Saturday, October 25, 2008

Itim-Z'manim: time brings up every generation

In these days of harvesting, we would prefer to assemble and rejoice, feel together and forget for a short while that daily life and events show how split and distant. It depends on the place where we were brought up, educated, the places we live in right now and with whom we socialize at a certain time, period of our own individual and collective development. This obliges us to take times and delays into consideration.








There is an interesting root in Talmudic Hebrew: "Qat/QaTa\קט-קטא" that means "to pluck" and "be a fragment, chip". It is linked to "Qataf\קטף - to harvest". It is written: "If he plucks, thus gains anything, the plucks a piece of coal - if he loses, he loses a pearl" (Terumot 8, 45d). This saying means that a man risks his life for a trifle. A small chip that firstly appears as meaningless, senseless and vain. Let's put it in other words. In Pessikta Rabba deRabbi Kahana 21, it is said: "that student is a chip from the rock of Mount Sinai”. It means that he is "changed into a rare precious stone of knowledge spared from the rocky wilderness of the Sinai and the Giving of the Luchot\לוחות (Tablets) (cf. Sanhedrin 4, 22a “qetoa\קטוע”).

This is what is great in Jewishness and all the Jewish traditions: from gambling and trifling we are basically called to hear God’s voice Who assembles chips and cuts or diminish our pride or selfishness to shape things “fine” – “qatat\קטט” as stated: “the one who beats (“meqatqet\מקטקט – makes even by beating”) to make the web close or to make the woof even” (Shabbat 12, 13c). Curiously, John the Baptist said something rather similar: “The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase but I must decrease. The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all (John 3:29-31).

This echoes Shabbat Bereishit\בראשית with the account of the Creation in the Book of Genesis. We read and hear again the shaping, making of the worlds, with all the air, natural plants, small and bigger animals and human beings living on this earth. It makes sense that humans wrote and accounted the story for humans. From the very beginning, it shows that all creatures are profoundly of their "solitude" in the immensity of swirling galaxies - aratzot\ארצות . Let's imagine that HaAretz - the Earth has some brains... Skies, moon, sun and the stars do accompany our planet. Adam is the only "soul" to understand that he has no companion. God saved him by shaping Eve\Chavah, the mother of all the living (humans). Thus she also allowed humankind to be aware of time. She has the eternal positive task to give birth and get conscious that human beings and evolving over generations. This is why Hebrew uses "toledot\ = history, birthings".

In the course of the 20th century, women finally got to their natural right and ability to understand how they function. They reached tremendous and unprecedented scientific knowledge of who they are as females. Sadly enough, males continue to think they have a right to control or rule over women. The point is that beyond the terrible infringements that often affect them in most parts of the world (rapes, torture, sexual abuse, lack of basic rights), women are more and more active in politics, sciences, techniques, literature, army as we have in Israel. Judaism is based on women creativity. The existence of the State of Israel may obliges a society to update their social relationships. It will take generations. It is not problem of men getting a bit "feminized". There is a crisis of fatherhood.

For the first time since the days of creation, women can birth from 14 till 60 years. It is possible to clone human beings and to change their genetic data and development, even in the womb of the bearing women and/or before insemination and fertilization. This raises a wide range of true moral questions. The Jews have the answer in the Talmud that encompasses all that is extant. The problem is to act with wisdom and reach healthy flexible answers.

On the other hand, women and men alike often feel abandoned to loneliness. This constitutes a spiritual and humane nonsense with regards to the good deed realized by the Creator. God blessed lonely Adam with the fashioning of an insightful ezer kenegdo\עזר כנגדו = a companion, helper, "aide-de-camp". Israel has a long tradition of a need for caring moms: Golda Meir, Daliah Itzik today. Tsipi Livni and numerous women acting in various contexts challenge this situation of loneliness. The Most High showed compassion for the whole of humanity by shaping Eve to "accompany" Adam (anisa in Semitic languages; oriignal root for ishah\אשה = woman". He was no more left alone. There is an in-depth solitude of each individual. But each human being is allowed, has the right to find the right half body (companion; chetzi guf\חצי גוף ).

The Churches have always felt - whatever their internal ethics in force - that unity fundamentally depends on the way womanhood is appreciated. Mary, the Mother of Jesus Immanuel, is the "image of the Church" worn as a panagia, a small icon that is the sign of being a bishop, a Church overseer.

