In these days of joy and uncertainty following the release of Gilad Shalit, I am reminded of Naomi Shemer’s beautiful song Al Kol Eleh (“For all these things”) written after the Yom Kippur War.
“Every bee that brings the honey / Needs a sting to be complete / And we all must learn to taste the bitter with the sweet.
Keep, oh Lord, the fire burning / Through the night and through the day /
For the man who is returning / from so far away.
Don’t uproot what has been planted / So our bounty may increase / Let our dearest wish be granted: / Bring us peace, oh bring us peace.
For the sake of all these things, Lord, / Let your mercy be complete
Bless the sting and bless the honey / Bless the bitter and the sweet.
Save the houses that we live in / The small fences and the wall / From the sudden war-like thunder / May you save them all.
Guard what little I’ve been given / Guard the hill my child might climb / Let the fruit that’s yet to ripen / Not be plucked before its time.
As the wind makes rustling night sounds / And a star falls in its arc / All my dreams and my desires / Form crystal shapes out of the dark.
Guard for me, oh Lord, these treasures / All my friends keep safe and strong,
Guard the stillness, guard the weeping, / And above all, guard this song.”