Dancing Sheep

I have a hobby this time of year.
After all the Meh Haya Lanus of Tisha B’Av.
After all the visuals of Jeremiah head in hand,
the Temple burning,
and hearing Jeremiah’s voice describing the visions that he has seen.
I just want to make Jeremiah smile.

It all started when I taught Isaiah and Jeremiah in high school. I used to have a game I played with my students. It was called “I saw Yeshayahu”-and the goal was to find Isaiah’s words in prayers, in poetry and in pictures. Needless to say, they were everywhere.
But no one wanted to find Jeremiah.
It was then that it became my mission to find Jeremiah and make him smile.

Each year I would imagine the conversation taking place between Jeremiah and Isaiah up in the heavens in the days after Tisha B’Av.
Jeremiah, a bit of soot on his robes, would look up from his reflective pose at Isaiah, the first cousin to kings, still sashaying around in his royal robes.
“Its just not fair,” Jeremiah would say,
“Wasn’t it enough that you foretold the story but didn’t have to witness it?
Wasn’t it enough that your lions and lambs, spears and plowshares are the symbols of better days to come?
For all the fire that burned within in me, for all that I suffered,
Isaiah, you couldn’t let me be the hand on the shoulder to comfort, comfort our people?”

And I would hear Isaiah, respond in kind, tugging gently at Jeremiah’s arm. ”Get up get up my friend, brush off your robes for your light still shines; your song is yet to be sung. Be patient in time your moment will come.”

Yesterday, the time came.
I think I saw Jeremiah.
And I think he was smiling.

He was peeking through on the Zoom I was watching.
I could have sworn that Isaiah was there too peering just over his shoulder.

My niece was getting married in Israel. We were the Aunt, the Uncle, the cousins and the Zeydie who couldn’t be there. The wedding was taking place on the Chattan’s sheep farm in Israel. For us, it was taking place via Zoom on a large screen in a bungalow in the Catskills. The Chuppah was set up in front of a pen with hundreds of sheep.

Then just as the Chattan turned to the Kallah, a girl from the area of Binyamin, with the words, “Harei At Mekudeshet Lee…you are sanctified to me,” the camera panned to a hundred sheep dancing to the prophetic words of Jeremiah “Od Yishama b’Arei Yehudah…”

It was then that Jereremiah turned on his camera and joined us.
I can almost promise, I saw Jeremiah begin to smile.

I saw him turn to Isaiah and cry out “That’s me. That’s my song. That’s my prophecy come to life. Wasn’t it the continuation of my prophecy, Od Yishama B’Arei Yehuda that not only would the joyous voice of bride and groom echo through the mountains of Judah but these very hills… the land of Benjamin, the cities of Judah,would be filled with flocks passing under the hands of the Shepherd lovingly [counting] and being counted.” (Jeremiah:33:10-13).

And then soon after came Jeremiah’s laughter.

For Zeydie, watching from six thousand miles away, like Jeremiah, was a survivor.
He was a hidden child, who had first learned of Israel when his neighbors said “Zhid to Palestina– Jew go to Palestine.” And Zeydie, like Jeremiah, was also a Cohen, who wanted to bless the future.

So just as the dancing started-taking place between the bales of hay,a phone call was made to the wedding.
Boi Kallah, Boi Kallah, Zeydie wants to speak to you.”
And on a small screen, over whatsapp, Zeydie, gave the generations old Brachato his beautiful granddaughter, the new Kallah
a first generation Sabra,who carried the name of her maternal grandmother, a survivor of Auschwitz.
And just as Zeydie said, “May Hashem watch over you and protect you,” I promise, I heard the laughter.

I saw Jeremiah, looking eye to eye at Isaiah, answering his own question.
“I get it now, my friend, you Isaiah are the dreamer.
But me Jeremiah, I am the facts on the ground,
the embodiment of hope.
Minei Kolech MeB’chi
It is my words that not only stop the voice of the survivor from crying
but also turn it into song.
For these are all my children.
V’shavu Banim LGevulam.

And right after the wedding five new sheep were born.

About the Author
Ariella Nadel is a TaNaKh teacher at Farber Hebrew Day School - Yeshivat Akiva in Southfield, Michigan and a longtime community educator. Ariella holds degrees in Judaic Studies and Political Science from Yeshiva University and a Law Degree from the Cardozo School of Law.
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