* * * * * * * *

The reader is called the “Chatan Bereishit\חתן בראשית – the bridegroom of Genesis”. He testifies that God shaped the world and not the humans; and humankind did not wake up by some sophisticated or unreasonable project. All beings come into the world in order to pass over - depart. The major effect is that we grow old from the very first day we come out of our mother’s womb but we cannot grow old. On the contrary, a believer, might progressively get to the point, eventually preceded by terrible pains and sufferings, that s/he quits timeless eternity to live through an age that terribly extended from the original big bang. Thus, we are young “chaps” as regards the bridegrooms who are cut in time to get creative as family, job and learning partners. This is a reversed envisioning of our life, our duration.

There is a problem of lack of confidence: we would like to build, but are quick to destroy. It is so strange to spend some time in a Danish city garden. The children can fight like anywhere else, but if they get the material, they will always start to build something and avoid any destroying. This might explain why the Danes created the “Lego” or construction games. It is amazing to look at these little boys and girls naturally playing peacefully with a spirit of building something.

As always in the Semitic realm, “QaTaTa\קטטא = quarrel, dispute, discord (music, sounds)” with a preference to one sole and unique example: “beyno l’veynah\בינו לבינה – relations between (man and woman, spouses). “Qatatah” is the exact opposite to “shalom\שלום – peace”.

“if husband and wife have a strong dispute before his death (of the husband), they are vain” (Yevamot 15, 1). The root developed into an engrossing word: “sheqet\שקט – silence”. Considering the Talmudic references mentioned above that enroot the basic meaning of the word, things are not so simple in the TaNaKh and the Oral Law. “Shaqat haolam\שקט העולם – the world remained undisturbed” (Avodah Zarah 3a, Yalkut Habakuk 563) reflects a statement found both in Genesis and the Book of Job: “VeHu yishqit be’olamo\והוא ישקיט בעולמו = He (the Lord) is and remains unconcerned about His world (Gen. Rabbah 36; cf. Job 36:29).

This suggests that God might be careless (“shalev\שלו”) or feel too much “at ease” with His creation. A Russian saying states: “Every uttered word is a lie and silence covers a lot of sins (Saint Seraphim of Sarov). The problem is that “the ease of the wicked / resha’im is bad for themselves as for the world” (Sanhedrin 8, 5).

* * * * * * *

It should be noted that true silence is positive in the Jewish tradition. Silence may resemble a destruction: for example, in Hebrew, the sheva consists in removing a vowel and change it into some sort of “silent” /e/ sound: “shalom > sh’lom ha’ish\שלום האיש – peace > the peace of the man”. Indeed, “sheva” corresponds to “shoah\שואה – destruction”. Nonetheless, “silence” shows “quietness, be even, balanced, at ease”. Silence may introduce some fear (death) or narcissistic self-mirroring that opens up the dreams of some suffering souls. “Shakut\שקוט = a forehead that recedes abruptly”, which can be good for donning the tefillin (Berachot 43b).

On the other hand, silence is a mere reality. Absolute dumbness, total absence of decibels is not possible. Even gesture and the language of the deaf and dumb include their uttering some moaning, groaning or raw sounds produced by the throat.

How shall we positively respond this year to God's call to decency? The Hoshanah Rabbah sequence “Mevasser mevasser veomer\מבשר מבשר ואומר – He comes to embody and announce the good news” is one of the most wonderful piyutim / chants that can give some hope to share. Job’s final exclamation: “I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6) echoes the original Abraham’s words to God for the sake of Sodom: “I am but dust and ashes” (Bereishit 18:27).

It is not a repeatedly nihilistic statement. The good tidings also propose to to foresee far beyond all the kinds of turbulence and nonsense that seemingly overcome us. "Chipped, split, broken souls" are constantly called to renewal and repair.

av Aleksandr [Winogradsky Frenkel]

October 24/11, 2008 - 21 deTishri 5769 - כ"א דתשרי תשס"ט
יצירת אשה - the fashioning of woman
תמונה רוסית - Russian picture
בתולת-ים שבקופנהגן
Little mermaid in Copenhagen [dk]
נשים כעוזרי [ות] נגד גברים
women regulate men

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mar Yaakov day on 10/23 - 11/05


