Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Chug: circle, feasts, balls...

I had a look at the first wonderful and amazing pictures showing the red landscapes on Mars, the red planet ("ma'dim", Numbers Rabba 4, Shabbat 156b); then I randomly surfed on the Jerusalem Post site online and found an interesting article about Israeli women getting more and more blond or dying their hair blond, a way to neutralize the inter-tribal modern Hebrew State differences. Indeed, hair often seems to turn to light blond, though it sometimes maybe a heavy darkening blond.

Still, it is baffling how many women from the Baltic area have natural red hair and light pale skin in these old Jewish communities with freckles and "admoni" - red - reddish" was the color of the hair of Saul and King David. Today, women would have long curly red hair or very short red hair cut. It is rather frequent and quite evident in a hot and colorful country. “Redness” is an ancient and meaningful symbol in Judaism as in most cultures of the world. We often don't know that Africans (we have the Ethiopians), Asians are born red haired, which is seemingly due to some features of chromosome 16. Blood-oath, what a crash-hot ridgy-didge that we are the colors of the world and bloody reddish complies with our carrot-like preferences!

There is a "little" wilderness town in South Australia, Oodnadatta, not that too much far from Alice Springs located in the North, well it depends on the speed of your truck. Fifty five years ago, it was still a sort of wild expedition, even if Aussies were already very forward, to travel in the area. Was it the end of the world? Or a more original point for a better understanding of whom humans are? Some World War II veterans and concentration camps survivors were propositioned to emigrate there and they could develop their enterprises abandoned in some European city, make money and get wealthy. True, they did not settle in Oodnadatta, but rather in Melbourne, Sidney and Canberra. Good on 'em!

This is why I could have spent my young days in Australia, but it could have been in British Columbia too which, at the present has a lot of Israeli inhabitants and tons of Ukrainian workers that arrived 160 years ago... and conquered the Western Canadian Provinces. How strange and intriguing that sixty years after the end of the war, the descents of the Russian, Jewish and various Soviet Union Displaced People that lived in Harbin (China) were allowed to move to Dairen/Port Arthur, then to Hong Kong and were dispatched to the United States, Canada, Argentina and Australia. Today they come back to Israel in Spanish, English and a touch of Yiddish with some Ladino... You bet! The world is so small and history such a mishmash... Or maybe there is more.

Now, before I brushed up my Greenlandic and Nunatsiavut Inuit (optional) writing consisting of syllable letters in the shape of bear foot marks in the snow, I discovered very early the richness of two Australian aboriginal tongues: Pitjantjatjara and Aranda spoken in the region north of Oodnadatta. This doesn’t look like the full quid in our Israeli context, Mars, red haired and Adam. Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek are indeed the language in which God delivered His Mitzvot to the Israelites. As stated in Sota 7,1, He does understand all the languages of the world. We must be careful with that. It does not mean that we understand anything, but God value any parlance because He better knows than we do what each of them represents for a perception of His Divine Presence. Yes, Inuits as Australian aborigines have been murdered or encouraged to die out through diseases, alcohol and despair.

Curiously, a lot of religions focus stubbornly on the primacy of their sacred tongues: Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin, Slavonic, Gheez (Ethiopian), Sanskrit, Tibetan and some many other languages. The point is that it is fascinating to understand how the Pitjantjatjara and Aranda speakers, for whom the hand (as our ”hamsa”) and wet imprint of the hands on hot stones could explain the Presence of God, the Only One that revealed His Paroles and Commandments in the Sinai. Apparently, they had no words to express that God shaped human beings in His image and likeness.

Still, by using animal descriptions and body imprints in the sand or on wet stones, they could get to this conviction that HaShem had created them and all beings. The problem was for the Christians (mainly the Anglican Church) to prove that “flesh and blood”(in Hebrew, “bassar vadam = mortal human) could resurrect. In their case as also among the Inuits or the Namibian Bushmen (Nama), the quest excludes any idea of “mental disability”. We are not the knowing ones facing a world of ignorance. On the contrary, at the present, Jewishness requires the development of huge projects in order to reinvigorate the Yiddishkayt traditions that drowned during the Shoah. We have lost the direct contact with the world of the wilderness and the instinctive intuition and feelings of what we cannot understand nor seize: the realm of the Mitzvot.

