Wednesday, July 24, 2013

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Wag-'n-bietjiebos - The Buffalo-Thorn Tree = Ziziphus Mucronata

South Africa has very rare trees and cactuses, plants of all sorts, ancient, antique, remote and splendid, huge, immense, high, tremendously "pragtig, wonderful". Just as we have them in Israel, the ancient times that spread from the coast and reached the Middle-East. A kind of phlegmatic nonchalance that can listen to the noises of the earth, of the soil, as dust and sand of bushes and small woods are covered with much history that tracks back to the cradle of all civilization. When humans somewhere mutated from fish to apes, apies, then turned to some inmates with social life and brains, souls and language.



There are a lot of trees in South Africa and they developed in small bushes and woods or forests. We have no forests in Israel. We were used as members of the Yiddishkayt/Jewishness of the East to cross and even dwell in immense forests in Russia! I remember that when I crossed Ukraine and Belarus from Kiev to Chernobyl and then to Minsk, whitened trees over miles of damaged areas, kale bome, trees that got white and "lanky". As trees as like humans in the Biblical and Talmudic traditions, they looked "kaalkoppe, baldheaded"; right at the moment, they are threatened again with fires and nuclear attacks and blows. Psalm 1 underscores the role of trees as the image of the fruitful body and the soul of a human being and a Jew, a beleiver who trusts in God and in whom God can trust and entrust the beauty of creation. "The man who scans, meditates and studies" the Law of the Lord, i.e. the man who is like a cow that ruminates God's Word and think of It, refle'cts on It, dink oor "yehgeh" It day and night (Hebrew order...!). It sounds so sweet in Afrikaans: "soos 'n koei wat herkou..., (zoals een koe, die herkauwt (Dutch))", which just corresponds to our love for chewing.



But most of the trees and plants have thorns down there! Just as we have so many in the Holy Land. In English and Afrikaans, the word for "tree" can be either "bos" or "boom (Germ. Baum)" which is comparable to "bush" and "tree" in the local description of the landscape and the nature. One tree is definitely striking!It is called in English "Buffalo Thorn Tree" and traces back to Latin "Ziziphus mucronata" that came from Greek "Ziziphos". The word is not Indo-European at all, it is rooted in the Semitic languages that haunted from old the coasts of the Mediterrean and down through Zanzibar to the South and the Arabs. "Zizûf" exists in Arabic and constitutes the radical of a name that primarily might be misunderstood for some Westerners.



Afrikaans has a very special name for the tree: "Wag 'nbietjiebos - Wag 'nbietjieboom". It is very clear and quite amazing. It means: "Wait A Little Bit Tree". It is full of thorns everywhere; very green with some fruit, and it definitely looks mice and appealing, charming, but it is full of thorns. The word "Zizuf" does not exist in Aramaic or in Hebrew and is not mentioned in the Talmud. On the other hand, the tree is cell-known in the Middle-East and in particular in the Holy Land and Eretz Israel: we have such a tree with thorn, not exactly the same. But, according to the Christian tradition, the Thorns that were put as a crown on Jesus' head came from the same "Ziziphus micronata, Buffalo-Thorn Tree" and thus from a "Wag 'nbiejtiebos". It is evident that the local thorns and those of the Southern african bush tree have been compared and somhow identified as being of very close species.



It is amazing in our context. In 1938, Albert Einstein, questioned on the possibility of a Jewish State, was a bit suspicious and prevented that the Jews should carefully handle such a project in order to work together. They are used to worked in other countries and various cultures, but not to build up their own "self-identity country". He then added that, if God willing there would be a very special and unexpected reason for the creation of a Jewish State, i.e. in order to shelter and harbor the Jews, yeas, it would make sense and the dream may come to be true. He said: "Tolerance (patience) and wisdom" which in his mother-tongue was "Geduld und Weisheit".



The words are everywhere in Israel. "Todah al hasavlanut: thanks for being patient", "savlanut = patience" are blah-blahed night and day and at every minute in the country and the area, both by the Hebrew-speakers and the Arabs or any other ethnicity. It is our national "must, duty, plight, obedience, awareness". I would consider that the same is real for South Africa on this 100 year anniversary of the Union (1910-2010). But the amuzing part is that there is a tree, a bush-tree, full of thorns that, in the Christian faith, reminds that we need to wait with much patience and deceny for the Second Coming of Jesus, in glory, just as the Jews expect with much patience the adventus, the coming of the Messiah Ben David, christ son of David as stated in Talmud Sukka 52b.



