On the Launching Pad: V’Zot HaBerachah

It was that time again, on the eternally recurring clock of the endless Sabbath. Ram Nissan expected the usual crowd to assemble presently in the Women’s Court on the Temple Mount. Since the Redemption, Rav Ram Nissan’s duties as the last and eternal high priest of the Temple entailed constant readiness for any ritual business at hand. Sukkot, the Feast of Booths was now. And the spaceship Apeiron made one helluva sukkah. Well, he thought of it as a spaceship, inasmuch as it had transported him and the rest of the crew of hackers from the shores of Leviathan across the Reed Sea Wadi, through the Sinai Wilderness and deposited them right at the doorstep of the windswept dunes upon which they were to reconstruct the ancient Temple and restore the world. A wild ride. The sixty repurposed killerBots were making quick work of the Apeiron’s superstructure. They had already expanded it to encompass the entire Women’s Court and were scrambling through the rigging hanging schach, the required vegetative matter used for the roof that was not a roof. In this case they had scavenged an entire grove’s worth of beautiful palm fronds that lay strewn in piles in the surrounding oases. As per orders, they left the Eastern facing wall largely unobstructed, turning the semicircular stairs at the back of the court into a perfect amphitheater for the evening’s esteemed guests. The groundlings would fill in the rest. Moses was running around like a kid in a candy shop. When Ram Nissan caught up with him he was practically giggling with delight, “Hoo boy, what I wouldn’t have given for one of these when we were shlepping through the wilderness! It amazes me how much you can expand this thing. And those shtarkers, those gibborim, those muscle dudes—what do you call ‘em?” The Rav suppressed a smile at his teacher’s enthusiasm, “killerBots. There’s 60 of them, but they normally reincorporate themselves into the structure when their work is done, which it nearly is now.” The Rav and the prophet both stared up at the glorious superstructure with pride and wonderment. The guests were about to arrive.

The guest list varied among all the Sukkot celebrations possible in the multiple worlds encoded in the holoFlame outside the Temple doors, so Ram Nissan knew it was a roll of the dice who was going to show up at any given iteration. This time however, he and Moshe were putting in the fix. They both stood in front of the holoFlame, unaided by the visualizing power of the holoShawl, and gave it everything they had. Their palms faced the 50 foot column of holoFlame, the two men stared with intense concentration and held in mind the dear ones they hoped to see. Suddenly a stately elder with beard and sandals emerges from the flame walking straight into Moshe’s arms as the prophet exclaimed, “Avraham Avinu, the soul of kindness! You see who it is, Ram Nissan? Abraham our father! Outstanding!” The Rav responds, ecstatic as well, but not wanting to lose concentration yet, “Stay focused, Moshe! There are more guests coming!” The love fest begins. In rapid succession comes Yitzhak the mighty and Yaakov the merciful and Aharon HaKohen the humble, Yosef Hatzadik the founder and David HaMelech, sovereignty incarnate. A slightly weird thing happened as Moshe Rabbeinu, the great seer, walked out, just before his brother Aharon, to greet himself, Moshe Rabbeinu! They both took it in stride, mirrors within mirrors. By this point a channel opens in the midst of the inferno and a virtual torrent of guests begins pouring in. Ram Nissan almost loses it altogether as the entire Hack Pack arrives enbloc. There were the twins, Lev and Ari, the boisterous heart and strength of Beta Israel, the Ethiopian contingent. Once again the Rav is impressed by the echoes of Avraham and Yitzhak he could see in these two noble souls as they ran to embrace him. Right behind, always the wrangler of the twins, is Elisheva Mankiller, proud descendent of American conversos, the harmonizer, every bit the inheritor of Yaakov. Then comes Leonardo and his baby sister Flora, the elegant Milanese party, the distant seer and the pattern maker, bearing vibrations of Moshe himself and brother Aharon. Out tumbles Phineas Han, AKA Pink, martial artist, cyber sleuth extraordinaire and founder of the Hack Pack, an energetic cousin to Yosef Hatzadik. Last, but by no means least, out sashays Olympia Corazon, dark princess of a Sephardi kabbalist lineage, the female counterpart to David HaMelech. The whole crew surrounds the Rav, and the twins lead them in a manic chorus of “Raise Up Your Heads, O You Gates!” as they all pogo up and down like mad hassids. The whole crazy story comes rushing back to the Rav.

