Thursday, February 19, 2009

Do not carry false rumors

Parashat Mishpatim of this weekly portion in Exodus 21:1-24:18 describes with much precision the laws and articles pertaining to justice, righteousness. Chapter 23 has some very appealing features. It deals with the respect and responsibility that should be exercised toward foreigners and enemies. "You must not carry false rumors; you shall not join hands with the guilty to act as a malicious witness. You shall neither side with the mighty (אחרי-רבים = acharei rabim = the multitude) to do wrong, you shall not give perverse testimony in a dispute so as to pervert it in favor of the mighty – nor shall you show deference to a poor man in his dispute." (Ex. 23: 1-4).

"False rumors" = שמע שוא = shema shav »are things that are supposedly heard and reported, but not only that ! The Hebrew expression includes the fact that this slander or false allegations are heard and conveyed "in order to reduce to nil ». The phrase is special: "lo tisse shema shav\לא תשא דמע שוא" corresponds to something like "you shall not bear positive witness to what has been heard in order to exterminate, assassinate, reduce to nil". The root is "shav\שוא = shoah\שואה = reduce to silence, to nil, to exterminate". One way the humans have to wipe out without even paying any respect to anybody is to look blindly at those they want to destroy and annihilate. Thus, it is not possible to speak of "false, mistaken, erroneous" rumors or slander, words. In Yiddish, for instance "chap'n a shmu'es\כאפן א שמועות = to have a conversation". It is not so bad and describes with some humor a general tendency to blah-blah around. It always seems that chatting cannot really be bad or cause any serious damage. It is how things usually start. We always think we speak with much innocence. Russian thinkers have underlined that "every uttered word is a lie". This may be the consequence of some Scandinavian love for silence, developed in huge spaces and forests. It drifts to silence and every word has then a definite value and meaning.

There is a Yiddish saying stating that "the tongue is smallest muscle yet it can kill". It is fascinating how words can lead to misunderstanding, inability to share when people desperately look for being connected. It is maybe one of our biggest defects at the present, though all societies have always been at pain in have authentic and supporting dialogues.

But the prohibition, negative mitzvah is extremely strong, vehement. It is a commandment that strictly forbid any rumor, i.e. irresponsible gossiping, uncontrolled and bad speech about any other person. There is even more: this rule concerns our relationship with the others, the people who are different from us, do not belong to our "tribe, language, race, culture". It is the moral ethics applied toward foreigners and our enemies.

Intriguingly, such commandments are usually considered as "Christian", but they are basically rooted in the Jewish universal awareness of what humans are responsible for. We do know that innocence should be preserved as far as possible before a person can be brought to the court in order to be granted a real judgment. The whole of our present Israeli society replies upon a system of permanent
dribbled denunciation without proofs, evidence and trustworthy witnesses. As a consequence, many politicians and leading personalities are the victims of slanders. It does not mean they are totally and definitely innocent, but the social and media system just report them and "annihilate" their reputation. The system is international and shows everywhere because of some unbelievable power of false news, forged information, virtual or normal personal or collective attacks.

Rumors can kill. They do more: they reduce to nil. What is the difference? There is a fundamental commandment "lo tirtzeach\לא תרצח = you shall not kill, murder". In the Ten Paroles, the commandment directly corresponds to the way we are called to worship and venerate God as the Creator of all the living. This is a real "face-to-face", "heart-to-heart" proof of authenticity for all human beings. The animals kill each other "without remorse". They need to find food and they seemingly try to survive. There maybe more in their destinies, indeed. But this is a programmed combat for some more days, months, years. Humans have been breathed in a soul, a spirit; we are inspirited. This means that we would be able to struggle for life but this can be portioned in two or more ways: there is a real struggle in the way we are living, against elements, environmental factors, economic and social realities. Humans can be wolves in their relationships, but they know how to control their moods and attitudes.

On the other hand, the versatility of oral speech and the way it is carried and conveyed, persistently and swiftly, in very rampant and subtle manners, can only endeavor to do something that surpasses "simple" killing or murder. It is called in Hebrew "reduce to nil". This is the now famous root "shav/ shva- שו\שוא" that had been use for long in linguistics when a vowel disappears or "reduced to silent sound". The word is actually very well known and maybe too much in some way as determining "the Holocaust = the extermination of the Jews during World War II". "Too much known" in a special sense: the word is to be found in the psalms and shows up in many different verses of the TaNaKH.