James the Greater (died in 61) was the first bishop of Jerusalem, heading the Early Church. Yaakov\יעקב [Hebrew: "heel"]- Иаков - Iakobos adelphotheos - Ιακωβος ο αδελφοθεος (brother of G-d) was seemingly a high priest, highly respected by the Jews and he was going to the Temple everyday. He took the first synod decision at Jerusalem allowing the Gentile to be "adopted" without having to be circumcised, but having to respectfully fulfill the Noahide laws. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem [my home and Church where I serve] commemorates his day on November 4th/5th following the Julian old style calendar. In the West, it will be on Oct. 23rd, always starting with the evening prayers = on 10/22nd. He was indeed considered as a צדיק - Just (tsaddik), having an ascetic way of living. His decision is most important because it enabled the Gentiles/Nations to enter the Covenant to the full.

av aleksandr

Photograph:
מר יעקב א בהעיה"ק - Mar/Mor Yaakov - Bishop A of Jerusalem

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hakafot: Rejoicing in going around







"Shemini Atzeret/Simhat Torah - "שמיני עצרת\שמחת תורה" have started in Israel and consist of two feasts in one eve, one night and day, two days in the diasporas. The main wors are interesting with regards to two different festivals: Atzeret marks the end of Sukkot as a final touch to the Hoshanot/Prayers for pardon and salvation. At night, all the Sifrei Torah - ספרי תורה/Scrolls of the Torah are carried in joyous circles around the "bima-almenor - במה - אלמנור/pulpit" and recall the seven goings around Jericho, later around the Mount of Olives, then the Mikdash/Temple. These are "hakafot - הקפות", which has very special and intriguing meanings, some of them being much significant in our present swinging economic system. E.g.: root "naqaf / נקף = to surround" > "They surrounded the camp with utensils and saddles (Erubin I,8[15b]) and ropes for marking the Shabbat (Erubin 9b)" - "to surround a place" = <...gardens or orchards to make them inaccessible> (Erubin 53b). "To cause to go around: <"I shall make them go around 40 yers in the desert" (Mekhilta Beshalach 1)... until he (the Nazirite) has hair grown around his hair" (Sanhedrin 8,1)>; thus the same verbal root also refers to "cutting all round or the corners of the head as of the field (hair locks/pe'ot/peiyes-ותפא) (Nazir 57b).

Interestingly - at least for the present turbulence affecting the economic swinging system, "naqaf" also means "to sell on terms", i.e. for a special period of time, a cycle/tekufah- תקופה): "the shopkeeper allowed credit" in Avot 3:16 = . BECAUSE : "eyn nakkifin / אין נקיפין... > there is no loan allowed on time = compared with Mark 3:29: "insult against the Spirit will never be pardoned".

The initial root was "quf - קוף/ turn, make circle", which does not seem to be connected with "kof - קוף/ ape" often mentioned in the Mishnah. ON THE OTHER HAND, "hakafah / הקפה " firstly refers to holiness and the circles around the altar > "hakafot hamizbeach - הקפות המזבח/the going around the altar with the bouquet = Lulav\לולב" (the move may be compared with the going around with the incense-burner in most Oriental Churches, also the Roman Church at times). The word mainly means "a going around that lead to a new cycle of time". The seven goings around show that the year is over and reached its fulfillment.