As the Apeiron’s ample structure fills with an ever increasing multitude of guests, Ram Nissan suddenly feels a wave of emptiness wash over him. Something is missing. Then he realizes, Sophia and the Swimmer have not arrived. How could he not notice the absence of his shipmates at the helm of their vessel on the long journey to the Redemption. But there it was, a big gaping hole in the festivities. He suspects that Pink and Nard, as everyone calls Leonardo, notice the MIA’s as well, but a conspiracy of silence falls upon them as they all allow themselves to be swept up in the festivities of the evening. Overhead an armada of roiling thunder clouds threatens to drown them all in its pent up deluge. Then Moshe takes over. He raises his staff to the sky, with a wink at Ram Nissan. The clouds flash and a colossal lightning bolt leaps from the clouds and slams smack into the enormous copper altar beneath the holoFlame. The entire Temple Mount shudders as all the guests run to their seats in the Women’s Courtyard. Amidst the thunder roar and lightning crack, there is heard the turning of mighty gears and the groaning of gargantuan axles. The entire Temple Mount begins to swivel slowly counterclockwise and does not come to rest until it has turned 45 degrees to face due north. A frisson of apprehension and delight ripple through the crowd. What mystery was here? Then another roar of thunder and the hidden clockwork of the apocalypse cranks up again. This time the Temple Mount simultaneously rises slowly into the air and tilts forward, hinged just to the rear of The Women’s Court which swings out like the seat on a behemoth ferris wheel, giving the crowd a clear view of all that lay to the North. They all scream in mock terror, as many of them had been here before, though the newbies are only slightly reassured by the insane smiles of delight plastered on their seatmates’ faces. With a nod from Moshe, Ram Nissan fires up the altar, which now is directly over the crowd’s heads pointing outward to the North. Suddenly a cyclone of holoFlame shoots from the copper altar, striking its target 30 miles to the north, Mounts Gerizim and Ebal, pulling them in like a giant tractor beam until they are directly in front of the Temple Mount. The crowd lets out a collective ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ as a bank of clouds rolls down the mountains and transforms Gerizim and Ebal into a giant screen.

[Grainy black and white images from history flicker across the screen. The crowd murmurs in anticipation.]

RAM NISSAN(voice over): Ladies and Gentlemen, people of all walks of life and historical epochs, welcome to the Sukkah Show That Never Ends! We are fast closing in upon the final chapter of the Eternal Sabbath Story. Those of you who have caught this act before will remember, now in the era of the Redemption time has ceased to exist as you once knew it. Now it flows in streams and eddies, meandering forward and back, spreading out into vast deltas and breaking loose in great cataracts.

[The crowd noise swells to a low crescendo and recedes.]

Those of you who are here tonight have chosen this moment out of time, or it has chosen you, to savor, to roll around the palate of your mind and taste its bounty as it bursts inside every cell of your body.

[A smattering of whistles and shouts of “Bravo!”]

As you may or may not know, the golem Israel stands at the precipice of a new reality, ready for launching. Thus far our able crew has installed each of the seven body-based energy centers as well as the two intellective centers associated with both hemispheres of the brain. In addition, through the adroit tutoring of Moses the great teacher, every sinew has been tuned to its optimal tension according to the principles of dynamic opposites. This humming cradle of subtly woven inhibitory fibers is waiting to receive its payload, the real meat and bones of it. So without further ado, I give you our true master, on the eve of his departure to another reality, to introduce the members of Team Golem Israel, Moshe Rabbeinu!

[Uproarious applause, whistles, catcalls, hoots, hollers and ululations, slowly subsides.]

MOSES(voice over): Thank you, Rav Ram Nissan, for setting the stage for what I know will be an unforgettable experience. Most of you know the story. After 40 years of wandering, and more than a few false starts, we’re finally ready to play in the big leagues. These boys are pumped. Twelve finer principle players you’ll never find. Each one embodies a path, a way, a leitmotif if you will, waiting to add its voice to the symphony that is this creature we have created. So, when I introduce them, I want you all to blow the roof off this sukkah with every ounce of huzzah you’ve got in you. Are you ready?

[The crowd roars in all 70 major languages of the planet. Strings of words ascend like so many streamers caught in a cosmic updraft. As they reach the pulsing holoFlame each string of words is nested in the last, as a spiral of concentric bands of words begins to curl about the flame. Slowly, slowly, the underside of an enormous glittering crown of words takes shape, expands, and as it whirls faster and faster its substance compresses to an unfathomable density. A broad massive object spinning in space, it appears to smile down on the assembled humans, wisps of golden thread occasionally achieving escape velocity.]

RAM NISSAN(covering the microphone, turns to Moshe): Can you believe it?!