"Shahava, shehi\שחוא\שהי" means "wasteness, ruin" as in Targum Psalm 78:18. The radical tracks back to interesting notion of something that cannot be grasped, seized, stopped and disappears without leaving any material traces. The best example is "time = shahut\שהות", (not to be compared with "hour = shaah\שעה that on the contrary depicts time as an event that is made real and may even save, laasot/lehoshiya- לעשות\להושיע). There is a concept of "delay, delaying", something that tarries out anyhow.

One of the best examples for "vacancy, inanity, falsehood" is found in the following statement: "I swear that I will eat this loaf and I swear that I shall not eat it" in which the former is the useless oath or vow, the second is a false oath (Shevuot 3, 9). In both cases the Talmud underlines that the person feels guilty for not accomplishing the oath either because he does not eat the loaf or he takes an oath that he will not implement. The matter is a real versatility and lack of responsibility in giving a word. This is why Jesus, in the Gospel, asked his disciples to refrain from taking oaths. In the Semitic tradition and cultural environment, words are like oaths, i.e. that they definitely link humans with their conscience, their awareness and responsibility in achieving something, which always link them to God. In this view, God is told to have His Word: "The Lord had sworn and He does not deny His saying/ does not "discomfort" His parole/ HaShem nishba ve lo yinachem\ה' נשבע ולא ינחם" (Ps. 110:4).

Thus, rumors and gossip are comparable to "timeless delays" because time cannot be stopped and it disappears without leaving any traces of time-funded materiality. Words are still "materialistic and real" in the Semitic environment. "Davar\דבר = word, but also matter, object, thing". Long before recorders existed, the Semites had considered that sounds and words are as real as stones or visible elements. This is why silence is also made of unutterable sounds or still "unveiled" substances, just as the scrolls of the TaNaKh. This also makes the Gospel more dynamic and vibrant because the words it include can always be discovered in new ways.

In Hebrew and Aramaic, "rumors" are linked to sounds and hearing. Thus it is a mixture of very special psychological and sociological attitudes: time cannot be controlled, but rumors can swiftly go back and forth; they open the field of impossible matters or purposes that can be substantiated although most people concerned are duly aware of the fact that their nature and consistency does not exist and thus does not allow any form of possible materialization.

Instead of being true and really upon authentic facts and elements, rumors drizzle and wither because they are based on more than time that passes. When historical factors and events do exist, they are stored and can be interpreted in many different ways with regards to their backgrounds. Rumors are spread upon the basis of what is fancied from minuscule elements that suddenly turn to be real in some niches of our common imagination and aim to destroy what is usually a tiny source of life.

Again let's take a statement: "It is vain (shav\שוא = a source of reduction to nil) to assert something that is known to be impossible, e.g. that we can see a camel flying in the air" (Shevuot 3:9-10). An oath that slowly destroys by reducing a matter of a subject to nil is a "shav - שוא" and therefore should be considered as a "shekerשקר = lie, false oath". "A vain prayer is a prayer that deals with a matter or a thing that cannot be changed" (Berachot 9, 3). This is a big concern for the Jewish tradition as well as for the Christian faith. "Nothing is impossible to God" (Gen. 18: 14; Luke 1: 37). Still, false rumors aim at denying the reality of various opinions, matters, existences, lifestyles and paths, what can truly be ascertained as real and extant.

The paradox of life with God on based on something that only relies upon Divine Providence (Shechinah\שכינה) is that it cannot be proven regularly and requires a lot of time to be evidenced with some and then more and more certainty and precision. In this field, human nature often prefers to test and testing implies distrust and/or absence of trust or hope. It often the consequence of self-denial for some specific reasons. Faith and trust always require somehow to surpass our own mental "status quo".

Hatred or alterity are natural orientations. People might protest and claim that this is not real. Indeed, our first human reaction is a sort of Kafka's "strach - touha" i.e. "attractiveness and repulsion". Franz Kafka was driven to personal despair. It might be more comfortable for most of the people to get drifted to such negative feelings. The way of faith, on the other hand, teaches how to get rid of such contradictory and nullifying tendencies.