This aspect is not very clear for the believers and need some clear call to meditation and cosideration of what happens during the several annual "circling cycles, periods, turns of the sun, solstices" > "tekufat - - - equinoxes/solstices < תקופת ניסן\תמוז\תשרי\טבת" (Rosh Hashanah 8a). The famous saying "time is money" suddenly makes sense these days. Well, it is an old reflection grounded on a meditation expressed with the root linked to the "hakafot". Indeed, "tekufah - תקופה" also refer to "debts for merchandise that ought to be paid at certain seasons (Sanhedrin 68b)/ "tekufat chanut - תקופת חנות" are the shop debts which are not submitted to the limitation provided during the Sabbatical year (She'ebiit 10,1). The Scrolls are thus a sign of time and sanctity for the Jews who are sealed for a new year. The Scrolls are "sacred things" and therefore, it is not possible to touch the text with the finger. Subsequently, dancing with the Scrolls allows to climaxing rejoicing. It should be respected by non-Jews, not to supersede this privilege also linked to the Birkat Kohanim = ברכת כהנים, the priestly blessing, the unique remaining act from the time when the Temple was extant. Holding the Scrolls in the arms could someway be compared to au "Eucharistic" enthusiastic gesture, a special participation in the Divine Presence. Indeed, it is the "service of Israel" to show such a Presence to the world and to gather in all the "mishpechot goyim - משפחות גוים" (Psalm 22:28) because of a special privilege that cannot be denied or taken over as stated by Paul of Tarsus: "... Children of Israel, to whom pertains... the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promise" (Romans 9:4). The Scrolls substantiate, embody the Presence of the Bore HaKol Yakhol - בורא הכל יכול, the Creation of All-things. The Feast of Simhat Torah appeared later. At the present there are seven "aliyot - אליות = ascents to the bema to do a reading". The year is closed with the portion "VeZot Haberachah\וזאת הברכה" in Devarim/Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12, about the blessings given by Moses. The new cycle starts by the reading of Genesis done by the chatan Bereishit\חתן בראשית - the bridegroom of "In head > in commencement, firstly".

At this point, each denomination is called to gather by the time of Sukkot, "hechag - The Feast" par excellence. This is the time that the Jewish community celebrates on the eighth day of the Assembly/atzeret- . This feast is parallel to the account of Jesus, standing in the Temple on the last day of the great Feast (the Booths) (John 7:37). The new cycle of reading Genesis is specific to the Jewish congregations. It should be noted that during the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), the faithful Muslims also turn around the Ka'aba, circumbulating around the the big cube that shelters the ancient Black Stone tracking back to Abraham-Ibrahim and even to Adam and Eve (cf. Rosh Hashanah is the anniversation of the creation for the Jews). In the Holy Sepulcher, the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox use to make three goings around the Tomb of Jesus.

We are in a period of slow moves towards assembling different spiritual identities. Such attempts resemble the pangs of birth in view to reach more connection and unity.

av Aleksandr

October 22/9, 2008 - 23 deTishri 5769 - כ"ג דתשרי תשס"ט

Photographs:
ספר תורה על הבמה - Scroll of the Torah
הר הבית - Temple Mount
קבר ישוע אמנאל הנצרי - Edicule of the tomb of Jesus in the Holy Sepulcher - Anastasis



Sunday, October 19, 2008

Uzhpizin : Unity among praying guests





The feast of Sukkot/Booths allows enjoying a break, even in this period of international turmoil and revolving redeeming days of renewal. How come that currencies, bonds, stock exchanges feverishly try to find a right level while Israel is keeping rather quietly her way. Our way is to cross the wilderness, the jungle/der helfker [דער הפקר] as we said in Yiddish. It is one of my favorite poem: "Don't think the world has been created to make your way by fighting with fists and and nails - mayn nit di velt iz a hefker bashaf'n mach'n a veg mit foyst'n un neg'l - מיין ניט די וועלט איז א הפקר באשאפן מאכן א וועג מיט פויסטן און נייגל.

"There is a time for throwing away the stones and a time to assemble them together" (Qohelet 3:5). Kohelet is the Book for the feast of the Tabernacles. Human nature is lifted up from odd vapor (no vanity) to the plenitude of the Great Assembly. Unity? This is last "tzig - ציג" that may reinforce our abilities to overcome any tempest. in Yiddish, a "tzig" is a "sudden parasitic irrational idea or breaking-in thought that cannot be controlled; it drives out to wandering deeds full of nonsense". We had it with Stock exchange markets last week. It should continue for quite a long period. It makes no sense but it is a compelling situation that does not really exist. Irrationality is a major spiritual feature in times of hardship. They are signs of renewing changes. People may not stand them. Faith makes them "usual stuff".

Indeed, power is a matter of wisdom, equilibrium, wit, insights and terrible temptation to get beyond corruption. This affects economics, historic events and synagogal or ecclesiastical leaders together as ordinary people. There is a moment when rulers, despots - i.e. also the humans they are supposedly governing - drown altogether: they have to face that they are none or nil. They are poor and even poorer than the needy they should help. At this point, human beings are all the same, except that monotheistic religions have a very special system "to push from collapsing to rising". This move opens the way for "ONE-ness - at-ONE-ment".

