Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Yom yom: Days are also feasts
So Yom Yerushalayim\יום ירושלים is getting away for this 41st Day. Tons of youths, holding flags, singing, dancing, came up to the City of David. T-shirts everywhere: green (very smiling and joyous, friendly), yellow and grey or blue (very sweet). Some other with very serious, penetrated faces looking toward the Migdal David up to the Har HaZetim and venerating the qevarim\קברים/tombs of the Prophets paving the way to Moshiach or the Messiah.
The problem that nobody really wants to understand, in our spiritual troubled situation, is that Judaism is real and not a fancy.
Well, 41 years ago, people of all origins were making their way to some sandy Western Wall/הכותל המערבי . They were waiting for hours to get to the stone that showed the sanctifying possibility to come again and freely to the place of the Presence. I knew a Polish priest - and a friend of the Arab Christians - who also sobbed at the Wall. He felt the sudden "weirdness making sense" that brought a tiny group of soldiers to take over the heart site of any Jewish soul, heart, memory; and most of all the core element of their future and spiritual insights for the coming centuries.
How strange that this year this Yom Yerushalayim fell on the Feast day of the "issapostoloi Konstantinos kai Helena - the saints Constantine and Helena, equal to the Apostles". In 325, Helena found the True Cross at the place of the Holy Sepulcher and decided to build the Church of the Anastasis there. Her son, Constantine, became, after political twisting power games the one emperor of the then united Roman Empire. As the "megas/great" Christian emperor, he canceled the edict that prohibited Christianity and allowed the Christians to practice freely. His attitude prepared the creation of the Roman Empire and the Germanic one for the early times of Christianity before Islam had appeared. Interestingly, as unerlined by Eusebios of Caesarea in the biography,the Christian emperor was baptized by an Aryanizing bishop (strong elements of negation of Jesus' divinity and an heresy condemned by the Churches). Still, he was and is really the model of the Christian ruler and man of the modern style of exerting power for his time.
Saint Helena, his mother, might have been a simple concubine. Christian life and destiny are baffling for our more than 1500 years of State Christianity with peculiar wedlock bonds. Constantinos was baptized some days before he passed away, which was usual for people who wanted to avoid any sin after having washed their soul and body in the Resurrected. Today, people confess before being baptized... and feel so but so and so pathetically sinful that they are at pains with their feeling released and delivered from evil by their baptism. Strange swirling of spiritual attitudes and uncertainty of some believers. Very Holy Land, by the way.
The whole of the Scriptures undercores how it is possible not to rule in a despotic way, but exert power with loyalty and morals. David, of Bethlehem, was the forgotten candidate to kingship (2 Samuel 7:5; 1 Chronicles 17:1). The young shepherd was out in the fields. Helena has surely to face humiliation as a woman and the mother of the Roman emperor.
Spiritually speaking there is a common struggle for true and pure faith in God with David and Constantine and Helena. The two ruler drifted aside tempted by sin and too much forces. With regards to Jerusalem King David was not allowed to build the Temple because of his transgressions. Helena, renowned for her humbleness, found the Cross and built the Holy Sepulcher. Constantine got baptized on his death bed in controversial conditions. But, the point is that the three persons are "kedoshim - holy, saints". And none of them, in the history of Israel and the Gentiles, then Christianity, could ever have ecompassed to the full the consequence of the power they exerted beyond total awareness.
A very special day for me: 41 years ago, we rushed here, convinced that the State of Israel was about to sink in the Great Sea. Sixty years ago, Ben Gurion's anxiety at the eve of the UN vote introduced a time of creation. I spent the day between Uri Lupoliansky, the mayor of Jerusalem and the Moskovitz prize for Zionism given to Moshe Moshkovitz, the founder of Ephrata - Gush Etzion, survivor from the first settlement there, born in Slovakia. It was at the Ir David\עיר דוד - the City of David. Hundreds of youths were present in the area close to the Western Wall. And there I was sitting next to "Moshko", a man of profound humbleness and dedicated faith. The work implemented by Gen. Peker and the R. Fendel of Sderot are definitely significant for the Israeli society, whether applauded or criticized.
Moshe Moshkovitz belongs to these "aney Israel - עניי ישראל - the poor of Israel", visionary, creative, never stepping down from a goal that leads us far beyond what we are, at this point, at this very day in the development of Israel. When he showed me all of Gush Etzion some time again, this was the same miracle that transcends politics, coherence, normality. From there Abraham and David rose to Jerusalem because of appointed times that even defy righteousness. The problems is that justice is at the heart of all events and that we dare not forget it or harm anybody.
Facing the Har HaZetim - הר הזיתים Mount of Olives - and the kevarim\קברים of the saints, the prayer was intense. As it is also intense in the Holy Sepulcher with the whole world and tons of Easterners coming daily. People crying to God, screaming at or ignoring each others. On the way back I met again the mayor walking around with his wife.
The whole thing had made my day, because my task is definitely not to add any division or contradiction, but to show a real ahavat hinam - אהבת חינם (free-gratis, priceless love) - in a context that is governed by this love, disguised and hidden by interest, power, age-long ignorance.