MOSES(also covering the microphone): Boychik, you better believe it. This is it, the Broad Face, or maybe you’d say Interface, or better ‘The Projectionist!’, distributing the quantum packets of energy destined for every connection the golem Israel needs to wire itself up. The lower aspect of the suprarational tenth energy center is descending into place. This is where we introduce the twelve lineages, the major trunk lines and transformers that shlep the energy quanta, each in its own peculiar way. The whole hookup is sensational! Ok, so listen, I’m about to charge these bad boys. Get ready.

MOSES(uncovers the microphone): People of the world! I give you The Sons of Yaakov!

[The crowd goes wild, chanting over and over again, “Yaakov, Yaakov, Yaakov! “ One by one the players appear on screen as Moses charges them.]

MOSES(voice over): First up let’s hear it for our original number one player, Reuben the elder. Yes, he’s had a rough season, so we’re keeping him in reserve over on the slippery slopes of Mount Ebal. [Reuben dissipates into thousands of sparks over the mountainside.] Next, everyone’s heart throb, Judah father of kings! [After a regal bow, he explodes into a cloud of sparks over Gerizim.] Wait a minute, here’s one who almost slipped away, another brother from the same mother, Shimon! [Shimon pulls his hat down over his face and turns to go. Small shower of sparks flies to Mount Gerizim.] He’s a good boy folks, just a tad aggressive at times. He’ll be joining up with Judah for now protecting the heart of the team. And heeeere’s Levi! Guardian of the Urim m’Tummim, he and his line of priests will be keeping the holy burners fired up. [Three large blasts of sparks on Gerizim.] And now for two brothers from another mother. First is little Benjy keeping the Temple atmosphere clean and bright; then Joseph the Ox who brought us into the belly of the beast and back! [Two nested swirls of sparks settle over Gerizim.] Back to Leah’s last two kids, Zebulon the sailor and Issachar the scholar, the transporter and the guardian of treasure, separated only by an ocean at all times! [Twin Roman candles shower sparks down, one on Ebal and one on Gerizim.] The last four brothers are the Slippery Slope Squad, spawn of the concubines. The two young lions, Gad the avenger and Dan the judge, guard and protect the whole bunch. Gad, the wiley one, knows the circuitous path…..[Sotto voce.]…that leads to my grave. [Oohs and aahs from the crowd.] Amazing kids! [Cannon volleys on Ebal.] Finally, Naftali and Asher are the procurers, retrieving the bounty of the sea and the land, to keep all the brothers well provisioned. [A blanket of sparks crackles over the surface of Ebal.]

MOSES(covering the microphone): OK, Rav, time for The Projectionist to crank it up. You ready?

[Ram Nissan nods and the two men sit in silence for what seems like an eternity, joining their focused intention with that of The Broad-Faced One. A monstrous pulse of holoFlame convulses out from the copper altar and crashes into the screen with a deafening roar. The crowd is momentarily stunned into silence. There, before them all, dances the CADMan in his ring of fire, shuckling and jiving in his own weird way.]

MOSES: And now, for the battle royale everyone’s been waiting for, Adam CADMan, the designer and the design of all that we experience, will give us a taste of…..Armageddon!!!

[The CADMan gestures for the crowd to look closely as the image on the screen zooms in on the particular bundle of his sinews that encodes the days of this very week in all of recorded history.]

MOSES(Winks at Ram Nissan and continues exhorting the crowd.): This very week in all of history unzips for you here and now, as layer after layer of narrative spins out before your eyes, a newsreel unstuck in time.

[A swirl of psychedelic colors and the screen suddenly explodes in a rapidfire volley of narratives. Pompey’s murder, the gunning down of 30,000 Jews in Kiev by Himmler’ death squads, the first American dies in Vietnam as Saigon falls to the French. The Lehman Brothers’ catastrophe sparks the largest single-day point loss in Wall Street history. Richard II is deposed, a military coup ends the U.A.R., Juan Peron is re-elected President of Argentina, and eight Chicago White Sox players are charged with fixing the 1919 World Series. Bessie Smith dies in a car crash in Mississippi, Hurricane Rita wreaks havoc in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Warren Commission concludes that Oswald was the lone gunman. Abraham Lincoln suspends the writ of habeas corpus, the American Navy under John Paul Jones captures the Serapis, and the last Christian Crusade ends in disaster at the hands of the Ottomans. Thunder and lightning light up the skies over Ebal and Gerizim. William the Conqueror’s army slams its boots down on England’s shores, Mein Kampf is published in the US, and Eisenhower sends troops into Little Rock, Arkansas, to protect black school students. The Chicago Eight go on trial, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union divvy up Poland, and a massive tidal wave hits Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga. The crowd in the Women’s Court is craning its necks and swiveling its heads back and forth to catch all the action. Eisenhower talks to Kruschev, Nixon debates Kennedy, Hitler meets with Mussolini, Rabin and Arafat sign the Oslo Accords. A woman is arrested for smoking a cigarette on Fifth Avenue and scientists warn that aerosol sprays will cause ozone depletion. Scotland Yard and The Society of Jesus are both formed.