Unity is the consequence of a process that resembles the reality of the original "Big Bang". There are many ways in contemplating the unity of Oneness of God and uniqueness of connection between creation, human beings - One Holy Congregation - and the Creator. This is one of the major but rather ignored aspects of Tehillim/Psalm 102:1: "A prayer of the "afflicted/poor" [and when he is overwhelmed and pours out his complaint before the Lord]\תפילה לעני = tefillah le'ani" (Introduction). In Jewish tradition, the Omnipresent shows His likeness with the human beings: they complain to Him as He complains to them and they are both in need of building up one indivisible body.

This is at the heart of the "Tikkun Hoshana Rabba\תיקון הושענא רבה - the chants for Hoshana Rabba" recited on Monday this year, before Shemini Atzeret/שמני עצרת, the full joyous gladness to celebrate the unity of the holy congregation on the last day of Sukkot.

Unity implies begging God: He ought to show His Gifts: the prayer for His blessing through rain for Eretz Israel is a cry for a new and blessed portion of time that will endure over a full year. There is no shame to ask, to cry out in order to get, to knock and wait: even technical devices that can cause rain to fall, will not do it the way the Almighty will. He intends to give us more than we expect.

Most monotheistic religions are trying to gather in their believers, counting their "manpower" fellowships. The Jews have the traditional "Sound the great shofar for our freedom; and raise a banner [show a sign, a miracle/wonder - ושא נס] to gather our exiled and bring us together-one from the four corner of the earth into our land = = לקבץ גליותינו וקבצנו יחד מארבע כנפות הארץ לארצנו" (18 Benedictions/Amidah). Sukkot - a commemoration that disappeared from Christian feasts - is going through a strong reviving process in Judaism. Each year, a lot of Christian believers, mainly from the Protestant countries, join the Jewish congregations in Jerusalem. Chassidic groups reinforce the teaching of the Seven Noahide Laws for the "Gentes/Gentiles". The burden of history is so heavy that Christianity is not recognized as coherent. They are proposed to accept the full Noahide rules at Sukkot. This part of a real spiritual move remains unknown to the Christians that are not denied as "local ethnic/political groups". Intriguingly enough, these "chukim - קוחים/laws" are proposed in one way to those who are or become Christians through baptism. On the other hand, Jewish groups systematically teach them to the non-Jews. Rashi's decision that the Christians are no more "idolaters/ ovdey zarah - עובדי זרה" is basically not recognized by the Orthodox Jews. These rules are therefore a key-point for the present dialogue between Jews and Christians.

At the present, the tremendous changes that happened throughout Europe some 20 years ago allow the emerging of hidden Churches in the former communist countries and Greece. The Albanian Church rose up again. The Serbian Church goes through pressures born of the splits that affect the former Yugoslavian republic. North Cypriote Churches are closed. St. Paul's 2000th anniversary allows the Orthodox Churches to gather and re-consider how to face modernity while keeping the teachings of the Fathers and the Scripture. Some patriarchates or "self-ruled autonomous / autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Churches" would be tempted to seize back some properties. They would like to get back some faithful that got astray for political reasons. Other Churches are tempted by a new kind of ethnic nationalism [phyletism]. All the Churches are submitted to a new formatting process. At this point, the real teaching of the Church and true sharing of Eucharist should allow avoiding us to commit with splits or underground/open captures.

Everything is stretching out to "a cosmic Liturgy" that should be taught as the marvels of God's creation: "Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together, before the Lord - for He comes to judge the earth; with righteousness shall He judge the world and the people with equity (Psalm 98:7-9). This is our actual situation of turbulences. Things will be settled, but at what price.

This is the challenge for more unity! At a time of firing the workers, wasting stocks and money, food and fashion, sea and sex pollution and absence of basic morals. People are thirsty not to be left alone. It is seems difficult to be connected for a long time. Still, on the seventh day the Lord always been involved in the gigantic task of wedding people and matching creative ideas.

In Hebrew, the Aramaic word "ushpaz\ אושפז = the guest [who is welcome]" either in an inn or at the hospital ("ishpuz/ אישפוז"). The "ushpizin - אושפיזין" are the special guests that come as praying guests to gather in the Jewish people under the tents. "Ushppeyz אושפיז = a night's lodging" and it is stated: "The man has a lodging place in Palestine (= he is an occasional resident), which means that he is not at home, in a permanent house ("beyta/ ביתא") (Gittin 44b). Another statement: "The Divine fire took up its abode now here and now there" (Zevachim 61b). Guests and hosts are considered as enigmatic, uncertain characters. Well, the booths remind the wanderings through the wilderness, a time of great insecurity and lack of stability.

