At 6pm. last Friday, we shall go down in procession to the Holy Sepulcher, with Patriarch Theophilos III and the members of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, to read for the last time during Great Lent the magnificent sequence of the "Theotokos - the Mother of God" as we did each Friday at the end of the day. We have seen that it could be possible to sketch out various possible connections between the Mother of Jesus Immanuel - i.e. "mother of God" - usually translated into Hebrew by "Yoledet El " although this expression sounds too much "foreign". The "Unespoused virgin" of the Theotokos hymnography rather corresponds in Semitic thought to the roots that derive from "almeyatho " as I tried to briefly explain in a previous note."Hebrew "Kallah - corresponds to the same notion of absolute purity, integrity at a physical as well as at a spiritual point of view.
The major question, with regards to these annual readings, is how avoiding being trapped by the rituals. On the contrary, it suggests how to envision and to understand the updates to which they relates beyond slight changes within societies of various moral and ethical tendencies. It is somehow useless to systematically contradict the "negation of virginity" as shown in present literature and thoughts coming mainly from the Anglo-Saxon world. Judaism - as Christianity - have experience too much "fear, fright, angst, attraction-repulsion toward sex" that led to a profound imprinting and misunderstanding of what sex means and purity proposes from God's Presence and Reign.
This task should be positively accomplished and it is quite a paradox in Judaism, e.g., that married rabbis and scholars could write down such stupid statements as those that are found in the description of the woman essential female and femnine menstrual cycle (Machzor, Tractate Niddah ). Let's say that there would be a sin - there is no original sin for the Jews as for the Eastern Orthodox Church - it is just clumsy and stubborn over generations to focus on the condemnation of half of humanity - i.e. women because of some apparently picturesque sharing of a wrong fruit, namely an "apple" which - according to the Torah is definitely not mentioned and in the Mishna is the "fig - tenah " that corresponds to the tree of teaching, as comparable with the "pip'l" in the Buddhist tradition.
Negative judgmental positions against women, their stand and role in the society although they can be venerated and almost falsely venerated as goodesses on the other hand shows a deep lack of spiritual comfort and ease everywhere. It is not only a matter of patraiach or matriarch tradition. It deals with the purity of life seed (zera'im ) as described in the first treatise of the the Mishnah. Chanting the Theotokos in the Eastern Orthodox Church corresponds in some way to the fulfillment of the Song of the Song: "do not wake dont awaken love till it finds its pleasure", which doe not relate to sole and exclusive sexual, sensual, physical but all-encompassing emotions that clutch God to mankind. Such binding is only possible through women. And of course without exclusion of any human gender.
At this point our society is profoundly sick, deeply insane. In our generation, and in the State of Israel - somehow also in Palestine and the neighboring countries, life standards are very high and people can grow very old. There is no special requirement for early sex or physical experience, except a tragic feeling of mechanical loneliness. People hardly can share on the long-term and physical emotions turn in showing a real "Angst vor Leben - life anxiety". Thus, it would be essential to show the backgrounds and roots of the Theotokos hymnography and the song that could explain with realism the way that can lead to authentic purity.
Mariam the Egyptian was born in Alexandria and lived in the 4-5th century. It is essnetial that the Eastern Orthodox tradition dedicates the last Sunday before Lazarus Sunday to such a saint. She was supposedly 12 years old when she started to live as a prostitute. The interesting point is that she explained to Saint Sozymas that she was so eagerly driven by her passion for lust that she did not even wanted to be paid by her clients and preferred to beg for her living. This aspect of a "teen age" woman (girl) can show at the present the same it did for her in the first Christian centuries. She was certainly more mature than usual girls of her age, though this does not mean a lot in our region where it is frequent to marry at 15 years old.
Lust should not only be understood as a devilish passion without control or that loses any control. Just as men should never been left alone and God had the wisdom to repair Adam's solitude, women need extreme respect and true "untouched" love because of the huge amount of possible emotions that they have in their insides, hearts and feelings, intuition and rational wisdom too.The miracle that happened to Mary of Egypt as she decided to enter the Holy Sepucher and could pass the gate by some invisible barrier, led her to the icon of the Virgin, where she prayed and then entered freely the sanctuary. Such accounts should be read with insights in order to understand God's salvific pedagogy. She fled to the desert near Jordan, the monastery of Saint Nicholas where she met with saint Zozimas who brought her each year the Eucharist - in fact he found her lying dead at the place where he had communicated her the first year. Her body was not corrupt.
Again, the same for the rabbis. Most Church Fathers wrote unbelievable accounts about female temptation capacities. Malehood has not more insights in spiritual life. I have always been "shocked" in a way by saint Augustine's attitude: he had a wife or say a women he lived with for the better part of his life and a son. He never really took care of her or of his son although, at that time, he could anyway have become the priest, bishop and spiritual leader. There is a sort of permanent disdain or mocking towards women liberation movements. This is definitely not interesting here. Mariam does not want to be a man. She was ready to seduce any man to get her drops of lust. And this is very dangerous in ethical life. Israeli society will come to Pesach 5768 within a few day in a year of remittance for the land and release of the debts (shmittah ). Instead, former president Katzav as other probable ministries and high ranking personalities show themselves a in sex-obsessed, raping society that is totally the opposite of why the Hebrew could leave Egypt and after a sin of idolatry enter le Land of Canaan.
When Zosimas found Mary in the wilderness to give her the Communion, she was lying dead and nude. She was also nude when she had met him and had asked for his cover. She was apparently nude: she had to the extreme gotten away from the world and brought, in her nakedness the newness of love. In terms of newness, it is definitely time for men to get more perceptive of the very human and achieving nature (physis = acting force) of womens redemption role. Judaism and Christianity have shown that at length and got stiff-headed responses from males. The distance that cannot be reduced from the women side to maleness causes a long, very long-term absence of balance, whereas God proposed unity and equity.
These are not simple feelings. They are difficult to explain and put into words that people can accept and make theirs, for their betterment, for being more gentle and capable to feel aat ease in their civilization.
Alexander Winogradsky Frenkel
April 14, 2008 - 9 de'Nissan 5768