Friday, October 10, 2008

Kvitlech: please a good note!

In these days of renewal, there is a move: we started the days of awe that reached their first climax on Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement. Then, six days after Yom HaKippurim\יום הכיפורים, we sit in our shelters covered with overshadowing branches. We meet with historical and spiritual guests - the ushpizin\אושפיזין as with friends or strangers, share about the Scripture, history, future, present, past and envision our own swinging-back to God. That’s quite something! Because on the 21st day, there is the Hoshana Rabba\הושענא רבה, the last praying act to be performed under the sukkah/booth and then the feast will soon be over with some divine judgment.

We are quick to be judgmental. A few seconds, minutes, chik-chak, period. We make up our minds very speedily about the others; we may be slower as regards ourselves. God waits... it takes Him so much time to write our names into the Book of the living. We are very good at rejecting promptly anybody. We usually don't know or try to understand anything. On the other hand, God is not only patient: He appraises the price of our nights and days. Say, God is wise… Thus, in the end, He has to give some signs.

The great blessing is to pour some rain. Wherever they reside, the Jews pray so that God pour His rain in Eretz Israel and not in any other place. This shows the long-term fidelity of the Jewish community with this Land. And from there, the blessings reach the ends of the world.

God seems very reluctant to curse. Of course, even the most pious believers should admit that he never got any written statement showing that he is blessed or cursed for the new year! The statement is included in the Scripture and the Talmud. The Hoshana Rabbah day is the 21st day of the new year and traces back to Abraham who got the blessings for all the generations. With regards to the tradition, Abraham belonged to the 21st generation after the shaping of Adam. Then, on this day, we got to the high spot to make up our minds: rejoice - go through the pangs of birth; convert and trust in God. God does trust in us and this is the unbelievable point. Just get to the news: killings, violence, fights in words, acts, rapes, lies, corruption. Some people would even suggest that we are allowed praying to cause the death of non-Jews or non-believers! We cannot accept that God's blessing upon Moshe Rabenu consisted in a special pardon: he was the humble servant, the most humble and true believer and obedient to God's "paroles and utterances". He is to die in the wilderness, facing HaAretz. He dies as accounted generation by generation, and also this Shabbat "Haazinu\האזינו". The parasha/reading portion is in Devarim-Deuteronomy 31:1-32: "Give ear!"

How can we today give ear? Moshe had killed an Egyptian for the sake of all believers and the redemption of the Hebrews. He is redeemed by the fact he became the humble leader of stubborn and stiff-necked slaves that got from serfdom to freedom. We use our ears for anything. Rebels and hooligans, sea men pierce their ear: it strengthen their brains and guts... they say! Ears are terribly sensitive and Chinese medecine would heal or curse any healthy person with some needles. "ozniyot\אוזניות = earflaps may harm our "audibility" but we feel so comfy... in particular with ourselves, in our world. These days of aw and brightness cause us to open up, God willing, humans consenting.

Still God confides in us. Oh! we would love to put God into a box, a sealed cupboard or ark.The great Scrolls of the Torah that are lodged in the “aron haqodesh\ארון הקודש / holy ark” serve to release us as each letter aims to make us free.

The 21st and last day under the sukkah is called “Hoshana Rabbah\|הושענא רבה” and is thus substantial and significant. It is also called in Yiddish “a git’n kvitl\א גוטן קוויטל - a good note” day. We are used to surf on the web. Jews write kvitlech or tzeltlech, “small posts/requests” to their rabbis. Long lists of “notes” daily arrive at the Western Wall either by fax, emails or now mobiles (there are delightful pictures of Jews putting their mobile to the stones of the Wall allowing somebody to speak out his soul from afar. In return, God sends back the “gite kvitlech”, the good judgment from heaven for a blessed year.

As they hold the “arbaa minim\ארבעה מינים - four species” the Jews will, on that special day, cry out: “Ana HaShem Hoshiya na\אנא ה" הושיע נא = o Lord, be merciful and save us” (Psalm 118:25).To begin with, it recalls the “hakafot\הקפות – circular movements” around the town of Jericho (Joshuah 6:14-15) as well as the sprinkling of the waters in the Temple (Talmud Yoma 59a). In the Mikdash/Temple willow branches that require a lot of water, were put at the four corners of the altar. A fter the destruction of the Temple, the seven circular goings around the altar are comparable to the movement around the “bema or almenor” (lectern). It is linked to the shaving of the head (harvest) as in Talmud Nazir 29a and specific payment of debts in Sabbatical year (Sanhedrin 68b). People cry, shout and this is a “joyous moaning” combining happiness and anxious expectation of a good note well-sealed and duly sent by God. This comes out of the entrails: ”Please, save right now!” Targum Onkelos suggests that “Hoshiya-na” means “save Yourself right now!”

This is an interesting matter. While they go around in circles, the Jews read a wonderful text for the Hoshana Rabbah and chant: “Ani VaHu Hoshiya-na\אני והוא הושיע נא - I and He save right now!” The jewish tradition considers that this links two verses of the TaNaKH, i.e. Ezekiel 1:1 “Ani (I) betoch hagolah\אני בתוך הגולה - I was amongst the exiled’ and Jeremiah 40:1: “VeHu\והוא (And He) was found in chains with all the other captives from Jerusalem and Judah who were being deported to Babylon”.

In both verses the text refers to God, as first and third Person showing the deep connection in times of dispair as in times of hope. We may not be aware that this leads to a victory that saves God’s reign and His human creatures. As a result,we may grow: “He is my father’s God and I shall extol Him” (in Hebrew: “Anvechu\אנוחו”; Exodus/Shmot 15:2).

All through our existences, we are called to make savings. This banking word does not imply that we would be God’s odd soul savings or properties under strict and limited control. In our cultures, savings mean that we would not spend or make money, profits. But when God saves us with a good one-year ticket, it is our task to increase the fruit He shares with us. I have been visiting the sick for now more than 30 years. It is very strange how baby children saved from death are “deathproof”, unassailable. Financial crashes reminds us that God delivers, enhances and makes miracles.

This is also our own historic experience.We are good at savings, it is far more difficult to agree that we are saved. In the Gospel it is accounted: “Aha , you (Jesus), save yourself and us as well” (Luke 23:39). In his “priestly prayer”, Jesus also says to God: “All I have is Yours and Yours is mine... May they all be one, just as, Father, You are in me and I am in You” (John 17:21).

We entered a period - tekufah\תקופה of increasing hardships. After the perestroika, a lot of people turned to be new rich, new believers, new "just married in accordance with clean and pure Tradition". We see and we are involved in the slidingdown and collapse of a system. As believers, we are also a part of it. We are not "taken from the world, but that God should keep humans from evil" (John 17:15).

av Aleksandr [Winogradsky Frenkel]
October 11, 2008 - – 11 deTishrei 5769 - י"א דתשרי תשס"ט

Who knows (understands) the thoughts of humans?\מי יודע מחשבות אדם כי הבל הם:
The fisherman - Icelandic stone sculpture.\הדיג - אומנות באיסלנד

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