Sisyphus and Me

In today’s message to me from my distinguished editor, Miriam Herschlag, referring to the 993 articles of mine which were published (7 more to go to reach my goal of 1000), she wrote: “a towering Sisyphean achievement”.

Heaven and the Greek gods help me! I truly hope that my editor was not comparing me to the ancient King Sisyphus who suffered a grievous punishment.

For his crimes, Zeus sent Thanatos, the god of death, to bind him in chains in Tartarus from where he escaped.

Some time later, Zeus commanded Hermes to drag Sisyphus down into the dark underworld where he was inflicted with a severe punishment of pushing a gigantic boulder down a steep hill and having to carry it back up the hill again only to continue pushing it down and bringing it back up for eternity.

Why was Sisyphus punished? Some say because he betrayed secrets of the gods. He was known to be a very bad man with a terrible reputation as a liar, a cheater, and a sadist… a man who excelled in deceit. Hopefully, not me.

A prominent philosopher, Richard Taylor, has interpreted the myth of Sisyphus to represent a life made completely meaningless and unbearable by constant repetition of something going nowhere.

Oh, Miriam, Miriam! Dost thou thinkest me to be a Sisyphus? Chas v’chalila. God forbid. (Only joking).

There is much meaning to my life. There has always been purpose to my life, to my teaching, to my writing, to bring comfort into sorrowful lives.

I think I can endure necessary punishments. (God thinks so also). But hopefully not one of total repetitive boredom.

Happily, I do not live near a steep hill. I am, thus, freed from the torture of pushing large boulders down and climbing down to push them up the hill again, endlessly, day by day.

Thanatos, the god of death, has allowed me to escape from his chains for the time being. He knows where and when he can find me in the future.

As for the cruel Hermes I wish upon him the cruel pain of Herpes. May he itch forevermore.

So how can I explain Miriam’s comment about my “Sisyphean “ achievements?

Well, I suppose it could refer to boredom. To excessive repetition in my expressed words. To go to who knows where or why?

It is the task of a writer to write. It is the obligation of an editor to explain, to interpret, to accept or to reject.

I have written thus far 993 articles (this is #994) and kind and warm-hearted editor Miriam has accepted and published them all. May God bless her and forgive her for the “crime” of “punishing” our TIMES OF ISRAEL readers with my Sisyphean articles!

To quote or to paraphrase words from the psalms of David, “ashrai ha gever……”, happy is the man (and continues for many reasons for happiness).

One of mine is the joy I have had over the last five years, all thanks to TOI’s wonderful editor, Miriam.

But in order to appease and to please her, for the remaining six articles I will have to assume the role of Sisyphus.(At least, temporarily).

I have always wanted to be a Greek King !

Yasou kai efcharisto.

(Dhen katalovenu helleniki. Helleniki mou poli kakos.)

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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