Traditionally, only miracles can change or even slightly alter the cause of false rumors and their consequences. The famous example in the Bible is given by Bilaam, the pagan prophet who was paid to exercise his competences by cursing Israel. On his way, his she-donkey gave him a kick and stopped. He fell twice ut could not understand what was going on (Numbers 22: 5 ssq.). The she-donkey had more insights with brains or any understanding of the matter than a professional prophet who simple was about to do his work. Finally, his "mind reversed" and he unintentionally started to praise Israel (Numbers 24: 5)with the words that continue to open the Jewish daily morning prayer: "How beautiful are your tents, Jacob, your dwellings, Israel!"

It is significant that Israel's daily prayer starts with the words of a pagan, non-Jewish and cursing prophet who was sent to exterminate the House of Israel. Because Israel, as true believers do, does not exist for her sake and her pride. On the other hand, she shows God's loving-kindness and Finger in His actions to save and redeem. This is a major point that should draw us to humility and patience, keeping the non-judgmental line. The commandments is essential. It is most important at the present, although it might often be misinterpreted by the Jews and the non-Jews and other believers. Self-justification hardly allows to unfold common blindness. It often explains why pushy actions are required in numerous situations.

Nonetheless, God gives a very fundamental commandment in the weekly "Mishpatim" portion: we ought to abstain to gossip or to carry false and exterminating rumors about ourselves and the others, whoever concerned. Foreigners, alien people are those whom we do not regard correctly. They may seemingly rebuke, oppose us or our egos, lifestyles, cultures, thoughts, traditions. There is a repeatedly mentioned commandment that is recalled by the Jews at Rosh HaShanah (New Year day in the Autumnal Feasts): "Do remember that your ancestor -Abraham - was a wandering Aramean" (Deut. 26: 5 = "a fugitive Aramean = ארמי אבד אבי = 'arami oved ani'") with somehow corresponds to the heralding Presence and decision of God (Genesis/Bereishit 4:12). It is not a question of cursing, it is not a punishment though many would continue to comment in this way. It encompasses the whole of the human call to enhance who humankind is as a God-interface partner throughout history. It is possible to get to the fulfillment of love, depth, breadth, length.

In the present, we see how alteration can be powerful to threat human unity. There is a constant "back and forth" movement that goes from inclusion to total exclusion, attempts to love the others and some enemies and, on the other hand, to deny them and reject them till they are reduced to nil. The point is that "false - reducing to nil - rumors" do not require any killing or murder. The point is that rumors are comfortable when they slander and play the odious role of those who never touch the others. Or they come close to the aliens and then quickly fake to disappear. Rumors do not kill. They do not look face to face; the rarely face the enemy. This is why those who hate via the medium of rumors and false statements pretend they do not know of anything; or that they were told. Or that they need more evidence. We do not need to be member of any religious hierarchy to act that way. We just can click and connect on the computer and then report anonymously, remove and delete. It is more convenient! Simply for convenient. If people carrying gossips and false rumors could get a bit aware of what they do, they would consciously get ill and "out of order". It is a part of the long-term spiritual healing to allowing a societal curing of attitudes that cannot get out of our fancies. This is why Jesus is told to get away from the region where he cast the swines down the mountain into the sea (Matthew 8:32).

The mental aspect is essential and makes a spiritual conflict that should be healed. Rumors are not materialized and they need to remain in such a stand. Otherwise they would be destroyed very quickly. On the other hand, rumors need to sound credible though human minds could admit they are false. This would be a source of discomfort. Thus, rumors exist to pour out the poisoning wickedness that our brains cannot suppress in a natural way. This is also why there is a great sense of responsibility shared by God in the giving of His Mitzvot. He is convinced that, in the end, the humans will be able to overcome their passions and irrationalities.

A famous rabbi was asked by a so-called talented student how he could be ordained a rabbi? The answer of the Sage was that he should learn the Shulchan Aruch (The Prepared Table) and its five books. The student immediately corrected and proudly declared: "There are only four books in the Shulchan Aruch!" The tzaddik replied: "Not at all! There are indeed four books that are written, but there is a fifth volume that is more important and not written down: "sechel\שכל = discernment, capacity to have brain and judge without judging".

It takes a lot of time and we are not patient. The commandments given this week are definitely essential because they show that God trusts in human beings. He has sworn that He will not try to destroy the world. The question is pending: why do we continue to slander? Maybe because we are lightminded. We did not reach the Gates of death to widely boomerang around the power of life.

av aleksandr [Winogradsky Frenkel]

February 19-6, 2009 - 25 deShvat 5769 - כ"ה דשבט תשס"ט

Monday, February 16, 2009

With all your money

How to continue to describe the parallels that exist between Judaism and Christianity in the organization of their communities? It should normally be time to depict the various functions and their backgrounds that are really intriguing and totally unknown. Christians took many aspects of their structures from Judaism which pattern them on ancestral connections with the Sumerian and Egyptian traditions with some local influences found among the pagan people in the Land of Canaan, but also in the Sinai and today's Jordan, Arabia as well as the Greek and Persian cultures.

