Bereishit, new words, new times

“Bereishit: new words, new times”

“Acharei hachagimאחרי החגים”: “when the feasts are over” is a popular saying and a refreshing song full of true spleen and a touch of shmaltz, sort of mixed excessive emotional mush combined with some banality. The other folk’s best is then “geshem-גשם/rain”, the yearly hit that “will enable us to continue to march on the way”… It is quite amusing how Israeli society that may be crafty suddenly falls into a state of pathetic need to be cuddled and pampered. A touch of childlike desires to be overprotected. Indeed, Fall is a time of transition. A bit red as some of our hair cuts of the Automnal leaves: “‘s fal’n di bleterס’פאלן די בלעטער – leaves are falling” is also an after world war II hit firstly sung by Yves Montand in French, then in Yiddish… Yossi Banai made it in Hebrew… “ListopadЛистопад” means “November” in Ukrainian and Polish and means “leaf fall”. The approaching month of Marcheshvanמר חשון is thus a time of “sweeping away old stuff” and regular fasting days paving the way for the clarity of Kislevכסלו and the Feast of the Lights (Chanukkahחנוכה).

It is very trendy to feel down. Of course, e.g. we live in a society that is approximately contented. This was shown in most of the recent pol.l The Israelis are definitely optimistic compared to the way they are looked at from abroad as living in a stand of threat and dead-end situation. But with regards to privacy, we  respond with constant equanimity that is on the verge of puzzling perplexity.

Just try the poll. It is very forward to play with insightful polls. Just ask: “How are you doing?” to some ordinary anonymous Israel inhabitants. Whatever tongue, the respond is: “Good – beseder – tayeb/kwayes (Arabic version = /to:yeb/ in Jerusalem) – sheyn”. The Russian-speaking inmates would tend to say “normal’noнормально (normal = seemingly good)” but if you continue the poll, Russian will turn to “bolee li meneeболее ли менее = more or less (well), cf. “chetzi-chetziחצי חצי – fifty-firty“. The same happens in English, Yinglish, Arabic. There is a Hebrew, Greek and Russian/all-Slavic hip-hop hit:”Baruch HaShemברוך ה’ יום יום (yom-yom: day-to-day)! = Gr. Doksa tou Theou!Δόξα του θεου = Slava Tebe, Gospodi-Слава Тебе, Господи! (glory to You, Lord – interfaith version)”.

It does not mean that things are going well at all. This is the plain answer of plain people who squelch spontaneous emotion to maximum private neutrality. We are kinds of firewalls. The problem is that it may kill because human beings are born to talk and need to speak out what they feel, from their insides to their brain and heart.

It is exact that social groups need having joyful relaxing times; once New Year 5772 started up, it seems the countdown switched on and we may scrap the plans and continue to go around without finding the true way-out. To be honest, what can be new? Fashion? we use 5th to 18th century clothes and hats to makes a distinction between our social and religious groups. Modern chardalחרד’ל (modern ultra-Orthodox, maybe “spicy” as mustard/chardal-חרדל can be tasty) women covers and hats were created in Western Europe around 1920 and circulated to the America before showing up here again lately. Some track back to European and Middle-East, Oriental Middle Age.

The planet-wide jeans (even with holes and stigmas) appeared in Genova (= /jeans/), Italy, just before Christopher Colombus left for some Indian “not precised zone”.

Things are new everyday though we grow old at the same time. So is it bad or good to march in the development of a New Year? Blasé apathetic characters would say – as for the daily “alright” – that Koheletקהלת, read at Sukkot is correct: “What has been, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun. Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!” has already existed (in the ages that) preceded us.”(Kohelet 1:9-10).

This refers to the immensity, the width, depth, breadth, length and thus plenitude of God in His Written and Oral Law. Everything is present in the Talmud, i.e. not only morals, but materials and instruments that progressively seem to be created in our culture: e.g. micro-wavers, computers, fashion, nuclear skills or freezers… The problem is how to get to newness and its encoding.

Treaty Yevamot 62b states that God has a huge reserve of all the souls that have to be hosted in the bodies that show in the development of the human generations. As for the Christians: there is a great similarity between the Oral Law and what the Christian world receives through the Holy Spirit.

Thus, when Jews remove the Talmud studies as the Karaites (the Samaritans did the same as the Sadducees and the more recent Dönmeh’s), they stop to truly believe in the World-to-Come. When the Christians cancel or lower the action of the Spirit, they ritualize and reduce the intensity of their faith and reject the resurrection.

Newness is inscribed in the soul of the Semitic speech. In Hebrew, two past tenses seven (!) in Arabic) that seem to speak about what already was and indeed focus on the future. Active and passive mix together but all comes from God in the verbal forms. Monotheistic speech is prophetic, opens the way to any event or creation. “Asher asah la’asotאשר עשה לעשות – that (God) has been making in order to (continue the action of) being creating” (Genesis 2:3). The Gospel shows the same: “The Father and I (Jesus) are always at workό πατηρ μου εως αρτι εργαζεται καγω εργαζομαι”(John 5:17).

In Hebrew “davarדבר” is both “word, speech and object”. We take a great responsibility in renewing the world with words of beauty and creativity. We are often hurt or injured and human speech can be terribly cruel. There is something we have in Hebrew: we always speak of the future. We are obsessed by newness. God was also deceived when he looked at His creation and decided to wipe it out (Genesis 6:5-8). Thus, since we are survivors, we cannot even think of stopping the move toward future, betterment and being real “mentchenמענטשען”, humans with a tender and good heart.

In the Gospel it is said:“You, brood of vipers, how can you say good things when you are evil? For from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. I (Jesus) tell you, on the day of judgment, people will render an account of every careless word they speak. By your words you will be acquitted and by your word you will be condemned” (Matthew 13:34-37).

It may sound a bit tough. But we are blessing-beggars… So if, in the end, we get a lot of flooding rain that renews the soil and the land, it means that we also can plant new good ideas, opinions, wit and insights when our mouth speaks heartfully. On air at the present: Lord full of mercy and tenderness, clean up our Word system and turn over a new leaf…

Av Aleksandr (Winogradsky Frenkel)

On October 16, 1978, Karol Wojtyla was elected bishop of Rome and Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, 34 years ago.

My grand-mother (mother of my mother) Bracha bat Chasidברכה בת חסיד was born in Cherson on October 16, 1878…!She was murdered in Majdanek in 1943

די מאמע פון מעען מאמע ברכה בת חסיד איז געבוירן גווארן אין כערסאןכרסון שבאוקראינה ביום י”ט דתשרי תרל”ט און געהרגנט געווארן אין מאידאנעק אין 1943


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