Patience: the word is always connected to "suffering, "pathos"" in the Western cultures as it is also in "sevel", in Hebrew. But the thorns, as our trees or cactuses have more: they protect against violence and abuse. Once the thorns are removed, the bush-trees are soft and mild, tender, just as the famous "sabra, local desert cactus, also the name for the Israeli youths".



Some youths these days are maybe lost or confused, as teens or just-after-teens and post-adolescents can be when they only met with thorns or fences. Patiences becomes then a tremendous fight against framing ourselves; the others that did not share such an experience and cannot be patient because as we say in English "I can't wait" that curiously also can be Afrikaans "ek kan nie wag!". We do not live in cultures that are fed with history. Short-sighted about our past, even 65 years ago from Auschwitz to Hiroshima. "There are times and delays, yesh item uzmanim" as stated in Kohelet/the Book of Proverbs. This bows us not to act like lazy carpets, but to kneel down and be patient with a patience that drives us to something merely divine and not generated by our own desires.



In South Africa, the model is also striking for another reason. There is a pop group of singers that is called "Wag 'nbietjie, wait a little bit", like the tree and the fact that when people are planted in such a soil, they must identify with the nature and surely with the care of waiting some time, a little bit.



"When you have suffered just a little bit, I shall reinstall you..." is a key word in the Gospel that complies with the Talmud thought and makes sense in Jerusalem and the Land. There is a tree, and if the psalmist says we are like trees, we may have to behave like the Ziziphus i.e. like the Wag 'nbiejtiebos.



av aleksandr (in my South African blog "Cradle of the World/Wieg van die Wêreld)





August 20/8, 2010 - 10 Ellul 5770 - 10 RamaDHaan 1431

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hebrew in the Church: celebration in Jerusalem

It is evident that, in Israel, we live in a country, also in Jerusalem, where "dreams come true" and have to come true, in ways that are often unforeseeable. These are the famous words of Theodor Benyamin Ze'ev Herzl whose 150th anniversary of the birth is commemorated in the country. as readily mentioned on several occasions, some time ago we could celebrate the 153 anniversary of the birth of Eliezer Ben Yehudah in the Empire of Russia, in Belorussia and Lithuania, the reviver of the Modern Hebrew language. And this year we als could mention Schalom Aleichem, the famous Yiddish writer and Scholem Asch, whom I had met in the 80ies, one of the best Yiddish writers and special character inside of Judaism, on the verge of some Jewish understanding of Oriental Christianity as it was also the case for Marc Chagall.

"Ich habe einen Traum = I have a dream" does not exactly sound as it echoes in the Talmud Berachot 55b "chalom chalamti = חלום חלמתי ": I dreamt a dream and then the dream,( by a specific encounter between East European and Slavic and Jewish Talmudic spirits) allows to jump into impossible challenges because miracles are natural". Especially if they proceed of a call to implement and carry out actions that are "free", do not try to show off, certainly not our pride or arrogance. The revival of a language has a tremendous significance for all of human intellectual and human, psychological, religious, comportemental, selective choices and meaning of what we are intended to do.

As a young Jewish child, I have frequented Herzl, Eliezer Ben Yehudah (along with Joseph Trumpeldor and the Rav Kook, with whom it is supposed we had a connection via Rav Frenkel) since my early age. I met with Marc Chagall as a child for family connections and much later as a lecturer in Yiddish, just as it also happened with Scholem Asch who died at the outskirts of Judaism because of his tendencies to describe, from inside, a special Christian life in full parallel with the tradition Judaism he had known and depicted.

When I entered the Church, the first thing I did was to translate the Holy Prayers into Yiddish. There may be several reasons for this. The purpose was definitely not connected, as regards my position to any sort of proselytism among the Jews at whatever level or age; my inner experience of a profound and extant Judaism would never have accepted things like that. Christianity for the Jews must certainly not become or be proposed as a "Zulu Bushmen creed, faith or way to salvation and redemption". Similarly, it is somehow a bit ridiculous to prented, thos it is historically totally correct and extact, that the Jews are the "natives" of the Church. Indeed, the first disciples were Jewish; maybe things were a bit more somphisticated with regards to the faithful. But this "Zulu and Bushmen" compararison had been given to me by my colleague and senior professor of Yiddsh, a trained linguist, who as many Jews in the Universties, never would accept to convert to Christianity but had a sort of intense and interior understanding of the Gospel and Christendom. Hearing I got converted, he slapped me, which I considered as a norma lact. He then told me I should immediately join the "Judaism's regular "Salvation Army" and wear a hat. I got the Dollar many years afterwards.