The weekly reading portion includes the first special reading "Shekalim\שקלים" that we read in Shemot/Ex.30:1-16. So it might be time to speak "money", not only: our way to understand what it means to use money? all kinds of money, financial actions and transfers, assets, bank accounts, pockets, magnetic and virtual money exist. They are a full part of our spiritual and ethical activity governed by the Torah and the Mitzvot.

We live in a country, a region and a cultural area where it is normal, for various reasons, to check the rates of currencies all the day long. Along with this constant checking and rating, the Jewish tradition requires that every Jew recite three or four times the "Sh'ma Yisrael\שמע ישראל - Hear, Israel" (Devarim/Deuteronomy 6:4-10) which states: "Hear Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One ( Echad-אחד = alone, only One). You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart (bechol levavcha\בכל לבבך = whole-heartedly - spirit and body) and with all your soul (uvchol nafshecha\ובכל נפשך = life, existence, being) and with all your might (uvchol meodecha\ובכל מאדך = plus, surplus, very being, human being). It is definitely not easy to translate this text into any tongue. “Levav\לבב” also deals with our conscience, heart but as nurturing blood to our brains and allowing to think, elaborate, speculate (good for money). It is a sort of twofold heart that sustains the major pipe organ that beats in our chests and our feelings, minds, reflections.

“Nefesh\נפש” refers to our soul (rofe nafshi\רופא נפשי = psychiatrist in Modern Hebrew), but it is restrictive because it encompasses the whole of our being, existence, considering that our bodies and physical shapes are also a part of the soul that abides in our skulls). Then, “uvchol meodecha\ובכל מאדך” vitalizes and energizes what firstly is determined as our “levav\לבב” and “nefesh\נפש”. Money is the dynamic creative factor that activates socializing capacities to “incorporate = embody” and structure civilization and relationships by means of economic resources, called “me’od” in the mitzvah.

Interestingly, the “Sh’ma Yisrael\שמע ישראל” is cited by Jesus in the three synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke (Matthew. 22:34-40/ Mark 13:28-31/Luke 10:25-28/, always in a context of questions asked by Sadducees, Scribes (they did not believe in the resurrection, nor the Oral Law) or testing Jesus about “eternity – the world-to-come”. The Greek version of the Gospel adds “and wit hall your spirit/pneuma” because the Indo-European language and culture require exact precisions predetermined and obvious in Hebrew.

But the point is that every human being does live in a consciously developed and existing economic system. We all live in a money cash flow society that is highly sophisticated in the present. Thus, whoever we are, and whatever our opinion about the subject, we use and participate to monetary ups and downs, prosperity, wealth and crashes. No one can pretend to be excluded from any money system, i.e. a valuation, trading, purchases and sales, profits or loss. Now, pets are a part of this system, but a long-hair Tel Aviv Dizengoff Street or beach greyhound, a Husky in Beersheva, poodles, cats, birds, Guinea pigs or parrots, donkeys and camels can be “very so much” and parade for our pleasure. They cannot be the “me’od\מאד” (very much being) as humans are, sometimes against their will. They can’t sell each others, buy their pet food or even barter. Humans do trade humans and this wild attitude is exhibited everywhere.

Each of us has a certain value; and even a zero valuation or a minus shows our rate. This estimation daily affects un/under/employment networks that are virtually expanding through the web. Thus, there is little difference between the penniless Arab hired daily on the road for some odd and dangerous unsecured work and any executive, business, manager or top-ranking specialist that can be hired and fired by supply and demand fancies. Highly handicapped people who hardly can walk and, e.g. work for repairing furniture – a heavy physical task for them paid at minimum expenditures – are a part of this system.

This is indeed a real spiritual and theological question. Faith includes that we receive and give back all that we possess in cash, money, properties, assets and there is no way to hide them under beds (as many sick people do in elderly homes or when staying at the hospital). God can see till under a bed. The thing is that most spiritual communities, any faith or structure feel a sort of discomfort toward money. They would naturally be inclined to rob any institution for the sake of the Most High, provided they could not loose a farthing = a fourth of a penny.

