Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Talmud Berachot 55a states: "Three things should be prayed for: a good king, a good year and a good dream". The king is God Who "renews the initial things (mechadesh ma'asey vereshit\מחדש מעשי בראשית); "year" is the "shanah\שנה" that starts in Fall (second time after Spring/Pessah-פסח) and good dreams.... Indeed we areprofessional dreamers with unbelievable desires and expectations that do come true! Just click, even nowhere, God's miracles for Jewishness make food out of tamarisk tree leaves, bring pogrom survivors from Hamburg to New York with bread, onions and minced meat that turn to be worldwide "hamburgers". Le Most High feeds the rich and the poor. We were about to conquer Uganda, and realized all of a sudden that we had been away from home for 2000 years = twice one day = yesterday (Psalm 90:4) and that, again, "dreams come true" in Eretz Israel.
Jews often experienced how long periods of time, years, hours, months require a lot of patience - not necessarily dedicated to "sufferings". There are "times and delays". In Israel, whatever turmoil and mishmash, seasons can slow-slow be greeted with joy. And we love feasts! We love new events, chances.
Rosh Hashanah is a time of happiness, sweetness. With much family and community encounters, sharing fruit, honey, apples, figs, pomegranates. Dipping fresh apples into delicious honey and wishing "shanah tovah\שנה טובה, chasime toyve\חתימה טובה = a nice sealing of your names in heaven". Laughing and hugging is good, "shanah and chatimah\שנה וחתימה" is more: to seize the right time for a right life in the right place. "shanah\שנה" comes from "Ya-SHaN-ישן = ancient to be bright"; it is related to "shanah\שנה" : a) to repeat, i.e. to learn again and again = things really go from old to new, not the contrary. b) to teach, study "he who studies reviews (renews him/herself) every day" (Nidda 73a) ; c) to vary, make a distinction; not exactly the same but parallel to Greek "panta rhei" (all things are in flux, cf. Sanskrit : “sam-sara” that sound a bit desperately fateful).
Pessah/Passover is indeed the first New Year time in Spring; Rosh HaShanah is rooted in the drama of divine judgement and final harvest at the end of time, as in Sumerian society. Our good old "mazal/maz'l-מזל" makes chances new and fortune obtainable. While dipping fruit into pure natural honey, we gamble our lives and days because the Blessed One "(she)qi'manu lez'man hazeh\שקימנו לזמן הזה" (maintained us alive until this period)... So why should He stop? True, there are the sick, the injured, broken destinies, severe diseases, wars and the "situation", the rise and the fall of the ever-New Shekel. Yes, there are all kinds of fears, uncertainty: how can we think of tomorrow if we hardly can cope with yesteryear's lucky or sad events? “Shanah” also means "to come a second time". Not "cursed times", but times that we can meet joyfully. Rosh HaShanah is Yom HaZikaron\יום הזיכרון, the “memorial anniversary day of the creation”, a brand new creative day. Oh, I love to wish at night a "shenah tovah\שנה טובה" (have a good sleep), because "shenah\שנה = sleep" is this daily refreshing time of trust that we shall awake and get honey-tasteful affairs.
"Shanah\שנה" implies changes, reversing situations, unexpected affairs and events, new portion of time: from old to new, to refreshing (like on the computer), to scroll up-down and across our path and reach our peak of accomplishment ("shen\שן" = "peak, stone, cf. tooth" and refers to Jacob's stone on which he slept and envisioned the ladder and Israel's destiny in Genesis 10:10-29).
The English word "year" comes from "ár/árið" in Old Icelandic (Germ. "Jahr", Lat. "hornus" (of this year) and corresponds to "Spring renewal" as in dialectal Russian/Ukrainian "zhara\жара" = "time when warmth appears"). Now, there is something special among the Gentiles: Greek: "hora/ορα" = "time and year = time of the day, of the year, right time". Russian "God/год" = "year" but Ukrainian "(g)Hodyna/година" = "hour". It shows how difficult it is to measure time as it seems unsteady, flexible, elastic from hours to ages.
The Rosh HaShanah point is a real "chidush\חידוש" = "unique new event". It implies getting aware of the priceless reward for our being kept living. This also obliges us to consider the point of a non-revenging way of living: the spirit of these days consists in proceeding real introspective reflection and actions . This is the "soul" of Rosh HaShanah. True, It is important to underscore that the Hebrew traditions perceive the Tana'ch and the Oral Law as overshadowing time, past, present and future. This is the principle of "There is no before and after in Scripture". Since the time of the Haskalah/Enlightenment, scientific studies compellingly scan the Scripture as compared to some linear historical line or development. It is important to understand the roots and logics of times and delays. Nonetheless, this cannot be the only way Jews AND Christians must consider time and years, days, minutes, seconds.