He read the translations and found it was nice and rooted in Judaism. I mean that when we speak Yiddish, we do not speak any Indo-European dialect or language. The "Mume-laush'n" includes about 22 languages and dialects from Western and Eastern Europe, from Bavarian, Niederdeutsch, Slavic, Romanian, Turkish, Greek, French and even Breton, and so much more via Aramaic and Hebrew and the Semitic languages as a whole. But these are for sounds and lights, or appearance, let's say often true and false friends in terms of etymology and meanings. "Heint/היינט " apparently means "today" and indeed comes from German "Heute", but it basically refers to "today as eve of tomorrow", which has a liturgical "evening-morning" significance and roots and drives the day in other Weltanschauung than found or understood in the European cultural area... through not foreign at all.

The real reason why I translated the texts into Yiddish was firstly I made a sort of Memorail, though the Divine Liturgy and the Service always intend to be "memorials" in the Jewish and Christian traditions, which creates an immense spiritual connection between them that cannot weighed by some odd comparison system.

Yiddish had dropped into the terrible bloodsheds of War War II. We were many to think that it would survive due to its huge importance in the spiritual scope of Jewish world conception and analyzing the Talmud and the whole of the Oral and Written Traditions. But it was not that evident some 35 years ago. Today, things are clearer and Yiddish will survive and may even develop, indeed it might be difficult to continue on the tradition Kanaan (Poland and Eastern Europe) basis.

Secondly, I may have translated the texts of the Prayers because it was a way to understand their spiritual meaning in depths. I often quote this example of a young catechumen confided to my wife to be baptized. She was of a very well educated Afghan family and her sister, who did not convert but accept to be present to her baptism, used to talk with my wife. One thing, she would scarsely accept as a catechumen - though definitely a full "Christian believer" - was that God can pardon sins. The ingraved sense of Islam showed up at once. I asked a famous Orientalist to get a Persian version of the Gospel and I guess we even got a Pashto short version. She read it thoroughly and started to ask questions to my wife and very quickly got to the meaning of sin and forgiveness of sins in the Gospel and the Words of Jesus. There are things that need to be clarified in your own cultural mother tongue, other wise ideas can continue to hip hop the wrong way. This happens quite often with a lot of converts and should be carefully taken into consideration before approaching any Jewish soul.

I dedicate my life to Hebrew in the Church. This includes the language and the Jewish languages, but mainly the cultural approach, tradition, way of thinking, analyzing, considering the world and the environment, our contexts - even the Christian reality - as a consequence of the specific Jewish ever-extant and significant, pertinent, meaningful envisionings of faith and Divine realities. We have formed chains of generations of different clergy and teachers, professors who decided to get into such a "border line" position. This is why I had the great chance to be with Fr. Kurt Hruby and Mgr Georgyi Rochcau. Both introduced me to the realm of a limit situation and how to face it with faith, courage and confidence and some realism. But again, I could do that because they were the "historical" links of the chain that tracks back to the first centuries and wil anywayl be carried over in the future.

I have always believed in "Hebrew in the Church" and have composed at the demand of late Cardinal J.M. Lustiger a specific Oriental Euchology book ("The Sacrifice of Thanks giving") rooted in the Oriental Traditions and published for the use of special Judaeo-Christian groups in the Church (1989). I had the promise to come to Israel that I alwayas have considered as my only home country and serve here. It took some more time. But the direciton has always been trustful to the line governing unity through the In gathering of the Exiled in Eretz Israel, firstly, then by the in gathering of some intermingled gorups of various Western and Eastern rite tradition of the Church that, in Jerusalem only can be "Catholic and Orthodox = open to the plenitude/fulfillment-plerome" giving the sens of the "true faith, the authentic faith".

I also focused on a possible meaning of the Church that is not that common for the moment but should be studied in the forthcoming decades and generations, in particular in Israel. That the Klal Israel/כלל ישראל or "Great Assembly of the Fulfillment of the Communities of Israel" is extending to the world Nations and is on the way to move forward and not backward, ahead of the fulfillment of the Divine Community of Israel that invisibly and without much awareness from both sides incude the Church and the Jewish People as a wholeness and ONE and Unique achievement.

Thus, language plays an immense role in such a development. Language is the medium human beings have at their disposal to scrutizine and scan, survey, study, examine, detect, get insights about the whole of mental and invisible scopes of various realities that should never be framed or sterilized in dogmas. This confers a huge important to the ancient religious speeches, parlances, words and tongues. This has definitely marked our "tekufah/תקופה - era and civilization" as being the time of Sumerian civilization with regards to "Oneness of God and Divine Revelation".