It is obviously easier to accept to love God with all our heart and soul, while we are fresh and rather at ease. Israel has always been a collectivity showing a lot of mutual support. The poor and the needy could be at times looked at with some reluctance, but they are a part of the way we totally trust in God. Because a Jew does know that economics are sound, can be healthy and save people. Jews can feel as repelled and ashamed as some Christians or cultures about money. Curiously, their “obligation” to work with money along the ages helped them get deep into a firsthand and exhaustive understanding of human life dignity as revealed by the Torah and the Mitzvot. Money, cash, assets are indeed as changeable and whimsical as human souls.

In English, “money” comes from Fr. “monnaie”, It. “moneta” that tracks back to the Roman goddess “Juno” in whose temple money was coined. It is quite possible that the word is linked to (ad)monere (to suggest, warn) that gave “monitor”, i.e. “to make the good choice, go the right way. Germ./Dutch “Geld” is connected with of “Gültigkeit – validity” of the money as coin, then as paper (banknotes). Scandinavian as Slavic turn around “penningar” and “pinianzy” cf. “penny”). In the Antiquity, “Talent” was a measure of weight and money that started to be used for abilities and capacities, human aptitudes. In English colloquial, “coins, dough, bread, lolly, gelt, readies” have equivalent in most languages. Slang “Mazuma” comes from Yiddish “mezum’n-מזומן = Heb.: “mezuman-מזומן/cash”.

The normal Jewish attitude was written in a shop in Pelikaansstraat (Antwerp-Belgium) some years ago: “men nemt alle gelt un tzolt mezum’en\מען נעמט אלע געלט און צאלט מזומן – we accept all currencies and pay cash”. In Israel, people can get wild for kessef\כסף (Hebrew) or massar (Arabic) and speak of it all the time. It is a part of the Israeli socializing culture to check any bill (cheshbon\חשבון) and even to argue till the last shekel. Is it a sort of lack of trust? Aramaic and Hebrew word “arnak\ארנק” (purse) is found as “arnaka\ארנקא = membrane of the brains = money-bag” (Bava Bathra 8a) and “arnaki\ארנקי = merchant’s neck hanging coin bag” (Kiddishin 1,61a). It became “arnaquer = to rob and cheat” in French.

Hebrew “cheshbon\חשבון” (bill, account) is interesting to understand the spiritual impact of money on our beings and personal, private attitudes toward ourselves and the others. Money obliges us to “chashav i.e. both ‘to count, calculate’ and ‘to think, meditate’. “Cheshbon-nefesh\חשבון-נפש” should be the daily meditation and review of the day that we have to do before going to sleep.

Now, the Hebrew word “kessef\כסף = silver”, originally a “Meah\מעה = a piece equal to 1/6th of a denar. The usual example about Kessef is Kiddushin 1,1 which states that a man can acquire a woman by giving her an amount of money that she would accept. It is positive. No bargain or woman on sale. On the contrary, she determines if the money corresponds to her value or shows that the man is acceptable as permanent life partner. In Yoma 4,41a, it is said: “The Land of Israel was divided by three methods: by lots, by the Urim and Turim (priestly breast plate prophecy) and according to the value of property.”

Money rates line with utopia. This shows how inconstant we are today. For example, the value of the European currencies basically remained unchanged from the Congress of Vienna in 1815 till the outburst of World War I in 1914. Since then, all societies and cultures went through dramatic and unstable review of all their parameters and money is rather “floating”. “me’odecha\מאדך” is considered in a special way by the Talmud: “Whatever measure he may measure out to you, give thanks to him, very-very much” (Berachot 9,5). This substantiates what God saw, when He achieved the work of creation and the shaping of ADaM\אדם that humans are called to be “very-very much\מאד-מאד”, not “too much”, just “very human” in producing and sharing. “Me’od\מאד” is written with the same consonants as ADaM in Hebrew.

As a rule, women are underpaid in most countries. Providence may be a Name of God, still it requires a lot of faith even if it is a basic spiritual experience. Today, money often appears to be virtual. Just as some kids might never have seen a corn field but only pop corn boxes, people are lost by misusing their credit cards that mutate in their minds to debit sheets and true overdrafts. In fact, money is beyond any worth and this maybe misleading for some people at a psychological level.

