I was until they told me I was blind.
I used to sit beside my father in
the synagogue, pressed close against his side,
his arm around my shoulder. Once he let
me touch the velvet-covered Torah as
it passed, guiding my hand in his.
I never made bar mitzvah — couldn’t read,
and didn’t have the heart to memorize.
Still, how I loved the synagogue, especially
the prophets’ words. A few years back I heard
a man read from Isaiah and — I swear —
I thought the words would come true then and there:
“sight to the blind,” he said. Well, one can hope.
When I grew up, I earned my bread by sit-
ting on the corner, holding out my hand.
They knew me in the neighborhood. It wasn’t
a bad living; once a rich young ruler
even put a gold coin in my hand —
a small one, but so heavy next to coppers.
From time to time discussions would take place
about my blindness and its possible cause.
All above my head — in every sense!
Then, of course, one day that man called Jesus
happened by. He said that he was light.
He put mud on my eyes and sent me to
the pool to wash it off. And then I saw.
What was it like to see at first? It looked
like trumpets sound on New Year’s Day, ram’s horn
and brass; it looked like gold feels in the hand —
I think I told you that I felt it once;
like smiles feel on my fingertips. It looked
like velvet felt that time my father, my
small hand in his, pressed it against the Torah,
and the jingling silver sounded round
my ears. A bit like that.
that when I got back to the street, though I
could see, the neighbors didn’t recognize me.
Scholars grilled me, called my parents, wouldn’t
take my word. And finally they kicked
Do I miss the synagogue?
I miss the New Year’s trumpets; miss the Torah
scroll, its velvet cover and the silver bells.
I miss the prophets’ words. I miss
But I do not miss the end-
less questions on my blindness; I
don’t miss the corner of the street or my
old “friends” and neighbors; I don’t miss the heat
and street-smells and the ache of outstretched arm
and empty hand.
Besides, I saw that man —
the one that said that he was light? He was,
you know. He was the one who gave me sight,
just like the prophet said. He is my Torah
now, my New Year’s Day, my gold, my light,
my father and my God.
Tobias Haller BSG
May 16, 2008