All through my life I have studied the different meanings that link traumas and psychological damages (nezikin/נזיקין ) and spiritual "survival". This is an important feature. We often -especially in Israel - consider history as a series of fragmented events that are linked in a row of historically traceable facts. We do not feel how much our brains "are surviving" various fractions, splits and we are not entitled to judge who is first or last or why this happens here and not there . This is the for the moment invisible part or portion of our human development.

This is why the manifold layers that constitute our history are often scattered much wider into other splits because we do not consider the factor of memory or we change "election" into a stiff background; it is merely an "element for the future or "forthground"!

Most "Holy, sacred, divinely inspired" languages have shown a rare tendency to "become like fossiles or rigid, stiff, normalized, standardized according to sophisticated patterns. Some languages have disappeared, other are maintained articifially or along to another more vivid form of dialects. It is supposed that, in the monotheist world, languages have died out. Usually this (partly wrongly) refers to Latin, Sasncrit, Coptic, Gheez, Church Armenian, Syriac/some forms of Aramaic and others languages. This does not apply to Arabic or to Slavonic. Of course, Latin has ceased to be a colloquial tongue, but, normally, in the Church and in different countries in according to oppcupations, it can be used for writing or even sharing ideas: priests, Russian doctors, I often met with German lawyers woh had "fluent possible Latin". It happens to speak Ltin in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The case of Greek is very interesting because it is supposedly and until now the real language of the Gospel since we know that the Gospels were written in Greek. We did not find any comparable Syriac version. On the other hand, Aramaic texts seem to show a real Aramaic substract to the Greek, even if the text were written down much later.

The Greek parlance of the Bible and the Gospel is due to Jews. This is clear for the Septuagint. In the case of the Gospel and the Epistles or the Acts of the Apostles, the Greek New testament language is full of Semitism and errors with regards to the classical Greek grammatical rules. We cannot speak of a Judeo-Gospel Greek as there was a Judeo-Greek dialect at Corfu, for instance. On the other hand, it is quite possible that a lot of mental parameters induced in the Semitic Hebrew and Jewish speech entered the Greek Gospel tongue, juste as the Greek language did enter the language of the Talmud significantly.

Interestingly, Slavonic was created by Cyrill and Methodios from a Bulgarian or "Ukrainian-like" then rather Central if not Dalmatian slavic dialect and developed over the centuries of inculturation and Christendom into a real tongue. The language continues to vivdly nurture the faithful. It has a mental and cultural impact that show the line of civilization split that is persistent between Western and Eastern Christianity, but also, curiously enough, inside of European Judaic ways of thinking.

The Slavonic liturgical texts are basically - though definitely not always - a word-to-word copy of the originally proposed Greek version. One of the major difficulties for the Slavic faithful of the Orthodox Church at the present, in the context of more freedom, is to switch with precision and adequacy from the Old united Slavonic speech to God to the local languages. The Russian Church has been very careful in this process. It has always had over the past century, different personalities and individuals who sketched out how to produce a correct and suitable translation.

Many translators are thus drifted toward the Latin and Roman Catholic Church. Interestingly, the Russian version of the Credo" for the Catholic Latin rite is a duplicate from the Polish version and words. Per se, the thing maybe understood. It could be possible to propose a common Catholic/Orthodox Russian version resolving the Filioque as it always had been in the Ukraine, for example. In reality, each version does not only refer to a specific Church as such, but to a specific "mentality". This makes a huge difference.

The language is a living sign of life and life-giving. Thsi is why the traditional Church languages aim to preserve keep and maintain the unity among the faithful. It is a sort of spiritual care, based on fixed and vivid word of God. Hebrew has the same as in Sota 1,7 that states that God understands all languages but would prefer to be addressed in Hebrew. Beyond the mental aspect, we have to take into account the "divine-inspired" prospect that is a major factor.

I was recently asked by a Greek priest to teach him some Talmud. His explanation is very much at the heart of the whole problem of free prayer and attitude to God and some stiff aspects due to "preferred election". He explained that he was willing to learn the Talmud in order to understand how the jews think and proceed to think the way they do!

This should be respected as an attitude because we all behave, to some point, in the same way. He speaks current Hebrew. There is no reason for him not to understand the Hebrew he hears within the Israeli society. Still, he feels there is something more. I asked him why he wanted to learn Talmud and Talmudic Hebrew. He then said that "he wants to understand the way the Jews think because it is incumbent upon the Greeks, as having received in Greek the message of Jesus Christ, to get into the special way of reasoning of the Jews. And having gotten to the core to be able to "translate and explain" to them the reality of Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Savior."