Jesus and the Gospel often use money as parables. The “talents” appeared in this saying: a master gave 5 talents to one, 2 to another, 1 to a last servant who put it into the earth. The others got interests from their banks. So the master decided to take this unique talent and to give it to the first servant. “For everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Matthew 25:14-30). The phrase has to be understood as a spiritual link between money, faith and being.

On another occasion, Jesus was in the Temple, sitting opposite the treasury. Many rich people put large sums. A poor widow also came and put two small coins. Jesus said: “this poor widow put more than all the other contributors… for they gave from their surplus wealth, but she from her poverty” (Mark 12:41-44), i.e. her full trust in God’s Providence.

We will soon be en route through wilderness. Thus, when reading portion “Shekalim”, while training for penance during the Great Lent, this parable of Jesus that fits so much with our attitude in society: “What woman having ten coins and losing one, would not light the lamp and sweep the house searching carefully until she finds it? Having found it she calls her friends to rejoice. In the same way, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” It means for everyone who turns back to God (la’assot teshuvah לעשות תשובה, answer to Him; “metanoia” in Greek : correct one’s mind, conscience”) to get to the spiritual insights how to love God to the fullest.

av Aleksandr [Winogradsky Frenkel]

February 16/3, 2009 – 22 deShvat 5769 - כ"ב דשבט תשס"ט

Sunday, February 15, 2009

St. Modomnoc O'Neil and the Bees

By Denny Sellen, Eastern Orthodox Christian based in Seattle
(Specialist in Semitic Anthropology and Compared Religions)

Since the first time I read this story, it has made a great impression on me. The Celtic saints, in particular those of Ireland, have always exhibited a keen connection with the world of nature, with which they felt no duality, but rather perfect harmony. They saw the natural world as being at the forefront of redemption and the grace of God as being able to work through even the violent-natured of animals. This story is an example of the lovely the Celtic saint had for animals, and, more over, the love those animals had for them. We cannot forget the stories of modern day saints and their animal friends, such as Saint Seraphim of Sarov who had a bear that lived with him (whom he had met when it was an adult), or Fr. Paisios of Mount Athos (d. 1995) who according to countless witnesses had a supernatural ability to communicate with animals and even became sadened when a visitor killed a snake.

St. Modomnoc O'Neil, Bishop
(Domnoc, Dominic, Modomnock)
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -
Died c. 550. Modomnoc, descended of the Irish royal line of O'Neil, had
to leave Ireland to train for the priesthood, since he was a student
before the creation of the great Irish monasteries. His name is most
likely to have been Dom or Donogh but the Celtic saints were so tenderly
loved that "my", "little" and "dear" were very often added to the names,
which completely altered their appearance. Another disciple from Ireland
much loved by St.David was originally called Aidan, but usually appears
in accounts of the monastery as Maidoc.

He crossed the English Channel to be educated under the great Saint
David at Mynyw (Menevia, now Saint David's) Monastery in Wales. All
those who resided in the community were expected to share in the manual
work as well as the study and worship, and there is a story which tells
how one day Modomnoc was working with another monk making a road, when
he had occasion to rebuke him for some matter. The other monk was seized
with anger and took up a crowbar, but before he could bring it down on
Modomnoc, SaintDavid, who was witness to the incident, stayed his arm by
his spiritual powers and it remained paralysed.

Modomnoc was given charge of the bees and he loved it. And so did
everyone else--they all loved honey, but few like taking charge of the
hives. Modomnoc liked the bees almost more than he liked their honey. He
cared for them tenderly, keeping them in straw skeps in a special
sheltered corner of the garden, where he planted the kinds of flowers
best loved by the bees.

Every time they swarmed, he captured the swarm very gently and lovingly
and set up yet another hive. He talked to the bees as he worked among
them and they buzzed around his head in clouds as if they were
responding. And, of course, they never stung him.

At the end of summer, they gave him much honey, so much that Modomnoc
needed help carrying it all inside. The monks never ran out of honey for
their meals or making mead to drink. The good Modomnoc thanked God for
this, and he also thanked the bees. He would walk among the skeps in the
evening and talk to them, and the bees, for their part, would crowd out
to meet him. All the other monks carefully avoided that corner of the
monastery garden because they were
afraid of being stung.

As well as thanking the bees, Modomnoc did everything he could to care
for them in cold and storm. Soon his years of study ended, and Modomnoc
had to return to Ireland to begin his priestly ministry. While he was
glad to be returning home, he knew he would be lonely for his bees. On
the day of his departure, he said good-bye to the Abbot, the monks, and
his fellow students. Then he went down to the garden to bid farewell to
his bees.

