Stephen Berer
the Eternal Jew's biographer

The Eternal Jew’s Tale, #118, New Loom

Death Dance; image drawn and electronically modified by the author.
Death Dance; image drawn and electronically modified by the author.
In this episode the game gets warped.

The Eternal Jew’s Tale
Seventeenth Era, Part 5, ~1347, around Europe
Tales of the End Days

We sent a contingent across the straits to merry England. Massive crowds got carried away in Londontown, while me and the main show headed east, flowin’ thru Europe’s arteries — the Seine was insane; then the Oder of death. Our terrors and horrors plunged into their heart.
Meanwhile, Death with his many prods, kept whippin’ me back to his devilish game.
“Every day you avoid my game, lives are lost, whole worlds destroyed.”
“Academics are easy to find. I took you on for more than that.”
“Don’t like this world? Make a better one.”
Were he tweakin’ me? I’m not sure. Sometimes I felt he wanted to lose.
“The Lor be lookin’ down on us folk, measure and weigh, question and test, provoke and mislead with partial truth. In a language unknown and unknowable He plies us with dreams and makes us drunk*. God talks to us and a few of us hear, tone and image that we must interpret approximately. The best of us we call Prophets who bring down the Lor, God-words instructin’ them in holy tasks. They gather around them inspired folk, like a loadstone gathers shavings of iron. It seems like chance, but Divine fields abide in our thoughts and guide our feet…”
* others say: drink
Death impatiently stops me right there.
“Enough of this donkey honkin’ and bray! We know this game. It’s already failed. It’s the Prophet-Shaman opening. You’ve already seen the way it ends. Once all-powerful Sadducees controlled the Temple and Jewish rites by inheritance and divine law. But the Pharisee rabbis broke out. Educated and wiser they were, and rejected the power of the Sadducees. Now hear a secret; I know it’s secure since no one ever listens to you! A time is coming when all the priests will be overthrown by philosophers, and new knowledge will undermine the holy texts your Prophets wrote, and divine hearing will come to an end and the world will spin itself out of control.”
“Ha! Exactly! Now you’re in check! You and your plague or something worse will come and devastate all that’s built on sand, on falsehood, on greed and pride. But out of the ruins new Prophets will rise, with deeper and truer knowledge burnt into their twisted threads of thought. So bring on your plague or bring on your wars or bring on some dire more terrible thing. The breath of God will renew us. Every disaster strips off a husk that darkens the soul. When God calls, all of nature will rise to Hem.”
And now his look; be it anger? scorn? And I brace myself for his hammer blow.
“Indulge me, lad. Imagine this: your soul is a fabric intricately woven, and it weaves itself thru your blood and your breath. All that you are, all that you do, all that you feel, all you believe passes thru that fabric and is warped by it. Now imagine a prophet creates a loom allowing him to re-weave the soul. Wisdom and strength are yours to rebuild. Disease and doubt can be woven away. How will that change your history’s course?”
“This cannot be! The Soul is divine, which only God can fabricate.”
“But like I say, indulge me, lad.”
It’s just like Death to take God’s works and make them mortal and corruptible.
“You know, your sages hint at this — *a miracle is not a proof, and even an inspired and heavenly voice can’t override a Jewish court.* And others say that human hands in this klipah* are God’s hands.”
*-* midrash: Oven of Akhnai, Bava Metzia 59a-b;
* Kabbalistic term: dark shell enclosing this world; but also: this cosmic era
And so I try to imagine a loom that God might use to warp our soul. But more important than how the loom works is who is workin’ the shuttle and slay.
“Them that put a sword to your heart, or a yoke on your neck, or shackle your legs with poverty and compoundin’ debts, or with books of law for the powerful and other laws for the poor and weak — in short, them dogs with the meanest bite and always lookin’ to taste your blood — if they get their hands on God’s own loom, they’ll remake themselves as Nephilim*, and everyone else they’ll re-weave as slave; yea, everyone else they’ll tear the cloth to rags and make us sheep and cows, nor evermore to be restored. Greatly I fear such a master loom.
* giants; corrupt angels; Berraysheet/Gen. 6:1-4
“But if, perchance, a righteous one be set before this dread machine and learns how every thread is bound to many another; how fragile the thread; how easy to fray or tangle in knots; how intricate lain the whole design; fear and trembles to touch the cloth. Takes now a single warp of thread, one that is thick and pulled very tight, and twisted onto many other threads including a thread that’s coiled in the knot of aggressive feelings in thoughts and acts; this thread he unstrings, replacin’ it with a finer thread, and slacker too. And now he brocades that first thread into a delicate, airy design that spirals into empathy, to sharpen its design and make it bold, to sense each other, feeling and need. And wary now, locks the loom, waitin’ to assess the coarse and the fine changes his weavings generate.
“Now they careful observe all aggressive acts and this the scale they measure them on:
5. Physical violence is worst of all.
4. Emotional violence is after that.
3. Intellectual violence after that.
2. Aggressive debate is not so bad.
1. Respectful discussion the pinnacle.
“So long as it can gain leverage, violence won’t cease. Aggression will drive the human spirit that wants to excel. Slack aggression off too much, or make empathy over-strong and us humans maybe become like bees, full of hive and lackin’ self.
“And once them threads be adjusted well, I’d begin to sharpen our senses and heighten our skills for seein’ shapes and patterns of thought for comparisons, to open up the windows of sense, and push back the close horizons of thought.”
Lost in my thoughts I jabbered on, ignorin’ Death across the bench, sippin’ his tea and observin’ me. Who can fathom the heart of Death? But a blast of winter’s icy wind blew the hot air out of my lungs, and I grown fearful for Batkol and me, and even all of humanity.
“May God protect us,”
escapes from my mouth.
“You’ve served your purpose rather well. My tour and all its theater has become the talk of everyone, with shows in every major town; and bumpkins from out in the woods come to dance and sing and be swept up into the frenzy of my plague. In fact, you’ve done such a good job, I don’t need you anymore, Jew. Go back the way you came. If I call you again, you won’t walk away.”
In the next episode… a bottleneck.
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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