Stephen Berer
the Eternal Jew's biographer

The Eternal Jew’s Tale, #132, The Journal

“You talk like Eve with fruit in hand”; image colorized and modified by the author, obtained from Wikimedia Commons, Bible of Jean de Sy, Fall of Man, in the public domain.
“You talk like Eve with fruit in hand”; image colorized and modified by the author, obtained from Wikimedia Commons, Bible of Jean de Sy, Fall of Man, in the public domain.
In this episode new evidence comes to light.

The Eternal Jew’s Tale
Eighteenth Era, Part 4, ~1425 C.E., Genoa

Next day, back at the studio that inveterate peace-maker, Daniyel announces,
“The captain called for me, and wants to talk with Saadia, too.”
So I traipse off with him. Just outside the door he turns and confronts me,
“What’s the ax you need to grind on Juan’s back? The man shines like a star in the sky, and he’s taken his share of violent abuse, and still walks proud with his head high, a Jewish map still guiding him. What’s your problem, bending a growl onto your face and into your heart?”
And I’m thinkin’, ‘Ecch, I don’t need this,’ so I push it aside with a thoughtless remark,
“The man annoys me with his know-it-all,”
which earns me a lecture, tedious and long, that ends with a heap of fatuous praise of the man’s elevated Jewish spirit, which stings me right at my sorest spot. Like a lanced boil that pours out its pus, my poison feelings gush from my mouth,
“Ain’t nothing Jewish about the man. Hid himself in a Christian name, Christian walk, Christian talk. Like fugitive colors in the light of the sun, the Jew in him is fade away. All that’s left is a cowering Jew lurkin’ around the edges of him, a shadow repulsive to everyone, and Christian and Muslim alike expect every Jew to act like him. You seen it too, with your own eyes. Just last night up on stage them Berbers shamin’ our Jewish boys with their arrogant lyrics, ‘us better than you,’ which the Christians thought they was talkin’ to them and rose up to jam it down their throats, and our throats too, just to make sure we know our place, which is on our knees. That’s the Juan that I can see and I ain’t got no use for him.”
“You’re the kind of Bar Kochba* Jew that will have the whole of us burnt on poles. There’s no place for a man like you in my studio, or in my life.”
* leader of a failed Jewish rebellion in 132 CE
   which ended in devastating Roman retaliation
And he turned and walked on down to the piers, me, standin’ where I empaled myself.
His feelings all mingled in me, and probably mine intermingling him, settin’ fire to our own house, fury and outrage feedin’ the flame, like dry birch which burns hot. Our words been a scream, a wail, trying to save our favorite things — our favorite opinions and favorite lies — and quick to blame and quick to shame each other, and deeper down, ourselves, painfully singed hearin’ truths we long disdained and ranted against, and sorrowful shock that such a fight and such an end has broke us apart, and wonderin’ is this really the end, and can we find atonement still, some bitter stew we can both choke down.
Like a child who give his teacher lip and earns some stripes on his back and arms, and knows his old man be waitin’ on him to add more welts and welter of words, I trudge my way to a lashin’ at home, knowin’ no good can come from this.
“Daniyel won’t have no more parts of me.”
Simple words as I come thru the door. And Batkol seen that troubles come in, turns back to the pot and its simmerin’ stew, watchin’ it bubble and swirl and steam.
“I’m guessing it must be about that one come from Mallorca, that Christian Jew. You been growling and sniping at him every night since he arrived. Truth be told, your knife’s been drawn, waiting to stab him these many a day.”
“If every Jew been a coward like him, we’d long been gone, and God be judge!”
I snap, primed for her weltin’ word.
“You set yourself on God’s throne, judging that man like you know every road he traveled on, and all he suffered and all his trials, and all the ways his soul’s been bent, and how to keep his faith intact in all this darkness, ruin, and rack.”
“You talk like Eve with fruit in hand:
Take a bite. It’s good to taste; the asp told me, that sagely beast. Perhaps we misunderstood the Lor, or maybe misheard, or maybe, who knows, maybe His Word ain’t all the truth.
“What’s this viperous talk in you? We know the way to follow the Lor, and how a Jew is live the Law. It ain’t beyond the sea for us. ‘Must remember.’ ‘Must observe.’ What’s this talk of ‘we don’t know?’”
“You can’t imagine what I saw, what I felt, what I did, when I was up in Liguria’s hills under the spell of that healer witch. I wrote it all. Read it yourself, and let it annul our marriage vows if you can’t live with every deed. But I’ll hide it no more, and God be judge.”
And she digs out a notebook hid in a chest, which I guess she wrote up in the hills.
Such caustic words! Horrid to read. They made me nauseous, furious, appalled, and yet like an addict I couldn’t stop, fascinated, like a whirlpool they sucked me down in their murky deeps, in their lucid terrors and ecstasies, in their undertow of mystery; deceitful, confusing clarities.
In the next episode… Batkol’s gone.
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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