Thursday, June 28, 2007

Israel Beat

And the beat goes on, hot summer nights on the streets of Jerusalem, where every kind of music wafts from street to street.

From beat box to bossa nova, from klezmer to hassidish soul, music pours out to relieve our souls.

This week has been hot, hot, hot...a sense of waiting in still close heat for night to come colors each cruelly bright day in shades ranging from coffee to cream.

The heat began last Shabbat, whose Torah portion was Chukat. The Red Heifer, that most incomprehensible of any chok (Divine decree), kicked off the latest round of stifling hot weather, which every Israeli over a certain age assures me has not been seen at this time of year and in this manner of intensity for the last 30 years.

It is too hot to sleep. At 4am I move from bedroom to the front room, opening the big windows to the night air at the hour which temperatures have cooled down as far as they are willing to go. I lie upon the couch and gaze up beyond the silhouetted tree tops into the starry Jerusalem sky.

The street is quiet, the inaudible sounds of both prayer and private thoughts subsumed by this single silent hour, perhaps the only one where peace – “what Jerusalem is famous for” – might be found in unconsciousness, and blessedly uneventful dreams.

The Mishna (Sotah 9:15, II, W-LL) records the following about the coming of the Messiah:

Sotah 9:15, II
W. With the footprints of Messiah: presumption increases, and dearth increases.
X. The vine gives its fruit and wine at great cost.
Y. And the government turns to heresy.
Z. And there is no reproof.
AA. The gathering place will be for prostitution.
BB. And the Galilee will be laid waste.
CC. And the Gablan (the Golan) will be made desolate.
DD. And the men of the frontier will go about from town to town, and none will take pity on them.
EE. And the wisdom of the scribes will putrefy.
FF. And those who fear sin will be rejected.
GG. And the truth will be locked away.
HH. Children will shame elders, and elders will stand up before children
II. For the son dishonors the father and the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house (Micah 7:6).
JJ. The face of the generation is the face of a dog.
KK. A son is not ashamed before his father.
LL. Upon whom shall we depend? Upon our Father in Heaven.

As to the above, to some degree almost each and every one of the points have been in play, to some extent, throughout history and most assuredly as a woman in labor travails harder and faster towards the end of her ordeal, in an even more frequent and intense way in our recent times.

The exceptions are the Mishna's predictions about the Golan and the Galilee being destroyed – of course, with “The Second Lebanon War: Part Two” looming on the horizon this summer, anything can happen.

I feel like Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind:
"War, war war! That's all anyone is talking about. Why, all this talk of war is spoiling every party this spring!"

And yet everybody is talking about war, war, war. And it's very, very hot.

“It’s going to be a long, hot summer."

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