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Stephen Berer
the Eternal Jew's biographer

The Eternal Jew’s Tale, #47, Jerusalem Judenrein

Dream of Adam, colorized and modified image from the public domain book Atlanta Fugiens, by Michael Maier, first printed 1618, accessible online at the Science History Institute.
Dream of Adam, colorized and modified image from the public domain book Atlanta Fugiens, by Michael Maier, first printed 1618, accessible online at the Science History Institute.

In this episode, a return to Jerusalem, but it ain’t quite the same.

The Eternal Jew’s Tale
Twelfth Era, Part 3, 1096 C.E., Germanic states

In my dreams the screams and tortured faces…

I seen Adam once, oh horrible dream; his wrinkly face and thick white beard like Elisha the Healer’s who I met in Troyes, but a young man’s body, sinewy taut. He glowed like a coal in a blacksmith’s pit, translucent he were, all fire and heat, pulsin’ a rosy and gold tinged flame, like the blow-back of heat when a bellows is pumped in a blacksmith’s furnace; such an agonized soul. I cringed and gasped as Adam howled — a soul stoked beyond its endurance — like a coal it sputtered, hissed and exploded, and sparks spiraled out in shades of blue.

And now my Adam had a different face, suddenly transformed, tho I was unaware. Emicho stood there in his pulsin’ glow and changing colors, declarin’ his truth like a rumblin’ thunder that arrives from afar. And it seemed to come from future or past. Appalled I listened on this strand of the sea, in this violent storm, and heard his command to record every word of the eternal man. And I moaned out in my dream,
“I can’t discern your voice from the tohu thunders and bohu wind.”

Then louder the crash on the turbulent sea and this flamin’ Emicho become Batkol in a spray of sparks and shootin’ pains. Now a maiden danced naked and proud. Now a matron, ancient, her aches severe, bent in her shawls, bowin’ to her Lor. And still the voice in the wave and wind, all pulsin’, the sounds stretched and compressed, and it seemed a whole roomful of people spoke, with cause and effect broken and bent.

I saw she was urgent to talk with me, her words echoed; what she said first I heard last. Or backwards the sound like a face in a mirror, yet I heard it a-right, and slowly I began to understand, “I am in you and I am of you and I am not you and sometimes you. All my states are talking to you’s. What are you hear and what are you not. Layered bodies; overlapping times, superposing into all of you’s.”

While still she spoke she disappeared. Yet I didn’t realize that, strange as it seems. All those changes only rose to awareness when Batkol gently took my hand and said,
“I don’t understand your words. More like moans or hums of a song. Were you dreaming or mumbling?”

We sit by a fire, the burnin’ heap of a village chokes us and burns our eyes. The rumblin’ crashes as roofs collapse; the shoutin’ of soldiers, charge and clash; the cries of women, the dying howls; children a-wimper; a whinnyin’ horse; as Batkol and me plan our escape from these lords of war and these layers of woe.

Brutal and bloody the endless days, the chargin’ moil up the steep hills; rock and cliff, scrub and thorn. Above us Jerusalem blares its horn.

I said to Batkol back in Bulgaria, “No. We can’t jump from this stinkin* ship, while its rudder is set for Jerusalem.”

And now our Temple built in the sky, its arrows of fire rainin’ down, our city of peace is a shout away.
* others say: sinkin’

Twelfth Era, Part 4., 1099 C.E., Jerusalem

Pinned down in a foxhole near Absalom’s cave. Burnin’ arrows dipped in pitch, like a thousand stars fallin’ from the sky. They shatter on the rocks in a spray of flames. The thick fume of burnin tar fouls the air, and now and again the crackle and smell of juniper and sage that smolders and flares in the dry brush.

I close my eyes and there’s a fox talkin’ to me. I start awake. So long ago I seen that fox, the night I fled these very hills when the Roman wolfmen trampled down our homes and courts, our holy ways. And again he’s talkin’ in Torah-like verse.
“The Lor has not returned here yet. These kings are vain, and all their war and all their dead have fought in vain.” 

You knows the outcome. Jerusalem falls, lower now than ever before in the coil that ascends from Adam to God. Slaughter of Muslim and slaughter of Jew. Mosques and synagogues looted and burnt. But Christians turn it upside down and they sees it as their great conquest, ascendin’ the rungs to the throne of their Lor. Triumphant, godful, ordained from the first, the next step — and nearly the last — til the end of time and Aden restored.

Hard to figure how terrors and pains, ruin and gore and severed heads are the ripe fruits that we will enjoy on the road to Aden and the House of God.

With the Fatimid armies cleared from the streets, from their towers and perches and privy lairs, and their princes and generals limpin’ away, and the knights sated in innocent blood, the princes sheath their heavy swords and slip out daggers, as the battle turns from gory crimes to glory times and who will wear Jerusalem’s crown.

And there’s that jackal, dressed like a monk, soft and clever and careful his steps, never directly approachin’ the throne, sideways and snideways, back and forth, honors to this one, obeisance to that, and ‘no, not me’ and ‘all for Christ’ til the crown finally sits on Bouillon’s head.

And all that time as he’s workin’ the dukes he’s makin’ imprecations, vows and curses that no more the cobbles of Jerusalem should echo the clatter of Jewish boots.
“The Jewish history started here, served its purpose and is long since done. Now their story has run to its end, first in Jerusalem, and soon everywhere.”

Til me and Batkol is all that remains of the Jews that dwell in our eternal home. Still, he calls me to translate for him — letters arrivin’ and decrees to post — work he can’t do without his Jew. I seen in his eye a resentful glare and day by day it’s gougin’ us both, him with vengeance, me with fear.

Bouillon has billeted Batkol and me in a tiny room damp with mold, at the end of a narrow and curvy souk, — carts and stands that jut from the walls with wrinkled fruit and a few limp herbs and last years almonds, raisins, and dates — not too far from Damascus Gate.

The end of a narrow and curvy souk and the end of a faithful and curvy life and the end of the tale of Jews in Jerusalem. That’s how Bouillon is plottin’ our course.

~~~~~~~~~~

In the next episode, an unexpected visitor in the night.

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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