Within a few days, we shall enter new month Ellul that prepares for the time of Rosh HaShanah without any feast until New Year. It is a month of silent meditation. So the Jews can be red, blond, black and curly, this is a major concern with regard to the en vogue heads; anyway, but hair is always related to redemption: “My iniquities have overtaken me, until I cannot see; they are more than the hair of my head (mesa’arot rashi) and my heart fails me” (Tehillim 40:13; 69:5). The Gospel adds some Talmud-rooted sayings: “Do not swear by your head for you cannot make one hair white or black” (Matthew 5:36 – obviously some people today may think that hair dyeing is natural) or “And even the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid, you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:30).

Heads and hair are very spiritual elements of our bodies and it is absolutely appealing that parts of our being correspond to divine realities. Hebrew “silsel = to lift up, swing (cf. salal = battery power!). Tractate Rosh HaShanah 26b states: “A handmaid said to one (rabbi) twirling his hair “how long will you curl your hair”, which meant “(why do you) turn the Law into all directions”. We are very good, too good at “twirling” the Law. On the other hand, our desire to be trendy, a la mode, does not mean that we are aware that there is nothing new in fashion, haircuts or natural skin colors that spread widely and speedily throughout the planet. Israel is obviously “cosmic-fashion” at this point as its inhabitants came from all parts of the world, introducing the most faraway cultures. And now, we get to Mars the Red… Let’s say the universe expands like an ellipse as shown by J. Kepler. We are also expanding and growing, overcoming all the hindrances we tend to find out in order to restrict our apprehension and understanding of life.

On this Monday, August 6th 2007 is the 62nd anniversary of the first nuclear/atomic bombing over Hiroshima at 8.15 am., local time. A so-called gadget “Little Boy” was nuked up as “a song of death” (Baghavad Gita (11,32) read by J.R. Oppenheimer on July 16, 1945 citing his personal translation of the text: “I am Death, the destroyer of the worlds”. The exact version should have been: “I became Time and my task, at the present, is to destroy” in a place called “Trinity” where the scientists blew up the first nuclear bomb. The Nazis collected the hair of exterminated victims murdered by Zyklon B gas in order to make soap.

The cream of the crops of the modern scientists launched the process of some future possible Sodom without being gods. They were Jews and Christians and referred to some alien famous poetry fascinated by a hopeless spirit of destruction. How strange and even bizarre that these scientists chose August 6th, the day on which the Western Churches celebrate the Transfiguration of Jesus: as he was speaking with Moses and Elijah, he appeared whiter and brighter for a short while of eternity, eternal life with God (Matthew 17:2). At the present, we are all nuking each other potentially, from Modern Persia that would displace the Israelis as refugees to the European Community in search of its Christian (and Jewish, if any…) background to some nuking software in Libya. The aliens are cooking the world in a sort of fragmenting micro waver, while we segment Eretz Israel into ethno-cultural self-searches. Still, “the Lord of Hosts established the world by His wisdom, and by His understanding stretched out the heavens… and He makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth” (Jeremiah 51:15-16).

“Chag” means “feast” as also “chagigah” which is very “festive”. We love feasts. Israeli society loves to joyously celebrate events with balloons and bubbles, cakes and simple gifts. We may not be very conscious that our feasts are like elliptic dances stretching out to more and more wisdom. Thus, they participate in the expansion of space inside of creation, intruding like whirling circles. “Chagog = to dance, whirl, go circling, wheel”. The TaNaKh says: “I was there when He drew a circle on the face of the (void) deep / Ani bechuko chug al pney tehum” (Proverb 8:27). Thus, God “sits above the circle of the earth / chug haaretz and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers”. Many things draw back to “circle” without framing in Hebrew: “Kadur = circle, round, ball, pill” as in “kadur haaretz = earth, globe” or “kadur regel = football” that may often be used to say that there is a messy situation or conflicts.

“Kadar = to be arched, rounded” as in: “The sign of eggs of clean birds (sign of life) arched on the top and rounded, i.e. rolling” (Hullin 64a). The Gospel, in particular the Book of Apocalypse / Revelation, scrolls up and down the same gyrating movement in the vision of the 24 elders sitting around the Throne of glory. They elliptically unfold the scroll of eternity that “love is strong and even stronger than death. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame” (Song 8:6).

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