Friday, June 21, 2013

Memorizing the past for the future

The Eastern Orthodox Church and, generally speaking, most of the Oriental and Ancient Churches of the East, have retained the old tradition of the Jews to recall, memorize, actualize the memory, commemorate and remind the departed. This is called in Hebrew "Hazakarat neshamot - הזכרת נשמות ''. The day is always the "Shabbat or saturday", because on that day God "stopped the work of creation "He had created and done by still doing", a difficult phrase to translate Hebrew "asher assah le'assot/אשר עשה לעשות ". Because, the Shabbat is never the end, but the commencement, not the deadpoint or line, but the point of beginning. We do understand this when the week is over and we may rest so far it is possible. It is far more difficult to accept and understand when we have to be separated, we death and quitting, passing away and over, crossing the eternal borders and barriers of what we see of this present world leads us to something else, unknown to us, not a part of our experience. No afterlife experience can witness for what real death and long separation means for the human and humane nature.

The Jews memorize the events of life and take them to a special experience: neshamot/נשמות are these "souls", that left the envelop of the body were they had lived and we do believe and trust in God, with a perfect faith and because of His confidence in our lives, that He will take them all in His realm, shelter them for always, reinvigorate and revive them in their bodies and safeguard them as whole bodies and flesh for the world-to-come.

This is the huge and immense challenge of faith. Some people, so many people would prefer to doubt. They are often driven to distrust because of many human realities: human suffering, handicaps, disabled people, both mentally and physically, evident lack of human psychological and physical, intellectual and imbalanced capacities lead to consider all "defects" as being without any possibility to be "repaired". Life burdens, unbelievable situation inside of human societies, mack of equality, treatment, care, absence of respect, the progressive degradation of a body, of brain and reflection capacities, disabilities in memory, speech, sight, walking - accidents of all kind, all this linked to loneliless and despair, leads to more absence of faith and trust in Divine Providence.

The Hebrew man is the one who crosses the realm of non-being into being and then being to become into a reality that cannot be seen. It is the rich meaning of the root "ivri/עברי '' the "one who goes beyond", in Hebrew on a permanent "birthing-ibbur-עיבור ''. Intriguingly, this move cannot be reall fathomed and caught together and we still only see things as in a mirror, as Paul of Tarsus said. Ivri/עורי '', spelled with a "connective vav" still means "blind" in Hebrew, as if a society cannot truly imagine the final direction it follows in so unclear and still fascinating routes.

We are all born to quit each other, by generation, by age, sometimes we spend more time together, at times time is shortened or compacted. It happens that some people live in a few years more than others would experience in decades of existence. and yet, too difficult to understand. I always say the people I meet to enjoy to the full the great gift we have to meet and being together in all the possible ways offered to each generation. In Jerusalem, I meet people for a few minutes, hours, some days and it seems over - for a decade, five years, one year, more or less, for always. suddenly, after ten or more years a person calls or shows or writes. But we did meet and this has no price. This isthe value of being humane, we say "mentschen" in Yiddish, a word that is almost "liquid", makes that our hearts and minds can "melt" because all of a sudden, we do approach a reality that we are given for something that overcomes and surpasses all possible values, except the deep respect for who each person is.

Some people experience that the people who are to die as we all are to die, pass away or repose and do not quit us. We need to cry, to show tears. In the Middle-East and some cultures, we sob, cry, yell. it is almost "professional". But the "departed" cannot sob or weep. We have to show our mourning.

We can do so because we have a speech. as humans memory relies upon our abilities to say that somebody, a person who did exist and we know the person came to this world, then grew up, became an adult or more and then declined and passed over. A name, sometimes different names. We can do this because of our capacity to name objects and persons and to recall them, include them in a calendar, a time schedule in expansion.

There is definitely some (just/unjust? who can tell) imbalance, disequilibrium among the living. We do not know about the departed. We cannot know about those whose are still to be born as said in Talmud Sukka 62b: messainic and prophetic developments that leave us, humans, speechless, and still, the language is at the core of our conscience, awareness and often of our suffering.

The Roman Orthodox Church of Jerusalem arrives at the feast of Pentecost this Sunday, Monday and next week the Church enters the time of "the Holy spirit", the same who was "surfing and flying like an eagle over the waters/ורוח אלהים מרחפת על-פני המים '' (Geneis/Bereishit 1:2). On the feast of Pascha - resurrrection of the Lord, the Orthodox Church reeads the portion where the Lord comes to the disciples and he said that he pours upon him the Gift of the Holy Spirit. The same happens on the feast of Shavuot (Giving of the Written and Oral Laws). The "unspoken speech" of the "Ghost", diving in the air as through the world as a dove comes and nurtures, nourishes each of us. The Church or say the Great Assembly of the faithful is the reality of the living and dead from the very beginning of the world till the world-to-come. This is difficult t oimagine, to accept, understand. It is a slow experience that may develop in our personal and collective lives. It is a gift. It is often the anticipation that we are never left aside and that dolorism is not the final path.

This is why we have to keep being humane, warm to all we meet. Even if they do not understand why we can be warm and enjoy their presence.

This is also why the Qaddish Yatom/קדיש יתום או צידוק הדין , as all the forms of Qaddish that exist in the Jewish tradition, do not speak of death, mourning, sobbing but of life, comfort, joy, pardon, care, health and hope, presence from high and unity of all.

The same is valid for the Church: life compassionate and patient and try to get to the core of the values of our days as of those days the others have, close or foreign to us, friends or enemies.

We are in the time of the Pentecost, the time of the Spirit. May we be one in this hope and silent hug and kiss given from Above to all.

av aleksandr (Shabbat of the souls - Πσθχωσαββατο Родительная Суббота - הזכרת נשמות תשע''ג\2013 ).