Stephen Berer
the Eternal Jew's biographer

The Eternal Jew’s Tale, #83, Yom Kippur

Tamar’s Accountants; image colorized and modified by the author, from the public domain book India, Pictorial and Descriptive, published 1888, owned by the author.
Tamar’s Accountants; image colorized and modified by the author, from the public domain book India, Pictorial and Descriptive, published 1888, owned by the author.

In this episode: how the artist’s status is above that of kings.

The Eternal Jew’s Tale
Fourteenth Era, Part 19 of 18, ~1170 C.E., to Khazaria

I spake of Yom Kippur before. But just this teeny anecdote here, downwind from Aden’s balm…

You know the day. Its awe and fear; its *Unetanneh Tokef* dread with open Arks and fiery words and ‘You our Shepherd, we Your flock.’
*-* a particular prayer and historic tale of God’s judgin’ our Souls

Here in Abba Ivri they start just at sunrise and not long after they open the Ark for the first *al khaet* and there they are, them lions again. Just two this time, starin’ out into the folk, with lightning gaze. And as we begin, ‘For the sins that we sinned,’ out they leap into our midst, lookin’ down into the mire of us, readin’ us like a children’s book. Now one man gets a swipe on the cheek and a little rivulet of blood runs down; another a slash across the chest and all his blood is gushin’ away. Every soul that was standin’ there took their wounds or their deadly strikes with nary a wince and nary a cry. Them lions return as the Ark is closed.
*-* confessional prayer

“Batkol! Batkol! Surely you seen…”
She looks at me with a teary smile,
“That confession is ever so intense for me.”
Her who could see the gilgals* in Ethop, and read hearts from Tiveria to here, don’t she see what is plain to see?
* transmigrations

I’ll tell you, it brung me a storm of grief to see the judgements and the kind of hurt people will suffer in the comin’ year, or to know that death is stalkin’ their way.

After Yom Kippur and after Sukkot* it seems the whole world treks up here — rajahs from India and Persian shahs, Arab sheikhs and Turkish khans — to pay obeisance to these simple folk.
* festival of booths

What do I know of kingships and crowns? Or silken threads and their warp and weft? The twisted strands that tie us tight, that weave our thoughts into garments of sense? Pull it here and it tightens there. Snag it above and it tears below.

But creatin’ art levels the field. Kings be reduced to beggars for it, buyin’ status from them that be coarse of garment and table and lineage but who serve the genius of divine skill, and from their hands such heavens reveal as make our pharaohs no more than slaves, and the kings of commerce as dull as their mules. The artist turns the world upside down.

Rajahs, shahs, khans, and sheikhs send obeisant ambassadors or come as supplicants themselves, to Abba Ivri, that earthy estate, to chatter and haggle, barter and buy ethereal rugs that make you think you’re standin’ within the palace of God or prayin’ before God’s very throne. Necklace and bracelet, earring and pin, hammered, twisted, and beaded gold, as settings for rubies, pearls, and gems of every color, cut, and size — pieces of jewelry to dazzle the eye, the envy of wizards, the objects of war.

Such be the visitors to Abba Ivri, with their entourage: a bustlin’ camp of envoys and ministers, soldiers and spies, porters and footmen, butlers and cooks, prostitutes, gigolos, and diggers of gold. Hunting, feasting, music and dance, double dealing and escapades, drunken brawls and secret trysts, and as for sleep, it’s not on the list.

And here, this Jewish village persists in its simple ways of family and faith, choppin’ wood to fire the stove, to heat the iron, to work the gold; fluxxin’ solder and meltin’ beads; or beatin’ plate or tappin’ a die. And other ovens to boil bark and roots and leaves, extractin’ dyes for the finest wools to soak and set, to spin and spool, to tie their rugs, to weave shawls and lay brocades. And them who draw the jewelry designs, and color by color, lay out grids, or knot by knot produce each rug, or thread by thread they warp the looms, twistin’ ideas into art. All punctuated three time a day with *Shakhrit, Minkha, and Maariv* prayers, this, while the royals ruckus and romp and squander their hours in pimp and pomp.
*-* morning, afternoon, evening prayers

*Oseh shalom bimromov* and here our Sh’monah Esray ends, that journeyed us from Tiveria and journeys us still, the moment of us, the hour, the day, the life of us subtly woven into our selves, silent, hidden, and then like a fin of a dolphin, cuts the surface of the sea; a feelin’, a phrase, a complex ta’am* ripples across our frothy mind, remindin’ us what we don’t see is pushin’ and bumpin’ and twistin’ us; and some would say it’s the most of us and we’re just flotsam ridin’ its wave. Flotsamous me washed up on this shore.
*-* “create peace for us as on high;” begins last verse of 19th blessing of
Sh’monah Esray; * both a taste and a musical phrase


In the next episode, sketches of scenes from a balcony.

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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