Stephen Berer
Stephen Berer
the Eternal Jew's biographer

The Eternal Jew’s Tale, #10, Arrived in Sura

Elijah's daughter, my Naomi. (Modified and colorized image from the public domain book, Picturesque Egypt, published 1878, owned by the author.)
Elijah's daughter, my Naomi. (Modified and colorized image from the public domain book, Picturesque Egypt, published 1878, owned by the author.)

In this scene the Eternal Jew meets Elijah in the street.

The Eternal Jew’s Tale
Fourth Era, Part 3. ~ 220 CE

From behind, a hand took my arm and I heard,
“Friend, come with me.”
I turned. The Prophet Elijah stares at me, the obsidian fire of his eyes lighting the caverns gouged in my soul.

“You must be a visitor here.”
And me, “I am what I must be.”
And him, “From the Eretz* by the cut of your cloth, the dust in your beard, your weary eyes. Join me in my house of prayer and help us lift our heavy soul above this earthy rung. Your voice will aid us pull the yoke of the Lor, to fold these fields with godly seed. By then the lapis of the sky will be flecked with gold and we can descend through these corridors down to my house to bless and eat and sing and bless. But first, go quick. The bathhouse will close.”
* Hebrew for ‘land’; ‘the Eretz’: Israel

Ahold of my arm, he hustled me on to a bath and mikvah. Ahh, clean and pure.

The clouds were now streaked in madder and gold as we walked through the gates, the tablets of law, into a room that looked like the inner court of our temple that once stood in Jerusalem. Wondrous beautiful and full of awe, transportin’ us from here to the Throne of God. Wood paneled walls finely carved with bended palms and sheaves of wheat, and in their midst, angels walked.

Small, this house of prayer, but packed with men and women. Everyone but me, it seemed, was dressed in white. The men in linen pants and shirts and tallitot* with their blue tzitzit.** The women wore skirts and pants and embroidered blouses, gauzy shawls, and, oh, their hair in braids and bows all twistin’ around their heads like crowns.
* prayer shawls; ** long blue fringes

Bustle and tussle and chattery din, then a sudden silence sweeps like a wind across the room. The rav ascends a center dais, and psalms begin. For each of the days of the Lor’s creating, words of Torah sorrowful chanted. And then a joyous psalm of Shabbat. As if a breeze over swayin’ wheat, everyone sways in the notes of this chant. Then we march out to stand in the street, and softly sing,
“Enter, oh Lor, and come to us, your waiting bride.”

I remember that much of what we done to welcome Shabbat in that House of the Lor. Strange, that no one else was out on the street, like us, to summon the groom.

Just like Elijah said, as we emerged from the House of Prayer, lustrous rays of starlight speckled the ultramarine sky above, and it seemed our path to Elijah’s house was up there with them wandery ones. In those dim streets the air was full of the murmur and shuffle of that angel crowd leavin’ the House of the Lor. And two of them angels joined us with affectionate words. So! Elijah has a wife and girl child. Torah never mentions a hint of them.

Fourth Era, Part 4.

Family life with a prophet of God! What has our Torah told us of that? You can probably wrap it in a score of verses. A faint picture of Sarah’s tent and Abe doin’ what his Sarah tells him. Rivkah and Yitzkhak, they liked different sons, and probably their tents rippled and bulged with plenty of shoutin’ and stompin’ of feet, but Torah disregards them arguments. Now Jacob’s tents — the whisperin’ there and the yellin’ and fightin’ we can almost hear. His favorites, Rachael and Yossi, her son. The wives snipin’ and the boys all riled up, like the time they slaughtered Khamor* and his gang. Khamor, that donkey! What did he expect? But them boys and their wives? Nary a word.
* Berraysheet/Genesis 34; Khamor means donkey in Hebrew

And what of the greatest prophet of all, Moshe? We hear Tzeporah shout,
“You are a groom of blood to me!”
Her, with one hand holdin’ a knife, and a bloody foreskin in the other. Did she really circumcise someone there? Not a word before nor any after to explain these words, nor any other describin’ Moshe’s personal life, nor a single tale of his looks, his clothes, his friends, his tent. Did he kiss his boys when they woke in the morning? Did he wake up depressed? Could he sleep at night?

There I go again! Driftin’ along on the winds and waves of my thoughts, but I ain’t walked you through the door into Elijah’s living room. He didn’t have no lock on his door. Push it easy and walk right in. A room to cook; a room to sit; a room to sleep; and a ladder up to the roof to enjoy the cool night breeze. The holy candles already lit and many another, the flicker and glow like a private chamber with sparklin’ gems, where a king waits for his favorite bride. My head a-spin. I gasped a breath, and Elijah’s daughter took my hand.

Oh, like a fireball crossin’ the skies and me astride it. The chariot of God! I circled the horizon and returned back here.

While I been fireballin’ across the worlds it seems I ate a Sabbath meal, sittin’ at the table, probably even talkin, and surely we done the prayers and songs, but I don’t remember none of it.

I woke next mornin’ on a pile of hay in the kitchen corner, the sky a-streak with the feathery pinions of the sun. We shuffled off to the gathered minyan* and morning prayers. For others perhaps just a blur in many another day. But a new life begun for me.
* prayer quorum; minimum of 10 men. Sorry ladies. You won’t be included for awhile.

~~~~~~~~~~

In the next episode 400 years in Sura pass like a single day.

About the Author
I am a writer, educator, artist, and artisan with an awe of The Eternal and an unbounded love of Judaism that shapes everything I think and do. My poetry is devoted to composing long narrative poems that explore the clash between the real and the ideal, in the lives of historical figures and people I have known. Some of the titles of my books are: The Song uv Elmallahz Kumming A Pilgimmage tu Jerusalem The Pardaes Dokkumen The Atternen Juez Talen You can listen to podcasts of my Eternal Jew posts on my personal blog, Textures and Shadows, which can be found on my website, or directly, at: http://steveberer.com/work-in-progress. In the process of reconstructing lives, I also reconstruct English, in an effort to achieve heightened and multi-dimensional perspectives. I have recorded some brief thoughts about this philological journey in a series of essays entitled "Essential Notes on Linguistics." You can read these on my website or at Academia. My creative life also includes arts and crafts. For example, my older son and I are working on an illuminated Megillat Esther. Finally, and in many ways most importantly, I currently live with my bashert just outside Washington, DC, and have two remarkable sons, the three of whom light my life.
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