Stephen Berer
the Eternal Jew's biographer

The Eternal Jew’s Tale, #64, Lech Lecha

A world of Strange Attractors,  superimposed images colorized and modified by the author, obtained from Wikimedia Commons-- Whirlpool by Russell, New Conception of the Universe, and Macbeth MET-dp860038, in the public domain.
A world of Strange Attractors, superimposed images colorized and modified by the author, obtained from Wikimedia Commons-- Whirlpool by Russell, New Conception of the Universe, and Macbeth MET-dp860038, in the public domain.

In this episode our hero and heroine’s soles begin to harden. But what of their souls?

The Eternal Jew’s Tale
Fourteenth Era, Part 1 of 18, ~1170 C.E., to Khazaria
*Sh’monah Esray* — markers on a sacred journey
embedded in this world of trouble and illusion.

* Sh’monah Esray means ‘18′ in Hebrew, and refers
to the 18 blessings that constitute the core of Jewish prayer

Little did I know as we lekh lekha’d* north on a road that could lead to Haran, that our steps would wind down a well-worn route called the Sh’monah Esray, that root in our soul. That root in the soul breaks thru the rock and the rot of this earth, this woven veil of thought and feeling, sense and urge that we hardly know and rarely control; this vale of water and earth and air, of fire; of Adam twisted and tied, knotted and bound so minutely tight, layer on layer, world inside world, that many an age will wash away before our eyes will begin to see.
* Lekh lekha: ‘go forth’; name of the Torah portion that begins the saga of Abraham
as he goes forth from Haran to Canaan. Berraysheet/Genesis 12:1

As I were sayin’ before I drifted off — Our steps was attracted to strange paths around the Sh’monah Esray fields, verse by verse, stage by stage, place by place, day by day, as if we was swept up in heaven’s embrace, enlightened beings deep in our souls, circlin’ around the throne of God full of joy, while in our mind all we know is this impoverished earth. Our hearts ache. Our souls rejoice. One and the same. Concealed and revealed.

Now don’t go expectin’ wonders and signs and a story with obscure and mystic hints; with invisible hands in a chess board world, and meetings and troubles all meant-to-be; and gematria* to stand as proof. My brain ain’t that fevered; my eyes ain’t so sharp they can look into a human face and see God.
* numerical analysis of words, so that words of the same value share a meaning.
In Hebrew each letter is also a number, facilitating this mystical pursuit.

But just the same, I hope you withhold your logics and reasons and sceptic frowns. Like, if you ain’t seen it and tore off its wings then it never was and never could be. Maybe there’s a reason them higher worlds are mostly revealed to hermits and loons; and prophets are shunned like leper and leech. Them as been touched by them higher worlds may be few and may be outcast, but some, at least, have been lit by God.

If you work God’s fields, he’ll pay your wage and you can declare the worth of it, great or little; that’s your call. But if your coin’s from caesar, he’s your boss, with a varyin’ weight and a varied exchange to keep you hungry and slavin’ away. But it seem to me if you ain’t felt God or been pulled by God’s call, you’re just a slave servin’ yourself or somebody else. So all I asks is just walk with me.

Like I said when I started to tell this tale, we set out to *lekh lekha* ourselves from our hearths and our friends and our town and our land.
* see note above, Berraysheet/Genesis 12:1

With fears and doubts and our guts all tight, this prayer welled up:
“If we ain’t got worth, Lor, remember the great ones before and shine thru them Your mercies on us.”
We could hardly hear it among our thoughts, just walkin’ away from that ramshackle hut, that Temple of God, our hovelly home. Up the Heretics Way we walks — named for them heretic Karaites that years ago were driven out by hate and polemics, by hunger and need; abandoned their homes and just walked away. — Then we ourselves becomes the heretics thru Muslim and Christian narrow eyes. And after we leave, who will be next livin’ in poverty, scorn and shame?

We walks up that road, the summer heat, the nettly fields, the dried out chaff. Our thoughts bleedin’ from bramble and thorn. Our feet kickin’ up plumes of dust. Tears streakin’ the dust on our face. Family and friends that we once knew, as if they was pullin’ at our baggy sleeves, sayin’,
“Don’t you leave us, don’t forget the kindnesses we bestowed on you’s, us that shone the waves of the Lor crashin’ in thunders and awesome spray, and you and your children and all their seed walkin’ in our waves, on our former shores. We are the Adam and the angel of you, intertwined in your every thought.”

Our memories, a sorrowful troop of friends, all of them lost and still clingin’ to us.

And Batkol beside me mumblin’ to herself, like her breath be talkin’ all on its own, a sigh here and a little sob there as we walk down the road. Like the wind in gusts, down from the hill and thru the trees, words driftin’ out of her mouth:
“Us, inverse to the arc of God… *like grains a sand… all thems we knew, small in their own eyes, small in ours… and likely we the same to them… driven like foxes into the hills… like hapless sheep all shepherdless*…
*-* as compared to: Ha Ael, haGaddoel, haGebor…’…God, the great, the powerful…’

Best to keep our eyes to the ground, and hide our thoughts in a dull stare… sometimes we were the lowest of the low, stingy, mean like an alley cat, tearin’ off bites of some rotten scrap… nothin’ new was borne of our mind… and the work of our hands as coarse as our talk… remember how bound together we were, yoked and tethered, chafe and kick as we pulled, each in our own way and plowed our fields… what little we plowed… and this we shared, hungry, scared… waitin’ a redeemer day and night… and then Yehuda come, and gone again, and here we are, us broken shards… redeemed and unredeemed, the same… the Lor sings, and this our dance… blessin’ the Lor who is *vortex in* us.”
*-* others say vortexin’

Behold, before the moment has passed, I’ve breathed in, I’ve breathed out, and we’ve left Tiveria’s holy ways. We’ve said and lived the first prayer, blessed the righteous ones of old who charted out the wilderness* and heard a Godlike voice howl within the howlin’, lifeless wind; Aberham’s spirit, Aberham’s shield. Sh’monah Esray. Blessing number one.
* others say, ‘the wild in us ‘

And behold, we see from the top of a rise a garrison of knights, mounted, alert, guardin’ the fork to Damascus Road.

So that’s the bleedin’ edge of the gash the Frankish invaders have cut in the land; where sharpened swords and sharpened tongues clash and flash to test their edge.


In the next episode, a hermit…

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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