Stephen Berer
the Eternal Jew's biographer

The Eternal Jew’s Tale, #134, Soul at Midnight, 2

Messenger; image colorized and modified by the author, obtained from Wikimedia Commons, Seated Old Man, van Dijck,Oo-10-158, in the public domain.
Messenger; image colorized and modified by the author, obtained from Wikimedia Commons, Seated Old Man, van Dijck,Oo-10-158, in the public domain.
In this episode the Eternal Jew must confront himself.

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

All day long I lay in bed. Night. Weary as Sisera.* So cold, nothin’ could warm my limbs.
* Judges 4:16-21
Fadin’ in and out of dreams, so real, so detailed, so terrible. Threatening precincts; conspiring hags who want to seduce or murder me; I am accused of blasphemy; judges discussin’ my seditious case, all of them ancient as Noah himself.
My accuser hobbles into the room. It’s him! That messenger from afar, who points and says,
“He’s the one! I come down here to this Genoa. He takes me into his house to sleep. Now see. I’m stripped of all my sense. Once I could hear your every thought, could feel your feelings bubble thru you. Now look at me, blind and deaf. Even my own feelings are misunderstood. And yours, I haven’t any clue. You’re the one that blinded me.
“I come down here, this Genoa. He lures me into his house to sleep. Now see. I’m strapped with all his senses, heavy elements crushing me. Adam and all his decadent brood constraining me to their corridors; three dimensions, irreversible time. Once I lived in a body of light, n-dimensions of clarity. Now I’m opake and mired in clay.
“I come down here, this Genoa. He lures me into his house of dreams. Now see. I can’t know who I am. Like a building collapsed into itself, all my memories lie in a heap, all buried, broken, corrupted, decayed. Before I came here all my past gave me the knowledge, strength, and means to think any way, to do anything, to vision myself into anyone. Now like a dybbek see how I’m bound by memories I can’t expose, I can’t enhance, I can’t control. Now look at me, unable to change, unable to liberate myself.
“He be the one who bound my soul down in this dungeon with carbon chains.”
The hinge creaks, death-march slow. My accuser, moaning, hobbles to his spot beside the stove, kneels with a groan, and disappears into the dark while I lie frigid and sweaty with fear.
Morning. He’s gone; may he never come back. I write down all I remembers of my dream, or whatever it were, tho most be forgot. Tho them words seemed normal enough in the night, writin’ them down they be sure enough strange, and hard to imagine they come from my brain.
Again, I can’t face goin’ outside, and lurch from cot to bench to cot, anxious, confused, exhausted, in despair. All I eat is that crust of bread, like dust in my mouth, like I been dead. Night comes on. The darkness presses like a heavy blanket. It warms me some.
Street sounds fade; evening wears on; silence grows as the underworld emerges thru its imperceptible cracks. Growl and bark, screech and cry, klip klop, kip kop, ippop, gone. Mysteries and miseries and misanthropies; turbulent thoughts heave and blow thru the heap of ruins inside of me.
Squeal of hinges; the squire of death, limpin’ and hunchback-bent, comes in.
“This world of yours deforms the soul. Look what it done to me this day.”
And he sinks beside the cold stove.
“How long you plan on plaguin’ me?”
“Not but a moment since I come, and not but a moment til I leave. But your prickly heart don’t incline my kindness to such a one as you.”
I scowl at him. In the dim light his white beard and woolen robe don’t hold their shape. Sometimes he seems to shrink to an elf, or then he seems to ignite in flame and pulse and grow like a Persian jinn, fillin’ the room. And now he seems to twinkle and flit, now here, now there, now lost in the dark.
I close my eyes. His raspy breath pollutes the air with its thick phlegm. And that too drifts into the night. A distant clang of some vigil’s bells. Troubled dreams that I can’t recall. I wake with a start, listen, intent, a long time; nary a sound. Sleep comes on like a clever thief; sneaks up quiet and covers my eyes.
“Saadia, I were sent to you. Most of the message, I already give, tho probably you don’t remember much. No matter. The wheels have begun to turn and you will follow their various curves, approximately, unwittingly.
“Still, I’ll repeat some things you forgot. You’ll probably forget them once again, but it sets a parallax in your brain to toggle your futures more accurately.
“First. As you know, there’s many worlds interwove most elegant into this sphere your senses know. In the highest worlds time don’t exist, at least, not like you experience it. But as you ascend, the moment expands, and that’s how your Prophets seen beyond the narrow horizons enclosin’ you.
“Second. You don’t know who you are. Down in your sphere no one does. You battle for status in your wolfpack mind, thinkin’ your money, your power, your acclaim put a Name onto your soul, like a trinketty crown upon your head. That’s just wolfpack thinking in you — it’s bloody meat torn from the guts of someone unlucky or weaker than you; but you strut and show off the hangin’ entrails. Your streets be like a theater’s stage, people pretendin’ who they want to be:
‘I be bad-ass.’ ‘I be bitch.’ ‘I be the dandiest dandy there be.’
‘ ‘I be the same as everyone else.’
‘I’ll bite if I can get away with it, but mostly I just don’t want to be bit.’
‘I’m so rich my shit don’t stink.’
‘I’m so pretty you can kiss my feet.’
‘I’m so powerful I can commit any damn crime and not pay for it.’
“In short, you’re busy tearin’ to scraps the Eternal Name inscribed in you.
“Third. You’re walkin’ backwards down here. You don’t create your Eternal Name. The Eternal Name be creatin’ you, while you be busy unmaking’ yourself. The Motive and Force you can’t see, but you can prepare the way for it. To begin, open a door to your soul; Torah tells the where and the how:
‘On your doorposts and on your gates’
but you, so literal and Adam bound, don’t understand the meaning of that. Inscribe them in your senses, and write them in books, in sketches and notes, music and prayer, every day, looking inward and out, extracting holy imaginings from every feeling and every thought, from every impression of every sense. That’s the mezuzah you must write.
“And fourth. If you choose to climb the rungs towards the higher worlds, your wolfpack mind will seek rewards, expect rewards, accept rewards. It’s bloody meat. All empty. All false. All mislead you on your way. The wolfpack mind is much too crude, too selfish, too cruel to guide you in the upper worlds. You must free yourself from it, step by step, if you would rise.”
Silence. Darkness. He says no more. Me, a-tremble. Fear and awe. I lay all night rehearsin’ my words. Morning. Naturally he’s gone. But maybe he weren’t ever here. Still, I writ his words in this book. And now my world seems sharp and clear. Resolved! I must go find my Batkol.
In the next episode, another Tarshish, another boat.
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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