Honoring the Teachers

Ben Zion Wacholder z”l

He first joined the library staff in the Fifties
Los Angeles
He then joined the faculty.

Once I asked him if he would teach us
Certain esoteric texts —

“Oh yes, I remember those,”
he told me in the doorway of his office
“when I was a child we learned them. . .”

He then quoted from several of the texts
Reading them off the air above his head
And I realized that he did all his teaching
From memory.

By that time he was almost blind
Or as they say in our language —
Sagi nahor,

Full of light.

He taught Talmud at our school
He quoted all his texts from
Memory.

The memories he separated out
From his complex
Origins —

He was born in Ozarow, Poland in 1924
Survived the war years posing as a Christian
Under an assumed name.

After the war to Paris
Then Bogota
New York
Los Angeles —
Cincinnati where he taught
Until his retirement.

It was also Ben Zion Wacholder
Who bootlegged the Dead Sea Scrolls
By computer with his graduate student,

Reconstructing the texts with glue
[glue a computer program created by his student Abegg]
Thus bringing the Scrolls
[Which had been withheld for decades]
To the world.

Dr. Wacholder taught us that the Teacher of Righteousness
Moreh ha-Tzedek of the DSS
Was not an historical figure

Nether was his nemesis
Kohen Ha-Rasha
The wicked priest

But were set against each other
In the figurative struggle for the future,

The future –

Rest in peace
Ben Zion Wacholder
1924-2011.

jsg, usa