We are in the midst of the seven weeks of the Omer, between Passover and Shavuot. Historically, this was a time between two harvests: the barley harvest and the wheat harvest. It was a time of waiting and counting, anxiety and hope – much like what we are experiencing today.

In this Daily Inspiration, Rabbi Lerner shares his reading and translation of an Italian poem which helps us reflect on the meaning of Shavuot, and this season as a whole.

Il Sasso di Angelo Orvieto

Domani, domani,
– se il ciel lo consenta –
con queste mie mani
il sasso porrò,
Il piccolo sasso
– o cuore rammenta –
che tacita e sola
la tomba sperò.
Non fiori disciolti,
non fiori in corona;
o Padre, il mio duolo
non fiori ti dona.
Il fiore tramonta,
il fior trascolora;
al duolo d’un’ora
s’addicono i fior.
Al duol che non passa,
che il tempo matura,
oh, meglio del fiore
la pietra che dura,
che immobile resta
da un’anno all’altr’anno,
sì come l’affanno
tenace del cuor.
Ch’io porti al sepolcro,
che attende là, solo,
la pietra di duolo,
la pietra d’amor.
Ch’io posi con mano
leggera, pian piano,
il simbolo arcano
del nostro dolor.

The Stone by Angelo Orvieto

(translated by Rabbi Leigh Lerner)

Tomorrow, tomorrow,
– if weather won’t postpone –
with these my own hands
I shall place the stone,
The little stone
– O heart recollect! —
that silently alone
the grave awaited.
Not flowers in a vase,
not flowers in a wreath,
O Father, my sorrow
no flower will bequeath.
The blossom fades,
pale grows the flower;
the flower befits
the sorrow of an hour.
For a sorrow never-ending,
that time matures,
oh, better than flowers
is the stone that endures,
That rests immobile
from year to year,
like a grief we bear
fore’er in the heart.
Let me bring to the sepulcher
that awaits lonely there,
sorrow’s stone of prayer,
the stone of love.
Let my hand lightly place it
ever so slowly,
a symbol deemed holy
of our heartfelt pain.