This is what we are most often at the present with multi-faceted personalities or unrecognized identities, both in real and virtual life. "it is customary to leave here and there empty jars and hides of slaughtered animals in an inn = ushpiza/ אושפזא-אי" (Yoma 12a). Each day of Sukkot, the Ushpizin come at night by turn: Abraham Avinu, Isaac, Jacob/Israel, Moses/Moshe Rabbenu, Aaron the High Priest, Joseph son of Jacob who saved the small family in Egypt and David who is considered as a messiah. It is highly important in Israel that women groups could, partly for the moment, add the "mother ushpizot/ אושפיזות" : Sarah, Myriam, Deborah, Hannah, Huldah, Abigail and Esther. By the time of Sukkot, all human beigns are called to welcome these special guests and be hosted whether Jews and non-Jews alike. It is an open inn, a real hospitality center (!) as Abraham did when he was welcoming anyone under his open tent in the heat of the day. At night, God provides a shelter and protects the inmates.

Still, the identity of the living looks like a quiz: "ish-pi-z-na/איש-פי-ז-נא = our inn, what's its character?" echoes to Eruvin 53b. Unknown individuals or groups are still welcome by the Lord of the universe. The Israeli film "Ushpizin" insisted on the redeeming part of the "etrog\ אתרוג - citrus" for a poor family that was saved after the way suggested by the Breslover Rebbe. The Christian tradition has this senseo f hospitality for the man saved by the good Samaritan "who was journeying here and there and paid for the lodging of the injured who spent the night at the local inn (Luke 10:33).


* * * * * * *

This is why it is so captivating, this year, to define in which way we are a “whole, full” human and spiritual community, clarifying the existence of different congregations, synagogues or churches, denominations. of our faith to “those near and those afar” (Eph. 2:17). To begin with, there were some Semits herding in the wilderness. Ropes or lines were used to defined a sacred area on the soil. Or small tents “ohel”: sheet covers in caravans (Talmud Erubin I, 19d). The ancient Semitic root suggests a comparison with “ahala\אהלא” or healing substance as “aloe” in Tractate Shabbat 90a: a place for resting, dwell, feel comfortable. Note that, at the present, there are in the Negev, some “ohaley shalomאוה\לי שלום” (tents of peace) inciting tourists or travelers to refresh and meditate under these open tents.

Basically, before and after the Temples, the point does not focus on buildings, but on the ingathering of human beings. “Kahal\קהל”: God’s Voice is heard to ingather and call public assembly to teach (Talmud Avodah Zarah 18a). This is a call to get assembled: “the tribes are called Kahal”(Tractate Horayot 46a). Thus, “I will praiseYou in the assembly/betoch qahal ahal’lecha\בתוך אהללך” (Psalm 22:23). Indeed, “Kanas\כנס” (to gather, store) developed into “Knesset\כנסת”: “assembly of worshippers, synagogue” (Berachot 6a, especially the synagogue of Alexandria with its glorious columns, Tractate Sukka 51b). “Hikhnis\הכניס” = “to introduce”; “k’nas\כנס”: to receive, enter, marry (Erubin III,21b).

This means that, before embodying any building, the congregation exists as an“assembly” because of a call from God, accepted and received. In Avot (Mishna) 4:11, “k’nessiyah\כנסיה” means “gathering - union for sacred purposes (the word means “church” in Modern Hebrew and Arabic). Indeed, it is very important to showing respect for the identity of each individual. Every person has their specificities. Subsequently,the nomad tribes settled down. They could build the Temple as “Beyt HaMikdash\בית המקדש”.

Ingathering is based on soils, simple realities, body limbs as shown by comparing the various Semitic roots, which makes sens in the Mishnaic tradition: “beyt midrash\בית מדרש” (house of prayer and learning), “shtub/shtib’l\שטוב-שטיבל in Yiddish (a hassidic small room for prayers and teachings). Interestingly, “bayit\בית” (house) seems to come from “bith, bo\בית- בא”: to enter, lodge in, pass the night (cf. Daniel 6:19, Tractate Sanhedrin. It also means “wife” (Yoma I,1: “(a) wife is (a) house”).

