Stephen Berer
the Eternal Jew's biographer

The Eternal Jew’s Tale, #104, Polish Law

Wladyslaw I Lokietek; image colorized and modified by the author, obtained from Wikimedia Commons, National Library of Poland, #99224805, Album Jubileuszowe, in the public domain.
Wladyslaw I Lokietek; image colorized and modified by the author, obtained from Wikimedia Commons, National Library of Poland, #99224805, Album Jubileuszowe, in the public domain.
In this episode Susya runs out of jokes.

The Eternal Jew’s Tale
Sixteenth Era, Part 6, 1300 C.E., Lutsk

Rattle of keys and rattle my teeth from fear, from the chill, from hunger and despair. And some jailer grabs me by the back of my shirt and yanks me out of that rancid cell, drags me down a hall and a narrow stair to a courtyard; soldiers sittin’ on horses starin’ at me with evil intent. My jailer whistles. The gatekeeper cranks a wheel, and the heavy iron gate slowly rises. I’m dragged underneath and pushed. I fall in horse dung and mud. My jailor grunts and swaggers back into the courtyard, and the gate comes rumblin’ down.
A hand reaches under my armpit and lifts, and there’s Susya and some elders of Lutsk, and Batkol, *a whiter shade of pale.*
*-* Moody Blues
“The judge has been paid, the charge annulled. But you best be movin’ on further west, lest Bogdan’s widow finds some gold and pays the judge to re-think the case.”
So says Susya, abrupt and cold. Ain’t no jokes to lighten his mood.

Sixteenth Era, Part 6, 1320 C.E., Chelm

Yiftakh we never seen again, but plenty of warlords could use his skills.
We trudge on west; come to Chelm. Fools we would be to unpack our bags, thinkin’ Susya won’t find us here, livin’ in the midst of his rabbinic fief. But there’s work here, so fools we be.
We attach ourselves to a local lord, a half day’s walk from the market in Chelm. At first we just repair his house, shingle and mortar, shovel and trench. But shortly he has us tendin’ the farm, husbandry and preparin’ meals. And then to surveys and accountin’ the worth of forests and fields, tavern and mill. And then we become like Yosef* to him, like Yosef arose in Potiphar’s house. And our lord, just like that Potiphar, has close connections to the king.
* You know, Jacob’s favorite
Our lord’s lord was Vladislav 1, mockingly known as ‘the elbow high,’ but his spirit towered over the land. I’ll spare you the idolatry and fairy tales that have piled up around him elbow high. Like any another pharaoh’s court, he’s busy with bribes and fawning deceits, and the dogs all bitin’ each other’s heels or throats, all toothy for power and wealth. But I’ll say this much about Vladislov – he tries to walk in the light of the Lor, standin’ above the common folk to establish one law for the home-born and all.
And so our world was created anew, as the Sages declare when the doors of Shacharit* open to the Light, and the Lor of all, our Adonai “makes each day holy, perpetually creating.”
* section of morning prayers following the call to prayer
And I seen for myself that this be true. I were carried along in my rivery thoughts, every heart beat in every breath, every flickering’ blink of my eye, a new ‘me’ in a new world comes to the surface and then sinks down; distinct worlds that bubble and burst and bubble again, new and the same – conscience pulsing into my mind, into every mind, notes of one song. I to I, and me to you, and we to all, and all to one; we mere slivers of a slivery world that rushes thru us. Seamless it seems, but slow it down and note by note it comes apart into fractals of thought.
For a short time my world slowed down, and I seen its notes, one by one, disarrayed, each from each, and felt the Divine Song of it rejoinin’ the fragments. River. It flows. Wonder and dismay at what my eyes seen, and what my mind fails to understand.
In the next episode, a mystical experience transcribed.
About the Author
I am a writer, educator, artist, and artisan. 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: I live just outside Washington, DC with my bashert, and we have two remarkable sons. Those three light my life.
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