Such a discussion belongs to moments of grace: they allow to understand the profound estrangement procedure that does not only affect the Greeks. At least, it is honest and this attitude is more than current in the Slavic world today or the Orthodox way of trying to convert any soul. It has not disappeared at all from the Western and Roman Catholic Church and it cannot disappear because it is a tremendous mental and spiritual reflexive reaction. It put clear where the gaps are and remain "put".

In the case of Hebrew, the language we speak today in the State of Israel is of course a strongly Semitically grounded tongue or dialect. It is new. it has been chosen not to oblige to special directions. In the course of the decades, I could feel the important development of the speech and writing within the society. The case is considered as unique and is indeed because of the fact that it allows today to bridge together people of all possible backgrounds and personal biographies. This is definitely a special miracle with regards to Judaism as the Body of the Klal Israel. It suddenly woke up something that has always been kept alive (and this is the major point) and now germinates ahead of something that we hardly can anticipate. Both a theological an a colloquial language. When we participate to any public debate, it is interesting to note the strong connection between secular and spiritual speech, Old, Biblical, Talmudic Hebrew and the new "half-Slavic or East-European dialect of Hebrew origin" that is developing.

This is the second aspect of Hebrew today. Is it the Biblical tongue or something else? Prof. Wexley suggests that Hebrew has revived with strong Slavic and East-European and Yiddish influences. Eliezer Ben Yehudah as also those who decided to speak Hebrew came from the Yiddishland. There is no doubt that there is indeed an extraordinary interconnection that showed historically between this part of European multi-cultural and pluri-religious substracts. Indeed, Modern Hebrew sounds very often closer to some Yiddish-translated dialect with some spices of pan-Semitic inputs.

I have always been convinced of this very deep and meaningful connection that also could link Judaism and Christianity. Usually people can misunderstand. On the one hand, there are indeed, very important connections between Hesychasm and the Russian Byzantine Church. This is also to be felt in the Greek texts. But then we speak of a spiritual proximity between two different and separate religions. They are not only separated, they are estranged and they are framed by mutual ignorace and most often "long-distanced hatred systems".

But Yiddish is much more the possible linguistic link that could have allowed a sort of encounter between Judaism and Chrsitendom in these regions of the East. It failed. It remains that, even in its aversion toward Christianity, Yiddish has a lot of phrases, expressions, words, often also present in the Talmud or used to explain it, that are found in daily speech and normal linguistic use. Hebrew is too "hieratic" and "astray" from any appertaining. It is the language of the Jewish people and has always remained. Yiddish is the language the jews took among the Nations and combined with Talmud and their special spirit in order to include the world of Judaism in a reality that bridges the two people of the Jews and the Gentiles. This has a very powerful Church or spiritual and Israel Community aspect of plenitude.

It is not sure that the Churches are able to comprehend with such a dimension, and definitely not at the present in the State of Israel. On the other hand there is something more that may have a much deeper significance over the decades to come.

Towards the middle of the 19th century, most Churches have tried to convert all the "pagan" nations and the Jews. The Catholic Church got largely belated because of the importance of Latin that had erased local tongues and ecclesiastical rites. In 1841, the Russian Orthodox Synod of Moscow, i.e. previously to the reinstallation of the Patriarchate of Moscow by the time of the Bolshevik Revolution, accepted and blessed to celebrated the Divine Liturgy and the Service of the Russian Orthodox Church in both Hebrew and Russian. The text dated 1841, was due to Fr. D. Levinson who the nserved in Jerusalem. This is the text I have always used for the prayer for two major reasons.

To begin with, the text is and remains official and has been accepted by an official and large body of the Eastern Orthodox Church and seemingly also accepted by the Greek Patriarchate of Jerusalem at that time.

It makes more sense to use with slights updates an official text rather than darfting different translations. It is an act of faith in the Church "unity". Till new versions - maybe only one - could be accepted and blesssed by the official Church authorities.

There is more: 169 years ago, with a project of conversion of the Jews that is profoundly under question as such in the State of Israel for different reasons, Fr. Levinson could instinctively make use of the Talmudic and Rabbinical language to translate the liturgical texts of the Russian Orthodox Church. Bishop Salomon Alexander Pollack, the first Anglican bishop of Jerusalem in the same years (a former chasan, cantor), also used tradiitonal and Talmudic lexicon. It gives to their translation a sound an a spirit of authenticity and not of some odd "Zulu-like" pidgin essay of inculturation.