They came out in the hundreds of thousands in answer to his voice and
never was there such a buzzing and excitement among the rows and rows of
hives. The monks stood at a distance watching the commotion in wonder,
"You'd think the bees knew," they said. "You'd think they knew that
Modomnoc was going away."

Modomnoc resolutely turned and went down to the shore and embarked the
ship. When they were about three miles from the shore, Modomnoc saw what
looked like a little black cloud in the sky in the direction of the
Welsh coast. He watched it curiously and as it approached nearer, he saw
to his amazement that it was a swarm of bees that came nearer and nearer
until finally it settled on the edge of the boat near him. It was a
gigantic swarm--all the bees from all the hives, in fact. The
bees had followed him!

This time Modomnoc did not praise his friends. "How foolish of you," he
scolded them, "you do not belong to me but to the monastery! How do you
suppose the monks can do without honey, or mead? Go back at once, you
foolish creatures!" But if the bees understood what he said, they did
not obey him. They settled down on the boat with a sleepy kind of
murmur, and there they stayed. The sailors did not like it one bit and
asked Modomnoc what he intended to do.

He told them to turn the boat back for Wales. It was already too far for
the bees to fly back, even if they wanted to obey him. He could not
allow his little friends to suffer for their foolishness. But the wind
was blowing the boat to Ireland and when they turned back, the sail was
useless. The sailors had to furl it and row back to the Welsh coast.
They did it with very bad grace, but they were too much afraid of the
bees to do anything else.

Saint David and the monks were very surprised to see Modomnoc coming
back and looking rather ashamed. He told them what had happened. The
moment the boat had touched land again, the bees had made straight for
their hives and settled down contentedly again. "Wait until tomorrow,"
advised the abbot, "but don't say farewell to the bees again. They will
be over the parting by then."

Next morning, the boat was again in readiness for Modomnoc and this time
he left hurriedly without any fuss of farewell. But when they were about
three miles from the shore, he was dismayed to see again the little
black cloud rising up over the Welsh coast. Everyone recognised the
situation and the sailors turned back to shore immediately.

Once more the shamefaced Modomnoc had to seek out David and tell his
story. "What am I to do?" he pleaded. "I must go home. The bees won't
let me go without them. I can't deprive you of them. They are so useful
to the monastery."

David said, "Modomnoc, I give you the bees. Take them with my blessing.
I am sure they would not thrive without you. Take them. We'll get other
bees later on for the monastery."

The abbot went down to the boat and told the sailors the same story. "If
the bees follow Modomnoc for the third time, take them to Ireland with
him and my blessing." But it took a long time and a great deal of
talking to get the sailors to agree to this. They did not care who had
the bees as long as they weren't in their boat.

The abbot assured the sailors that the bees would give no trouble as
long as Modomnoc was onboard. The sailors asked, if that were so, why
the bees did not obey Modomnoc's command to return to the monastery.
After much back and forth, the sailors were finally persuaded into
starting out again.

For the third time the boat set sail, Modomnoc praying hard that the
bees would have the sense to stay in their pleasant garden rather than
risking their lives at sea. For the third time he saw the little black
cloud rising up in the distance, approaching nearer and nearer until he
saw it was the same swarm of bees again. It settled on the boat once
more. This time it did not turn back. Modomnoc coaxed his faithful
friends into a sheltered corner of the boat, where they remained quietly
throughout the journey, much to the sailors' relief.

When he landed in Ireland, he set up a church at a place called Bremore,
near Balbriggan, in County Dublin, and here he established the bees in a
happy garden just like the one they had in Wales. The place is known to
this day as "the Church of the Beekeeper."

He became a hermit at Tibberaghny in County Kilkenny and some say he was
later consecrated Bishop of Ossory(Benedictines , Curtayne).

Troparion of St Modomnock tone 4
Pomp and splendour held no attraction for thee, O Father Modomnock./ By
leaving the glitter of the world, thou didst freely embrace thy poverty
with the Waterman,/ praying for the salvation of all faithful souls.

Kontakion of St Modomnock tone 7
Retiring from the company of men,/ thou didst serve God in solitude, O
Father Modomnock,/ and thy Father, seeing thy virtue in secret,/
rewarded thee openly./ Therefore we glorify thy name/ and praise and
bless thy righteous memory.