The crowd begins to chant, “Yaakov! Yaakov! Yaakov!” The sweet strain of harmony is heard over the din as the Jews in revolutionary France are emancipated, the US Congress creates an army and a court system, and the Federal Trade Commission is established. General Motors gives its workers a 40 hour week, The US War Labor Board orders equal pay for women, and the UN Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is signed by 71 nations. The crowd in the amphitheater cheers. A baleful counterpoint theme as the US Senate interrogates Judge Kavanaugh and a sonic cannon is used in the US for the first time to disperse protesters at the Pittsburgh G20 summit. The crowd boos, but The Projectionist is winding up for the grand finale. Chris Columbus departs Cadiz for voyage number two, Balboa discovers the Pacific Ocean and Francis Drake makes landfall after circumnavigating the globe for 33-months aboard the Golden Hind. Lewis and Clark return to St.Louis, the Panama Canal opens for business, and Explorer VI takes the first video pictures of Earth. The Chinese walk in space, Elon Musk launches Space-X, and the Soviets complete the first unmanned trip to the moon. The crowd is rumbling with excitement. The first transatlantic telephone cable system cranks up. The crowd screams, “Hurray!” Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin. The guests yell, “Bravissimo!” And the real showstopper,  Bob Dylan makes his New York singing debut. The assembled multitudes erupt into an ecstatic chorus of “I’ll Fly Away.” The pictures fade as the singing grows quieter. The two mountains roll away and the holoFlame retracts its beam. The Temple mount slowly rights itself, sinks back to ground level and turns to face East once again as the colossal gears and axles grind to a halt. The crowd mills about under the sukkah and a gentle drizzle settles over the festivities.]

Ram Nissan turns to Moses with a peaceful smile, “You know, it never really hit me before, but it’s so clear now. The whole expanse of human history IS the war with Gog and Magog. All the struggles, all the pain, all the venality. And the triumph, too. The greatest show on earth 24 hours every day of eternity, or rather the eternity of every day. Moses lifts a finger to catch a droplet from one of the streams of drizzle and brings it just in front of the Rav’s eyes. As the Rav peers at Moshe’s fingertip he sees a little shining silver letter aleph. He and Moshe both beam at each other as they join the crowd milling about under the silvery strings of letters silently streaming to the ground. And as they hit, vapor. That’s when the Rav notices that the Apeiron’s structure, and in fact the entire Temple Mount, is growing indistinct around the edges, a fine halo of vapor enveloping everything. The words of the great trope of the ineffable subtlety of all existence, Ecclesiastes, the Assembler, sing in Ram Nissan’s ears, “Vapor of vapors, said the Assembler, vapor of vapors, all is vapor.”


About the Author
Michael Diamond’s day job is as a psychiatrist and doctor of medical qigong in the Washington, DC area. He has published occasional verse, fiction and translation in Andrei Codrescu’s journal, The Exquisite Corpse; in the journal Shirim courtesy of Dryad Press; in the online journal for Akashic Press; and in The Journal of the American Medical Association. He lives in the suburbs with his wife, an artist and illuminator of Hebrew manuscripts, their dog, one cat, a cockatiel named Peaches and a tank of hyperactive fish. He has had a strong interest in Torah since first exposed to traditional stories as a child. Over the course of his life he has run the gamut of spiritual exploration of many world traditions of meditation and mythology. For the last several decades he has landed squarely in the traditional Jewish world. His writing is informed by all of this experience, by his curiosity about today's world and by his desire to mine the Jewish experience for its hidden and revealed wisdom. Torah Obscura, as in camera obscura, from Latin, meaning "dark room", also referred to as pinhole image, the optical phenomenon that occurs when an image of a scene at the other side of a screen is projected through a small hole in that screen into the chamber provided. A glimpse of an otherwise invisible world afforded by a small aperture for light. All materials herein copyright © 2018 Michael S. Diamond. All rights reserved.
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