“Beyt Israel\בית ישראל” is less common at the present. It underscores the physical cohesion of a community. They function like the tents that may shelter any other people. Prophet Jeremiah (39:9) spoke of the ingathering of the Children of Israel in a ”beyt HaAm\בית העם” (house of the people) which strictly referred to a synagogue in Talmud Shabbat 32a. “Am\עם” is connected with “im\עם” (with, to link together.

Actually, the word sounds more “nationalistic” in Israel, although Prophet Isaiah’s appeal (40:1): “Nahmu, nahmu ami\נחמו נחמו עמי – comfort, o comfort my people, says God” may be read “Nahmu immi” = “comfort with Me”. Prayers work as an interactive callings from God to the congregation and vice versa.

There is another way to consider “the convocation of the faithful”: “mikra\מקרא” comes from “qara” (to call, convoke, read). It is another glance at the “holy convocation – mikra qodesh\מקרא קודש” (Talmud Taanit IV,68a) which depicts the congregation as “reading the Scriptures, legible as the readings of the Scriptures congregates the assembly”. Arabic “Qur’an” relates to “call, reading, recitation, book”. We may not be aware that each believer is a full part of the Scriptures and becomes visible, legible in some special way.

Ancient Greek “ekklesia-εκκλησια” meant a “convocation of individuals” called to resolve some problems, usually in a legal sense. In the Greek [as Jewish] traditions, there is a very strong connection between “law and judgment” –“individual and society” – “group/team and teachings”. It did not refer to some building but to a group. Thus, it naturally passed into Early Christianity to determine the “assembly of the believers in Jesus of Nazareth”. In the Gospel, the word retained the same meaning of a widely open, universal call expressed by “kahal/knesset - קהל\כנסת” that is mainly present in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the TaNaKh, realized by the 70 Jewish elders of Alexandria. The first synagogues appeared in Eretz Israel wherever a minyan (quorum of ten males) gathered for the prayer. In Greek, the word is “syn-/συν- = together; agein/αγειν = to call” and fully corresponds to “ekklesia-εκκλησια”.

In Jerusalem, the Beyt-Hamikdash or Temple (Greek “naos- ναος/ hieron-ιερον”) focused on the presence of the Shekhinah\שכינה and everyone could enter, Jews and Gentiles alike, as stated: “Everyday the disciples devoted themselves to meeting together in the Temple” (Acts of the Apostles 2:46; cf. I Kings 8:29-53 and Solomon’s prayer).

After the destruction of the Mikdash or “Mishkan\משכן”(Temple or Dwelling, cf. Tractate Erubin 2a), “synagogue-συναγογε” developed along with “ecclesia-εκκλησια” (Fr. église, Sp. ingresia, It. chiesa) and became “temple” (stretched out building for worship) by 1598 in Europe. English “church” comes from Greek “Kyriakon” (of the Lord /house/κυριακον) and influenced most German and Slavic cultures (Icelandic: kirkja, Norw. kirke, Germ.: Kirche, Dutch: kerk, Russian/Ukr.: tserkov’ - tserkva/церковь - церква).

Since the destruction of the Second Temple, each festive lightning of the lamps testifies that, unexpectedly, the “House of Israel” resemble/assembles the living Temple represented by gathering in each flesh and soul. There is a famous (rather late) Jewish morning prayer recited everyday: “Modeh ani\מודה אני, I gratefully thank you, o living and eternal King, for you have returned my soul within me with compassion and abundant trust”. It echoes the Divine Presence as shown in the imposing Byzantine tradition that embodies the “Church”: “Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of truth, Omnipresent and accomplishing all things, come and dwell in us, cleanse us from all our sins and save, o Good, our souls”.

Photographs:
הכותל המערבי בירושלים
The Western Wall, Jerusalem
טחנת-רוח לכל הרוחות
Mills in times of turmoil
ועדה בין-אורתודוכסית בפנר 2008
Inter-Orthodox Synod at the Phanar, 2008. Left to right: Patriarchs Theophilos (Jerusalem), Theodoros (Alexandria), Bartholomaios (Constantinople), Ignatius (Antioch), Aleksei (Moscow).