Stephen Berer
the Eternal Jew's biographer

The Eternal Jew’s Tale, #60, I, A Wolf, 2

Wolf Serenade, image colorized and modified by the author, obtained from Wikimedia Commons, Buffalo Land – Midnight Serenade, in the public domain.
Wolf Serenade, image colorized and modified by the author, obtained from Wikimedia Commons, Buffalo Land – Midnight Serenade, in the public domain.

In this episode, wonder of wonders, the wolf knows Hebrew…

The Eternal Jew’s Tale
Thirteenth Era, Part 3c,
Ethop Interlude 1, As I Lay Dyin’, I, a Wolf

… A candle flicker through a broken pane. I hears the terrible magic chaunt. Me soul shuddern; me hand a-shake….

“Me knocks. The door open a cracks. Me says,
“’Shabbat shalom, fellow Jew. Can you open your door to a loss soul?’
‘The Lor’s compassion be on you. You’re just in time to say kiddush*.’
* blessing over wine

“Hardly before the door be close he beguns him chaunt of prayer. Blessings to welcome the night and day; a piyyut* or two for Jerusalem lost; bless some dry bread and a meager meal; blessings to thank the bounty, the Lor. Mostly silence, exceptin’ prayer. The candle burns low and so does me time.
* liturgical poem

“How to begins? What to say? Me can’t even suss what evil he does. Then from the darkness him hollow voice, like distant thunders him askin’ me:
‘What’s the portion* we read this week?’
* from the Torah

“‘Me lost and don’t know time or place.’
‘Viyekhi*. Know what that means?’
* Genesis/Berraysheet 47:28-50:26

“‘Well, me not know what it mean to you.’
‘The meaning be plain if you open your eye: Are you blessed or are you cursed? But can a blessing be a curse too?’
“‘Only you know, adoni*,’ says me.
* Hebrew: my master

‘Our Father seen the soul of His sons, seen the wolf that Benjamin were; seen his glories of strength and him soarin’, and seen the merciless heart of him. In the mornin’ he devours his foe. By night he is divide and pray. Only compassion prevails in the end.’
“‘Adoni, what be your name?’
‘You may know me as Rav Meir.’
“Him say no more, and lay on the ground. At him first snore, me slips away.

“Hiss and bite of freezen snow. All the night as we rush and runs me turn the message and turn it again. The bloodless and crooked finger of day reachin’ acrost the sky as we return. Hustlin’ into the shadowy lair, the king seen me. Snarl and groan.
‘You too late. Kill this man. Eat him heart and pick him bone.’

“Me looks at me guard. Despair in him eye.
“‘You king be afeart to take the cure. Do no leave him abandon you’s. Make him hear me; him yet can be save.’
“Me hears many a bark and yip before thems escort me back to the lair.

‘Away!’ he howl, and the guards back away.
“Alone, the king is a steely stare.
‘I have no desires to live no more. You be only prolong me pains. What you possibly do for me?’
“With me only thought me say to him,
“‘Sh’ma Yisroyel, Adonai Ellohanu Adonai ekhud
in a slow incant. Oh what a wailin’ pour from him maw.
‘How are you know what be lock in me soul devourin’ me? Can I live again?’
“‘The Lor a judge and the Lor forgives.’

“Him clingin’ to a frayed net of hope like a racoon dangles on a rotted vine above a linx:
‘How can I live as wolf king and be forgived when all me works be prey all the weak?’
“‘Do as you sayd. Pray all the week. Bless your kill before you eats. That keep open a redeemin’ path through this world of flesh and blood, all torn, where you be loss and find nary a ways back to kindness and back to our Lor.’

“Seein’ him ponder a new light, a question come:
‘Are you recall the prophecy that Jew sayd when him sends you back to this wolfen world?’”
‘Benjamin be a ravenous wolve. By mornin’ him consume him foe, but evening him be spoil and rent.’

“And that’s why wolve be howl each night, blessin’ the world and seekin’ forgives *for the innocent blood consume of him.*”
* others say: ‘for livin’ accord to him Maker plan.’

And with this, Ethop’s tale ends, addin’ merely what might be implied,
“That’s where me been these last long nights, pursuin’ the heal of me wolfen soul.”

“But explain to me,” I finally says, “what happened when you said the ‘Sh’ma’?”
“Me thinks me mades that entire clear. In a previer life he were a Jew, perhaps scornful, or wealthy and proud, or perhaps a miser and slow to give to widow and orphan and needy bride. Like ravenous wolve without a care for the weak. So, transmigrated, him become a wolf. All forgots him life as a Jew til the Lor sends that holy hermit to remember him. And so, him grief and guilt and shame, sick to death of him cruelty.”

Such a changin’ season of Ethop’s feelings. The bitin’ ice and blizzard blown, you can almost hear the dip dap dop drippin’ from icicles frinjin’ his thoughts; the gurgle and giggle of rivulets, shades of green emergin’ from the gray and deathly face of forest and field. Day by day the life surgin’ back. Brisk our walks to Meir’s house where he tells his rav every tittle and jot of them journeys into the wolfy world.
“Will you write this in book for me?”
Over and over his plaint and plead.
“It’s your adventure, not mine,” I says. “*Tell it straight, not slant or crooked.* Wondrous things need no twisted tell. Save that for toothless and soothless things.”
But no, he want me to tell his tale so there it be, from Ethop’s mouth, As I Lay Dying*, I, a Wolf.
*-* You listening, Emily? * others say: Dire

And then he were gone. Slunk away or stalked away, or flew or hopped.


In the next episode, apropos of ravens…

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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