The other Western rite Churches are not in such a position. They mainly "refuse if not reject" the Oriental rites that were born from Jerusalem and the Middle-East. I have the text in Aramaic of the Liturgy of Mar Yaakov/Saint James in hebrew script that was used by the small first group of Roman Catholics around 1952. Mgr Eugène Tisserant had convinced Pope Pius X they should be allowed to pray in Hebrew. The Pope had then asked "if Hebrew is a liturgical language"? The cardinal had answered by a question: "Holy Father, in which language was it written on the Cross that Jesus is the king of the Jews?". The Pope admitted it was in Hebrew, Latin and Greek (John 19: 19) and subsequently decided to accept that the brothers could pray in teh Assyrian-Chaldean rite that is the closest to the Hebrew tradition. The community chose rather quickly to switch to the Western and Latin rite in common language.

Is Hebrew a liturgical language for Christianity? This is indeed a real question. It interrogates about how Christians can use Jewish terms to confess, explain, teach and discuss of the reality of the faith that has been condemned and rejected by the Jewish Community. This "excommunication" has not been cancelled or denied by the Jews and it is far too early to consider any possible and substantial change in this matter.

On the other hand, something special happens and continue to show in the new, recent and Modern State of Israel. The language, Hebrew, is riviving and getting reinvigorated. It tracks back to the most ancient times and makes it in a way that, evidently, questions the world. Which nation has ever pretended to be at home in a place their ancestors had left over two thousands years ago. Beyond any political views, this simply challenges our understanding of "belonging, being at home over time, inculturation, survival and development, apparent erasing and new sprouting".

But then, the Eastern Orthodox Church is placed in a special context as also the East-European societies. Hebrew has been used in the Orthodox Church before the birth of Eliezer Ben Yehudah and Theodore Herzl (who has not always been likely to support the use of Hebrew)!

When we served in Hebrew according to the blessed version at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Jerusalem on June 12th with the blessing of Patriarch Theophilos III and of the Russian ecclesiastical Moscow Patriarchate, it was the first time, at our common knowledge, that the text also "revived" with local Israeli choir members, in a living Hebrew spirit and bridging the Slavic cultures that are so intimately intertwined on this earth.

We have felt totally at home and not like guests. Fully welcome and more faithful had come, just because it was a Saturday and the opportunity to participate in the Divine Liturgy. There was a visible and very emotional feeling of doing something we could not even anticipate. We are not in a period of great theological or ecumenical dialogue. But here, this was not the point: everyone felt it was "normal", obvious".

It was normal to hear the main parts of the Liturgy in Hebrew and some slavonic litanies and prayers. It was norma lto read the Gospel in Hebrew and normal to hear some words of a sermon in Russia nand Hebrew. It was more a real moment of "One Church of Jerusalem". Just having a look at the faithful, it was obvious that they were intermingled, Jews, Hebrew Christians, Gentiles, former Soviets and others, certainly some people going to different places. But the place was simply there that morning.

What will be next? God gives in due time. But the point is that on that Saturday, the memory of the local Church of Jerusalem tracked back, beyond all acts of hatred, persecutions, pogroms, extermination, ignorance, slander, destruction, to the original text that preceeded the birth of Eliezer Ben Yehudah, the reviver of Modern Hebrew, himself being a man from this Slavic area.

It is important that memory could also be "revived" in a positive sense: we took from old and felt it is new.

Av Aleksandr (Winogradsky Frenkel)

17 - 4 of June 2010 - 5 deTamuz 5770 / ה' דתמוז תש''ע

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Qui a le mot de passe

(from abbaa blog in the daily LE MONDE)
A nouveau, il n’y a plus de saison en Terre de Canaan et d’Israël… Les températures varient en un printemps qui bourgeonne comme les amandiers tôt en fleurs près de l’hôpital de Hadassah, non loin de Eyn Karem. L’autobus serpente vers les nouveaux bâtiments de l’université-faculté de médecine. La route peut aussi descendre vers le monastère russe « Gorninskii » juché sur la paisible colline.

Hadassah-Eyn Karem est sans doute le signe le plus limpide de ce que l’Église pourrait être en tant qu’ « Ecclesia universa - Qahal rav = Convocation de tous les êtres et Grande Assemblée ». C’est une certitude qui s’est vite imposée depuis le temps que j’y conduis les malades aux urgences, visite les malades et surtout les enfants leucémiques. La plupart viennent de Biélorussie (Belarus), d’Ukraine ou de Grèce. Quelques enfants ou jeunes adultes passent parfois de nombreux mois dans ce havre de soins… Ils meurent trop rapidement.

