Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Mouth converses

What can we do? Our earthly time is a night and day struggle for life, in many evident aspects; at times, things would be more wildly off-the-wall. Israeli society and Jewishness get to the point as if they would be forced to searching their reality, identity, actions. Pesach is the drama about good health: good ears when Gods mouth speaks (Peh siach/sochech פה שיח\שוחח). Solid travailing wombs to birth a nation, some grains of sechel (discernment - שכל).

As long as Jews can play games between rich and poor, needy and schnorrers, schmooze about fate and money, jewelry, trading, career, show to be "klug un intelligent ober a biss'l paskudne\ קלוג און אינטעליגנט אבער א ביסל פאסקודנע = clever and well-educated but a bit obnoxious in their behaviors", things are abnormal.

True, it is amazing how people, nations have the nerve to be arrogant. One peculiar component of this "essence" is the pretence to be best, first, successful, prestigious, mighty (though ready to help at your early convenience and without your consent!), undauntedly powerful. It sounds like our chutzpah\חוצפה, but the word brings forth another point of view: "how irrepressible (chatzifah\חציפה) is the land of Israel that is still productive after devastation" (Y. Talmud Taanit IV:69b). This is the real prodigy this year!

There is more in Judaism. Things deal with constant, steady, persistent combat. Not the simple basic fight we have to face because of long-long-long-term, age-long and stubborn rejection, hatred and misunderstanding. This is normal. It is normal because of what happened during this overnight Yaakov's wrestling. It belongs to the standards of alienation and similarity between God and Israel. This wrestling is the artifact of the original Pesach event.

Theodore Herzl's "I have a dream" is somehow parallel to Martin Luther King's message. This year, we are both in full dream and full nightmare: dream of newness with creolization, pidjinization, intermingling cultural and mental mixing melting pot. Then, as a sort of counter-point, impoverishment, traders' twisting, fraud, laundering, sloth and gossip, cruel diseases come to haunt souls, some bones in between and eat like worms bank accounts, reserves, profits, benefits... they can reduce to nil those who have nothing and will be even be taken what they could not even hold in their hands. Jesus of Nazareth said this, as Hillel and all the Sages. This is the nightmare, a she-horse that rides during the night in the pretending free spaces of our brains.

Pesach\פסח is more than any dream; it is much more than any nightmare. Pesach is not governed by the same rules that are in force our societies. Pesach gives to each Jew the opportunity to know who he is in the Face of the Most High; not for their profit but for the sake of any collectivity, without exclusion.

Pesach cannot be a nice supper that gathers families. Late Rabbi Yeshayahu Leibowitz declared that we are definitely not aware of the fact that our society is so segmented (he stated "split") that we are not even aware of the fact that our Seder Pesach\סדר פסח - Order for the celebration of Passover - could hardly be shared on a voluntary basis by all the inhabitants of Israel. We undoubtedly have numerous and often opposed ways in understanding and "accounting (the haggadah\הגדה = account) the passing from slavery-bondage/serfdom to freedom. He made that statement during a lecture and a Israeli Defense general got really surprised and agreed with him. Pesach is unique. It is unique day after day when the Jews mention the flight from Egypt. It is much more significant during the night of Nisan 14th: each Jews DOES COME OUT IN PERSON FROM EGYPT. This makes the event totally unique because it only happens once a year and not everyday. Moreover, year after year, each person and community (and all the nations of the world) partake in this way-out from slavery to freedom and release.

This bounces through all human beings even if it sounds invisible and ignored. It revives the world: it does mean that the humans (Jews or non-Jews) are really conscious of such an event and share it. This is challenging because it defies "memory - zikkaron - זיכרון " as a bouncing process and move that constantly reinvigorates past, present and future. Pesach is on the move, Pesach is not stiff or fixed. Thus, there can be a tremendous distance between what we supposedly celebrate (a nice family or community ingathering) and the prospect of daily redemption.

