Esh, bonfires

Look where we live! On such a small exiguous territory that thus opens up on width and suddenly turn of, immures and cages in minds and grey cells. Space, room can be terribly limited, compressed: the Jewish soul requires freedom in horizons where the non-believers would suffocate or be tempted by murder.

One of the most striking phenomena of Israeli society today is the way it reflects upon “being” a society. Look at our cities, small villages, agricultural areas, settlements. They are built on the same pattern that allows the securing of a specific system of traditional values that – ultra-Orthodox, pious or secular – needed to be protected from the outside world. Thus, it is right that today’s children in Israeli suffer of various traumas (family, social, cultural, violence, fears/pahadim). Either the youth stay put and do not move. Or they discover the world of the Gentiles, often questioned by the fact that Jews abroad are not freely living and affirming their Jewishness. This is something new.

Israelis that travel abroad are more “rodfey HaShem – God seekers” than they would usually accept to be here. The society is not composed of “ordinary people” as the word is used in sociology. They are “anonymous” because they experienced by birth and Hebrew education that the people exists as a whole and each individual is the talent given to his fellow people. Moguls, tycoons, new rich or middle-class, simple workers and needy are “one” and they faced in their lifetime the price of God’s Oneness and Fire. At the present, we are more like the “perplexed” – a reality on this 60th anniversary. Maybe because dreams lead to other fancies but essentially oblige us to recognize who we are
and bring a light to the others.

On Friday, there will be the great merry feast of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai which falls on the 33rd (LaG) be’Omer (of the computing of the Omer), i.e. the 18th of Iyyar. But it is also the remembrance of the death of Rabbi Akiva’s 24,000 students that either perished in the war with Bar Kochba against the Romans (idolatry toward a false messiah) and/or were involved in such a lack of understanding among each other that it developed into some harsh form of hatred and estrangement. The students of the great rabbi started wandering away from truth and divinity. They despised each others reaching the borders of idolatry and their tongues were ready to murder their own people, under presumption of spiritual truth.

On the other hand, since the second century, the Jews have venerated the author of the Zohar (The Book of Splendor). It is a day of joy in the time between Pesach and Shavuot. Children are often oyfgesher’nt (hair cut) for the first time as R. Shimon was a famous nazir/nazirite (consecrated). A time of eating, drinking wine at the tomb of the Rabbi who was a torch for the enlightenment of the Jewish Mysticism. The Zohar and the Kabbalah are not the ‘cheap’ wide-spread so-called Jewish set of wonder-making and pagan books denied by some denominations. To begin with, it allows the opportunity of understanding the roots of a vast movement connected with the Chassidic groups relating to the cradle of Eastern European Yiddishkayt.

The Eastern Orthodox Church reads the Gospel of the Samaritan woman who discussed very freely with Jesus at Jacob’s well located at Sychar in Samaria (John 4:4-42). Women play a significant role in the Christian Paschal season. Samaritans and Jews would not have spoken to each other at that time, especially men and women. At the present, Ukrainian young women became Samaritan faithful members of the community in order to bringing new blood and reinvigorating it. In this Gospel, the discussion goes about where to worship God. In Jerusalem? in the Temple? or on Mount Garizim (where the Samaritans did celebrate the sacrifice of Pesach)? Jesus recounts her life and does not condemn her because of her past five husbands… She is not married to the sixth one she has now (this maybe an allusion to all levels of divine covenants)… She got intrigued. Indeed, Jesus never condemned any woman. True and so amazing to discover throughout his speech! After his resurrection, women are his normal agreement partners of intuitive intelligence. This should be noted this year on the Mother’s Day…

How peculiar to encounter Bonfires of truth bringing light of hope, remedies, health, comfort in Meron, at the tomb of R. Shimon Bar Yochai. Flames that were withering out of the altar to remind that there is no stranger no citizen in the Edah – the whole community of God, but the perceptible service and respect for any being. Just as we could be there, two days ago, to join the Samaritan feast of Pesach. A whole humanity composed of substantial flames for the living.


Alexander Winogradsky Frenkel

May 21, 2008 – 16 deIyar 5768



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