From Jerusalem to the Edge of Heaven: Meditations on the Soul of Israel

From Jerusalem to the Edge of Heaven: Meditations on the Soul of Israel

From Jerusalem to the Edge of Heaven: Meditations on the Soul of Israel

From Jerusalem to the Edge of Heaven: Meditations on the Soul of Israel

Synopsis

An innovative combination of autobiography, fiction, talmudic commentary and reflections on modern Jewish identity.

Excerpt

Sha'ar Atzmi:

My Own Gate

The Mourner's Kaddish:
A Chapter from an Abandoned Novel Written in New York, 1978

On Rosh Ḥ Elul 5726 (1966), I murdered him out of mercy. I couldn't bear to see his suffering. During the whole of his last year, he would wander like a sleepwalker through the narrow streets of Jerusalem, a giant tallit wrapped around his Shabbat robe, his eyes dimmed, his lips murmuring with a mysterious stammer, "It is Shabbat today . . . it is forbidden to put on teffilin . . . it is forbidden to tear the strings that mark the Shabbat boundaries . . . it is Shabbat today."

Day after day, the children of Jerusalem threw stones at him and set their dogs on him. The dogs would tear his tallit from his shoulders, and he would continue to murmur, "It is Shabbat today, it is forbidden to put on tefillin . . . it is forbidden to throw stones at dogs . . . Why, children, do you throw stones at dogs? They will run off to the edge of town and tear the strings of the Shabbat boundaries, and then Jerusalem will not be marked off from the rest of the world . . . it is Shabbat today . . . it is forbidden to put on tefillin . . . ."

I could not watch his misery. I dosed my eyes, and I bit my lips, and I tore the invisible strings that were his last connection to this world.

After that, I went out into the streets of Jerusalem and said Kaddish Yatom, the mourner's Kaddish. For three days and three nights I wandered through the streets and said Kaddish, murmuring with a mysterious stammer:

Yitgadal veyitkadash shmei rabbah be'alma dee. Be'alma dee yitgadal veyitkadash shmei rabbah. Shmei rabbah be'alma dee yitgadal veyitkadash.

For three days and three nights I wandered through the narrow streets of Jerusalem, and I recalled the wonderful days he had granted me as a child. Then I mourned him for seven straight years.

During my childhood, he used to carry me on the wings of his imagination, and he used to know all my thoughts even before I thought them. Every day he used to accompany me to school through the alleyways of Sha'arei Ḥesed, Naḥla'ot, and the Maḥane Yehuda market. Every day he would skip behind me over the roofs of the houses, and he would help me cross the streets in the days . . .

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