This goes far beyond Jacob's special call to be Israel. Abraham was the "ivri\עברי - going across the two rivers". Yaakov crossed the ford of Yabbok: note that Ya-Bo -k is the reversed order of the letters in Ya-Ko-v \ יעקב (heel, limp) and it is said: "VaYeAVeK ish imo - ויעבק איש עמו - and a man wrestled with him" (v. 25) as he was remained alone: the real wrestling now deals, in loneliness - though not solitude - with his special oneness and identity. Like Abraham he has to choose new priorities and geographical orientations. He was "standing behind on his heels (EKev\עקב)"; from now on, he will face humankind and himself because the "unknown" fighter was both of divine and human nature. He called the place "Peniel" because he fought timelessly overnight in a human and divine Panim el panim פנים על פנים = face to face encounter. Was it Esau, Jacob's own shadow? both God and the brothers? "God created us in His image and likeness" (Genesis 1:27). But moreover, it seems at this point that God concealed something definitely substantial with Jacob becoming Israel. Adam found his fulfillment in the removing of "tzela - rib, side, shadow" (Genesis 2:18) because he was alone.

Jacob was alone during the wrestling. Adam woke up and found his wholeness in Eve/Chawah, the woman who is indeed the crown of creation. The same happens during that combat in which Jacob urged the "ish - man" to tell his name. In return, he is hurt at his hip and his "tzolea צולע - limping, walking" is crooked to one side ("Are the paralyzed and crippled to punish him who holds?" Pessakti Rabbati 13). He is no more alone but "achieved, whole" = "shalem\שלם, strangely also "sholem\שולם = loyal (Genesis 33:18). His new name is that of a "feminine" mildness given upon birth from Jewish women that "shall make the crooked straight (yashar\ישר) = Yisrael" (Isaiah 40:4). This combat ended at "alot hashachar = the breaking or ascending of dawn\עלות השחר". It is an identity rebirth: Jacob wrestled and removed the useless clue of "dirty dust = abak\עבק" (cf. Yaakov, ekev = heel, Yabbok) in order to be able to face his destiny. He became Israel and birthed the Community envisioning what repeatedly happened at Beth-El as dawn broke, i.e. is "making a sort of aliyah-ascent\עליה". He has been injured but he relocated to achieving Israel's true goal as a firstly multi-faceted tribe who has to share the blessings with all the nations.

The main problem is whether we accept or not that this wrestling is not a victory per se; this inner combat empowers our struggling for life in whatever circumstances of our lives without ever stepping down because we witness for much more than ourselves.

When Jesus of Nazareth was dying, he said to John, his disciple to take Mary his mother to his home. He rose from the dead, then met with Maria Magdalena. Jesus saw "the unbelievable woman" who will powerfully convince the scary disciples that the Master is alive! This is comparable to Adam welcomed Eve, mother of the living, after a sleep that resembles death and solitude.

This lines out with Yaakov becoming Israel, the father of the twelve Tribes, one Community, both injured and unwillingly reinforced. Thus, Rachel died after having birthed Benyamin, the first "son of Abraham" to be born in the land of Canaan. What firstly appeared to look like a cheating story turned into a dream that come true at dawn breaking and continues to interrogate :"hagidah-na shmecha הגידה נא שמך- tell me Your Name?" that can be viewed in the injured "gid hanashe - sinew of the thigh\גיד הנשה". As Sarah for Abraham, Rachel for Yaakov, Mary Magdalene for Jesus, women (Aramaic 'nesha\נשא') remove, discard wounds and debts and save men, i.e. humankind (Berakhot 17b/Chullin 91a).

Indeed, "[Christians] dwell in their own fatherlands, but as if sojourners in them; they share all things as citizens, and suffer all things as strangers. Every foreign country is their fatherland, and every fatherland is a foreign country." (Letter to Diognetus). How curious that Jews experienced the same in both a terrible and marvelous way. They have to respond to this situation with much righteousness in our generation. Freedom remains the goal. This goal, in Judaism and Christianity, boomerangs the whole of humankind and creatures into a living memory that touches us beyond our consent.

av aleksandr [Winogradsky Frenkel]

April 5/23, 2009 - 11 deNisan 5769 - י"א דניסן תשס"ט
The smallest TaNaCh on a grain (Haifa University)
Micro-mini-TaNaCh on a grain-size chip... something like faith as big as the grain of mustard...

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