The victories of poverty — Part II

The victories of poverty — Part II

Three centuries after its Judeo-Spanish publication in London (5469/1709) the first English translation of David Nieto’s eulogy to poverty.

Suggesting the possibility of something without pointing out the means of its occurrence, is like an unfulfilled promise. Hence, naming this eulogy, the victories of poverty without pointing out the means by which poverty can triumph, is denying the title, offending the poor and deceiving the public. Therefore, in order to avoid this, lets us prove how victories are not incompatible with poverty. 
In his depiction of the Last Judgement, the prophet Malachi said:

For the day / the sun is coming burning like a furnace, all the arrogant and wicked ones will be like stubble. And the future day shall burn them up, without leaving them a branch or root left [a desert], says the Lord of hosts. In contrast, for the compassionate and holy, the same sun will be a sun of tzedakah, a sun of healing, and when exposed to its rays, they will be well-fed like calves from the stall (Malachi 3:19-20):

כי הנה היום בא בער כתנור והיו כל זדים וכל עשה רשעה קש ולהט אתם היום הבא אמר יהוה צבאות אשר לא יעזב להם שרש וענף
וזרחה לכם יראי שמי שמש צדקה ומרפא בכנפיה ויצאתם ופשתם כעגלי מרבק

the same sun will be a sun of tzedakah, a sun of healing

The way the sun gives unbearable headaches, furious delirium, ardent fever and other dangerous illnesses, is asserted by medicine and also confirmed by experience; but feeding and healing are the total opposite of its virtue and surpasses its sphere of activity. If you want to see it, compare the inhabitants of torrid zones with those of temperate zones; you will find them fair-skinned, heavily-built and robust; the others, weak and scrawny. But my problem does not revolve around this; by considering how God gave the sun its faculty of feeding, it does not impress me to see that it produces the opposite effect. Rather, what does surprise me is how in its own continuous attribute, its name is disguised, by replacing it and calling it day:

כי הנה היום בא בער כתנור והיו כל זדים וכל עשה רשעה קש
ולהט אתם היום הבא

 

For the day is coming burning like a furnace…
The future day shall burn them up.

In His Authority, God miraculously concedes it the image of one day, calling it specifically, sun [of tzedakah]

שמש צדקה

Why is its name disguised in what is natural,
For the day is coming burning like a furnace

 

כי הנה היום בא בער כתנור


and shown in what is supernatural?
sun [of tzedakah], Shemesh tzedakah

 

שמש צדקה

Shemesh Tzedakah by Yves Cohen
Shemesh Tzedakah by Yves Cohen


Sirs, do you know why? For the same reason that burning and scorching are indivisible effects of the sun; thus, by naming its effects, the cause is found without risk of errors or distrust. However, feeding and healing, which are the opposite effects of the sun, and don’t originate in it, were conceded as a special privilege on the Day of Judgement only; if it is not manifest blatantly, that those aspects can come from it, pointed out with its name, no one would be persuaded that a star whose properties are burning and scorching can heal and feed us.

This is, in my view, the cause, because in its own quality it is named, metaphorically, day:

For the day is coming burning like a furnace

כי הנה היום בא בער כתנור

And in its extraneous and transitory aspect, it is called by its name,

sun of tzedakah, a sun of healing, and when exposed to its rays

שמש צדקה ומרפא בכנפיה

The observation about this notorious paragraph confirmed my deliberation for the title of this eulogy. This is why:
It is natural for the wealthy to give. And it is natural for the poor to receive. Who contributes to never-ending tzedakah? The wealthy; Who contributes to the Chevra Gemilut Chasidim (society for bestowing kindnesses). The wealthy. To the Etz Chaim (tree of life)? The wealthy. To the Sebuyim (prisoners)? The wealthy. For the sustenance and education of orphans? The wealthy. For the relief of the Holy Land? The wealthy. Therefore, it is so natural for the wealthy to give as for the sun to heat. How does the sun triumph every day? By its contribution of heat every day.  Thus, one can manifest the effects by concealing the cause, without distrust to ignore it,

For the day is coming burning like a furnace

כי הנה היום בא בער כתנור

Since healing and feeding are rare, particular and miraculous in it, it is necessary to name and say clearly how unusual is what it does on that day:

sun of tzedakah, a sun of healing, and when exposed to its rays

  שמש צדקה ומרפא בכנפיה

Thus, when the poor contribute to the holy society Bikur Holim, when giving is so rare and particular in them, this is the reason that God wanted to use the name of the sun in such terrible day, for contributing in an unusual way.

Therefore, on this auspicious day and in this eulogy titled, the victories of poverty, I made explicit the name of the poor, for contributing what they are not used to.

— Eulogy delivered in solemnity after the founding of the holy society Bikur Holim, Part I. By David Nieto, London, 5469 (1709).
First translation from Judaeo-Spanish by Walter Hilliger 2017.

About the Author
Walter Hilliger dropped out of Ancient Oriental Studies at the University of Berlin (FU) to devote himself to writing. Now he lives on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, where he wrote Bread from Eden. His well-researched book traces the legendary bread fallen from heaven that the Hebrews ate as a staple diet during 40 years in the biblical story of Exodus. It argues that the 3,300-year-old miracle food never disappeared from the world. The Hilliger hypothesis is rooted in the truth of a substitute for bread, the ancient manna, and gives a natural interpretation to an element considered imaginary and abstract. The quest includes a large bibliography, which compiles hundreds of citations from various periods and languages, to open up a religious and actual reflection on topics such as the plundering of natural resources, livestock production, food-slavery and the desecration of nature. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/walter+hilliger https://www.amazon.com/dp/1539498212
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