Un peu tout le monde, toutes origines confondues, vient se détendre à la source où, selon le christianisme, Marie, mère de Jésus rencontra sa cousine Élisabeth qui était enceinte de six mois. Une rencontre pleine de promesses de vie pour deux femmes, l’une vierge, l’autre stérile. L’une était trop jeune, Élisabeth était âgée. Il y eut un sursaut du bébé Jean dans le ventre de sa mère à la rencontre avec la jeune cousine ; comme au temps où Rébecca sentit les jumeaux (Jacob et Esaü) bondirent dans le sein maternel à l’orée de Karem, dans ces lieux mêmes, lorsqu’ils perçurent le bruissement l’enseignement sur la Parole de Dieu… « ruminée » par anticipation de la révélation au Sinaï, pleine de vie fraîche comme les prés de Karem (les anciens vignobles alentour).

La Parole fait vivre ; des mots peuvent tuer. C’est banal, commun. La tradition juive insiste sur le fait que la langue est l’un des plus petits muscles. Mais son mouvement, combiné en une cavité appropriée et singulière, articule des sons d’une façon inexplicable. Ces sons lient consonnes et voyelles en des mélodies prétendument harmonieuses, des tonalités qui s’accouplent en de riches tessitures. Le langage bruite pour bénir. Il peut maudire. Il peut tuer. Vocables et lexiques sont souvent riches, opulents. Ils peuvent être concis et s’affirmer avec profondeur. La concision peut électriser des significations claires, précises ou, au contraire, exprimer, comme dans les tchats virtuels, un code simplifié à l’extrême.

Ernest Renan soulignait avec justesse que l’hébreu est « une langue à lettres comptées, mais ce sont des lettres de feu » (Histoire des Langues Sémitiques). L’hébreu — comme toutes les langues sémitiques — apprécie la brièveté, comme beaucoup de langues acérées au sacré comme des flèches directes. En hébreu, les sons restent succincts. Curieusement, les jeunes blogueurs venus d’ex-Union Soviétique préfèrent la richesse de phonèmes tendres et contrastés du slave dont la grammaire et le lexique leur paraissent bien plus étendus, nuancés sinon enracinés dans des terres immenses comme le mystère de l’âme.

Le rabbin Shneur Zalman de Lyadi, initateur du mouvement Lubavitch ou CHaBaD (Sagesse, intelligence distinctive, conscience/connaissance/foi) a ainsi décrit, dans son livre-clé « Tanya » (« Enseignement » en araméen) un exploit du Créateur.

Ce miracle inexplicable unit la cavité buccale à la langue, la luette, le pharynx et les cordes vocales et résonne par des sonorités intelligibles, voire cohérentes, parfois maitrisées, souvent insaisissables. Et tout cela est émis par notre genre humain sous forme de langues qui se font écho les unes aux autres comme la musique d’âmes dont on ne distinguerait pas le chef d’orchestre.

Pendant la liturgie byzantine orientale, le célébrant s’apprête à chanter le Trisagion/Sanctus ou la Triple Sainteté de Dieu. Il prononce ces mots: « chantant (comme les oiseaux), criant (animaux), s’exclamant/rugissant (fauves) et disant (la parole humaine ayant sens)» ces paroles « Saint, Saint, Saint, le Seigneur Dieu de l’univers » (Isaïe 6,3). La source hébraïque met l’accent sur les anges (invisibles) qui s’interpellent dans le monde visible. Il s’agit bien d’une évolution qui affirme un « chant sonore et progressivement cohérent ». Il part du cri animal et culmine dans la parole chargée de sens. Il y a aussi les intonations : le miaulement d’un chat semble dialoguer avec d’autres félidés ou des humains. En yiddish, il y a 19 manières de prononcer l’interjection « Nou! », ce qui peut conduire à une véritable conversation animée sur syllabe pour tons et contre-tons.

Il reste que la faculté d’émettre des sons et de leur donner sens est un don unique dont l’être humain use et abuse sans vergogne. « Toute parole dite est mensonge » affirme un poète russe. En Israël, sans doute pour des raisons socioculturelles, le dialogue s’établit par le regard et reste vague dans des conversations qui semblent ne rien dire d’intime ou de profond.

La tonalité humaine exprime et maille l’oral et l’écrit, le dire et la pensée « par parole, action, volonté, conscience ou inconscience, sentiments ou passions » (sources de la tradition juive aux mots des traditions chrétiennes). Et le Tanya rendait implicite ce que l’analyse continue de scruter : sons et mots peuvent être inversés, rouler sur eux-mêmes, cacher des intentions. Ils conduisent souvent à se méprendre entre l’audio, le vidéo, le sonore et le muet, le silence.

