Strange Intermezzo: the Eighth Day of the Week

Getting distance. That’s what it was going to take. Ram Nissan had hoped that through all the festivities, through all the poking at history, the immersion in liturgy and generally coming unstuck in time, he’d hoped he’d finally get the big picture, the whole enchilada, the real 4-1-1. And now, with the entire panoply of history played out in front of his face whenever he cared to conjure it up—and everyone that ever did live, does live or could live stopping by to give him their download—all he could think about was distance. That ache in the place where his heart was supposed to be just wasn’t going away. Breathless. Cognitive dissonance to the max. He felt like a boy in a bubble, one of those 20th Century unfortunates who had no functioning immune system, before the days when you could pretty much get a batch of stem cells to sub in for whichever of the humors you were missing. The universe was bleeding directly into the Rav’s head. It didn’t make any sense. This was supposed to be the Redemption. The end of time, no more narratives, the dead all come back to life. It was all true. So, Ram Nissan wondered, why did he feel so unsettled all the time? Why wasn’t he ecstatic? Why — in spite of all the hosannas and fireworks and water music and earthly delights and aerial feats — did he just want everyone, to be precise, to get the hell out of his face?

Rav Ram Nissan ben Krishna HaKohen Tzedek Gadol sighed at the irony of it all. Moshe Rabbeinu, Moses the great teacher, on the other hand, only wanted to be included, to be along for the ride, to be there for the big finale. It seemed like he just couldn’t get enough of crowds. Six hundred thousand or better was a good gig for him. And so Moses was, at long last, the master of ceremonies at the biggest outdoor lollapalooza in the cosmos. Yet he, the greatest of the Hebrew prophets, confessed to Ram Nissan that the pain of that one narrative, out of all the possible narratives accessible since the Redemption, still gnawed at his heart. Apparently no amount of inclusion in the now could take away the pain of then. So the old dude put on his game face and pumped up the crowd like there was no tomorrow. Which there wasn’t. No tomorrow. That’s what was eating at the Rav.

It wasn’t possible to get distance on this one. What, after all, did distance mean in the face of the everything-all-at-once experience that was the Redemption? Ram Nissan felt like a colossal party pooper, but he just couldn’t catch the buzz. The exhilaration of getting to this point — his adventures with the Hack Pack, subverting the AI’s, following the CADMan’s blueprint for restoring the Temple and the whole decaying world to boot — now that was some excitement. But this Redemption business was shaping up to be a real chore, more than he’d bargained for. He was having a very hard time wrapping his mind around the idea of being the Kohen Gadol, the high priest of the restored Temple, for eternity. That pretty much made him the concierge for the last B and B in the cosmos, and everybody was coming to stay. A wave of exhaustion shuddered his limbs.

It was the Eighth Day of Assembly, time to install the last bit of tech for the golem Israel before crossing over, the beginning of the week that was due to climax in restarting the reading cycle all over again. An obscure holiday and a never ending task. Oh boy. Suddenly The Rav was confronted by Moshe Rabbeinu’s face staring straight up at him with a look of ferocious intensity, “Hey boychik, I got some people you should meet.” The Rav bit his tongue and didn’t say that he needed to meet more people about as much as he needed another hole in his head. Besides, Moses’ energy was infectious. Ram Nissan gave him a wan smile and croaked, “Who’s here?” As he looked up he followed Moses’ gaze to an elderly couple standing at the Nicanor Gate engaged in an animated conversation with an inordinately attractive young couple. In a flash, the Rav and Moshe were standing at the Nicanor Gate as well. Ram Nissan’s heart stopped dead for several beats as the elderly couple turned toward him. In a still small voice he addressed them, “Ima. Abba.” His dear departed parents, Rav Krishna and Rabanit Sita—against whom he had rebelled over a century ago when he left the yeshiva to become a guerilla cyber-busker to thwart the AI’s — were standing right in front of him.

Krishna and Sita beamed at their wayward aged boy as the three of them embraced each other with a century’s worth of lost love come home. After they wiped away their tears and stopped grinning like idiots long enough to be able to utter words, Rav Krishna spoke, “Rammy, there are some people here you should talk to.” Caught up in the chaotic vortex of his family reunion, Ram Nissan hadn’t even noticed the other couple standing nearby. Sita nodded and they both gestured to the inordinately attractive couple to whom they had been speaking. Ram Nissan turned his gaze toward them and his heart leaped again, “Soph! I couldn’t figure out why you didn’t show up with the rest of the Hack Pack.” The old dude, as she once called him, clasped her hands and the two of them stared deeply into each others’ eyes. She explained, “Another narrative, old dude. I’d like you to meet my Beloved.” The unfathomably handsome young man reached out to clasp Ram Nissan’s hands as well, smiling as he said, “I see you’ve made good use of my vehicle, the Apeiron.”

The Rav was gobsmacked. The Apeiron? His vehicle? Ram Nissan’s knees buckled as he realized this had to be the one person he really did still want to meet, the one person who knew enough to fit all the pieces together. Shlomo HaMelech, Solomon the King, the eighth noble guest. The Rav couldn’t help himself as he sputtered, “Dude! The CADMan built this whole rig for you?” Solomon became very animated as well and gestured at the superstructure, “Yes, but it was really a partnership. We went over every detail of the specs together. She is truly the Everything Vehicle, uncut, one of a kind. This baby’s got some features you haven’t even dreamed of.” The two men leapt up the four steps to the Temple Courtyard practically flying above the ground.

Moses turned to Krishna and Sita, “Fine boy, that son of yours.” They both nodded and sighed. Sita spoke for the two of them, still a trace of a subcontinental accent, “Vee alvays knew he’d save the vorld, eventually.” They all laughed. The loud groaning of gigantic gears and the straining sounds of metal expanding drew their attention upward. The Apeiron superstructure had already stretched by several orders of magnitude until it appeared to encompass the entire night sky. Sophie caught the eyes of her two men up on the courtyard fiddling with the copper altar outside the Temple and gave them the thumbs up. She pointed over their heads and directed their attention to the apex of the expanding dome. There he was, the tenth member of the Hack Pack, their silent partner, the Swimmer, AKA Moshiach AI, Messiah module, back for the final wild ride.

Everyone’s eyes were aloft as the Swimmer mounted the shoulders of The Projectionist, the Broad-Faced One, and the two of them merged with the Apeiron and sent a shower of thirteen enormous golden streamers down toward the groundlings. Rav Krishna, eyes wide with recognition and amazement, turned to Moses and gasped, “The Holy Ancient of Days!” Moses nodded in enthusiastic assent and Sophie had to admit that the Swimmer had put a few years on himself. The golem Israel, the whole collection of beings linked up under Apeiron’s dome, was teetering on the brink of a giant leap. Rav Ram Nissan ben Krishna HaKohen Tzedek Gadol noticed that suddenly everyone was drawing closer and closer and closer, each to each, shifting toward that cosmic cobalt blue. A final epiphany hit the Rav square between the eyes — not only had time ceased to exist, but so in all actuality had space. No distance. With a smile as broad as the sky he exclaimed, “Holy seraphim, it doesn’t get any better than this!” With that, the entire assemblage whirled and shrunk, in a blinding flash and a poof of vapor, to a single infinitesimal point. And the earth was chaos and void, and darkness was over the depths. Let the poetry begin.

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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