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Why Pain?
By Mendel Jacobson

I WALK IN THE FOREST. I come upon a brook. The brook is so silent and still. I look into the brook. The brook looks into me – it is like a polished looking glass. As I stare into it, captivated by its simplicity, I begin drifting to a place I’ve only dreamt about before, a place that knows no evil and feels no pain…

The sun never sets. The sky never grays. The grass never yellows. The tree never dies. The leaf never crumbles. The flower never wilts.

The man does not hate. The woman does not cry. The child does not hurt. The family does not starve.
The mind does not forget. The heart does not deceive. The lip does not frown. The hand does not slap. The face does not cringe.

The canvas does not discolor. The music does not stop. The words do not fade. The poem does not end.
There is no war. There is no loss. There is no regret. There is no enemy. There is no divide. There is no failure. There is no pain.

But then, as I drift deeper and deeper, I begin to see more and more, and I begin to understand…

The sun never sets…because it has never risen. The sky never grays…because it has never been blue. The grass never yellows…because it has never been green. The tree never dies…because it has never lived. The flower never wilts…because it has never bloomed.

The man does not hate…but neither does he love. The woman does not cry…but neither does she laugh. The child does not hurt…but neither does he feel. The family does not starve…but neither does it eat.
The mind does not forget…but neither does it remember. The heart does not deceive…but neither is it faithful. The lip does not frown…but neither does it smile. The hand does not slap…but neither does it caress. The face does not cringe…but neither does it glow.

The canvas does not discolor…because it’s painted in black and white. The music does not stop…because the song has never been composed. The words do not fade…because the letters have never been written. The poem does not end…because the poet does not begin.

There is no war…but neither is there peace. There is no loss…but neither is there gain. There is no regret…but neither is there pride. There is no enemy… but neither is there a friend. There is no divide…but neither is there individuality. There is no failure…but neither is there hope. There is no pain…but neither is there pleasure.

Now, slowly, slowly I begin to float back to the surface. And, as I walk away from the brook, I no longer question the pain in life but am thankful for its pleasures.


(Mendel Jacobson is the grandson of veteran Yiddish journalist, Gershon Jacobson. Mendel is currently the associate editor of the Algemeiner Journal. He works and lives in Brooklyn, New York.)

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