Pendant les semaines de Carême ou Grand Jeûne, les Églises byzantines orientales (orthodoxes et catholiques) introduisent une belle prière attribuée à Saint Éphrem le Juste d’Edesse dont on connaît le texte en grec et en slavon sans original syriaque. Le texte est magnifique de perspicacité humaine et de recherche de divines :

« Seigneur et Maître de ma vie, ne me donne pas un esprit de paresse, de curiosité (indiscrétion), d’ambition (vain désir de pouvoir) et de (vaines) paroles (bavardage). /

Veuille accorder à ton serviteur un esprit de sagesse (sophrosune = non “chasteté”, mais “pleine conscience”), d’humilité, de patience et d’amour (charité). /

Oui, Seigneur mon Roi, donne-moi de voir mes (propres) fautes et de ne pas juger mon frère. Car Tu es béni pour les siècles des siècles. Amen. »

On notera le caractère sémitique du texte qui pourrait être prononcé par tout croyant monothéiste, comme le « Notre-Père ». Il va d’emblée à l’essentiel de ce qui constitue l’universel et s’adresse au tréfonds de l’être.

Différentes versions ont été utilisées dans les traditions slaves, soulignant « l’appétit des richesses ». On a souvent mis l’accent sur la paresse, la déliquescence de la volonté, des sens faits de perceptions ou de capacités psychologiques. De même, la chasteté ne peut se réduire à une dimension sexuelle ou physique.

Prenons le cas de cette marée pédophile « cléricale » qui sort des mémoires dans le monde anglo-saxon, scandinave, germanique, néerlandais, autrichien. On oublie soudain les terribles bourrasques causées par des pervers mariés ou en couples de Belgique et de France. Là, les sociétés néerlando-alémaniques ont été profondément frappées par « l’ouverture à la sexualité ». Il suffit de vivre un peu dans ces pays pour sentir à quel point le rapport à la chair est perçu différemment de ce qui est une réalité universelle. Les cultures « latines » vivent autrement l’émergence du sexe comme s’imposant par imprégnations massives dans la société. La société israélienne affronte ces mêmes démons qui se nichent encore dans les cavernes les plus archaïques.

Il faudrait mettre alors en parallèle les profondes crises économiques, les banqueroutes financières. Il va de chaos moraux ; alors que des milliards sont injectés pour sauver l’édifice international, l’Islande, l’Irlande sont pratiquement en faillite — tout comme, à d’autres niveaux les États-Unis et en ce moment la Grèce. On colmate les brèches sans résoudre les situations.

La spiritualité invite alors à regarder ce que cela peut bien signifier que d’être sage, sans désir de puissance et parler de manière positive, constructive. Le professionnalisme des religieux est tel qu’il peut s’abîmer dans des flots de bonnes paroles. La Parole bâtit, les bonnes paroles peuvent stériliser, tuer ou blesser. L’âme est tellement fragile, ténue et assoiffée ! La « coachisation » sous forme de perroquetage, de reprints, de cooptation, voire de « formatisation » conduit à des périls redoutables. L’être humain languit jusqu’au fantasme après la liberté. Il est bien plus lourd de trouver son équilibre. Il est quasi héroïque de ne juger personne.

Si le célibat des prêtres et des évêques relevait uniquement de décisions humaines et historiques connus, il serait absurde, réduisant Dieu et les sociétés à des marionnettes. Lorsqu’Eve est menée à Adam, Dieu lui donne de parler enfin car il n’avait pas de « créature semblable ». L’image est puissante, car Adam trouve une interlocutrice.

Les juifs insistent sur la séparation de l’homme et de la femme mariée. Le discernement se porte sur le calendrier physiologique de la femme. Aux jours de « petits Kippourim » au début de chaque mois puis au Jour de Grand Pardon-Expiation, le jeûne et la cessation de relations sexuelles impriment une compréhension autre du temps.

Le prêtre marié orthodoxe ou catholique oriental — avec l’ensemble des fidèles (!) — sont invités à jeûner et suspendre les relations intimes avant d’aller célébrer l’Eucharistie, la Résurrection. Ils ne vont pas chanter avec art et/ou conviction ou tiédeur. Seule l’intime conviction de la foi peut conduire à une conduite pareille.

La chasteté ne s’oppose pas alors à la conscience droite et pure. Il n’est pas question de déviances ou de fantasmes. D’autres portes s’ouvrent à ceux qui ont le don de la parole.

Qui a le mot de passe ?

Av Aleksandr [Winogradsky Frenkel]

17/4 mars 2010 — 2 nisan 5770 — 1 Baby al-THaany 1431

Friday, March 5, 2010

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updated March5/February 19 2010 - אדר א' י''ט תש''ע

Friday, February 26, 2010

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