On the other hand, epochs, periods of time (tekufot\תקופוה) sweep back and forth, backwards to invisible past, fleeing present onwards to unsubstantiated future. This is why Abraham did respect the whole of the Mitzvot fiven in the Sinai and Jesus' Transfiguration waves up and down the ages from Moses to Elijah. This allows us to get to some kind of redemption, even in these very harsh financial days of money and stock exchange floating and slow drowning process.
The Romans had the same consumption patterns; daily distribution of money (aces, bread and tickets to get to the circus games). In the Antiquity as today, people could be stinking rich or get down the drain. This is an ongoing process that would not stop. Still, the real problem is how human communities can face such value ups and downs WITH FAITH, i.e. not being affected by any turmoil.
Judaism call "seres\סרס " the way that consists in interpretating God's Word "by [reversing, revolving] transposition", which means that God alone controls what the humans and even the faithful cannot understand in the Scriptiure. The King of the Universe, the Creator of the Worlds - as well as of times and delays - surpasses all the weird acts of craziness conveyed by human nature. The "song of the Red Sea" (Exodus 15) is imperfect = unachieved although the Hebrew did cross the Yam Sof-Red Sea. But the tense suggests that past will be present and mainly describes a future action.
We desperately try to fix our lives and take the lead in the process of time-control. This is not possible. Films, photographs, videos, audios, DVDs grow old and time continues. It makes life new. This is the unbelievable conviction and hope of the Jews that history is overshadowed by God. Events, the most horrible or wonderful events happen as elements that constantly make every soul, body, creature, new. This is why - with God's help - and without even being personally involved in the process, we are getting new and "clean". We had hurricanes, tycoons, tsunamis. We are in troubling financial boiling kettles. Cool, "don't be afraid"; the tempest will pass for the just and the unjust. It is somethimes terribly hard to accept such a challenge. Prayers are stronger than any bonds, also stock exchange bonds. Like debts, long or short-term debts, human souls are called to be redeemed (a financial word)!
At this point, the Breslover Rebbe has his grave in a land that needs a lot of pardon for all the irrational chaotic quakes of the Ukrainian history. It only mirror the destiny of human beings. R. Nachman declared that anyone who would come to his tomb with the intimate will to pronounce the tikkun haklali (the total remedy/repair prayer of the 10 Psalms), will be saved from the Gehenna/ Gey Hinnom\גיי הינום. Humans can be saved from damnation. Saint Silouan the Athonite stated that we ought to "keep our soul in hell and do not despair". The two spiritual moves are parallel; Gates will lift up and get opened. Just knock.
It should be noted that the autumnal Feasts that start with Rosh HaShanah and end on Sukkot (the Feast of the Booths) are parallel to the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Christian Feast of the "eschaton" (World-to-come – end of - time): The "Feast of the Cross" and the "Liturgical Church New Year" on September 14th (Julian calendar = 09/1st in the West). The Jews often focus on the fact that the Cross has widely been utilized as an instrument of torture against Jewishness (and other people by the way). We might not know that it symbolizes the TAV, the last letter of the Hebrew/Aramaic alphabets and has the shape of a cross, a plus. And the Christians do not only sanctify some instrument of torture. On the Feast of the Cross (09/ 27 = Oriental; 09/14 = Western Churches), in the bottom chapel of the Holy Sepulchre, the Eastern-Orthodox Jerusalem patriarch will bow down and rise up 40 times, chanting "Kyrie eleison" that does correspond to "rachem aleinu\רחם עלינו" (have mercy upon us) read during "Shacharit\שחרית" Morning prayer = God is "HaRishon veHaAcharon\הראשון והאחרון" (the First and the Last, the Alef\אלף and the Tav\תו. – “o-mega/ω-μεγα” is the last letter in Greek). The Christian believers should bear witness that God is alive, opens the gates of loving-kindness as in the Gan Eden with its tree of life.
One of the most beautiful Jewish prayers is said on Rosh-HaShanah: "Our God and God of our fathers, reign over the entire world in Your glory, be exalted over all the earth in Your splendor and reveal Yourself in the majesty of Your glorious might over all the inhabitants of Your terrestrial world. May everything that has been created understand that You have created it; and everyone who has a living breath in the nostrils declare: the Lord, God of Israel is King and His kingship reigns over all." (cf. John chapter 17, Jesus’ priestly prayer).
Av Aleksandr [Winogradsky Frenkel]
Photograph: a man or 20 New Shekels - what's the profit?
בן-אדם או 20 שקלים? מה היתרון?