At the Academy

At the Academy

Friday night, Shabbat Pinchas, 10:45 PM

What We Say Before We Greet the Bride

Tonight I told the story of Rose of Jericho*
And her personal connection to
the Sefas Emes (Rebbe Yehuda Leib Alter of Gur, 1847-1905)
Who Aviva often cited when I learned from her
[A long time ago it seems]
In Jerusalem.

Aviva came to the Sefas Emes from some influence of the
Gateshead teachers’ training college
Affiliated with the celebrated Gateshead Yeshiva
Largest yeshiva in Europe –
Where she learned in addition to her
Doctoral training in comparative literature at Cambridge.

I opened with sitting next to Vered Yericho
The Rose of Jericho at Dov Noy’s salon
Maybe fifteen years ago
And knowing Rose and hearing her tell me
That she was given to marry
The Rebbe’s son [what!?—Moishele?] –

Instead she fled her home in Hungary
And came to Palestine.

Traveling with Rose to Jericho she sang the song she carries
like a sacred bundle
from her ancestor the Kalever Rebbe
But I couldn’t remember it.

Don’t forget this song, don’t forget this song
I said to myself along the winding stairway to and from Jericho,
But I couldn’t keep it. I forgot it.

I found it only last summer
On You Tube
In Hungarian
Learned it and sang it on the Holidays.

Thus my personal connection with the Sefas Emes
and the Kalever Rebbe was concise –

It’s not symmetry or even roundness I long for –
But the exploding fireworks and to follow
Every rivulet of spark to its dispersal in air –

In the Sefas Emes version of the holy
three fold blessing given in the singular
opening onto the whole
the individual as it opens onto the universal
the universal always sheleimut
l’sem lekha shalom
to bring the blessing from the individual instance
to the universal application –
the conduit from the one to the many
wild ride that –

to break through your skin and live in G*d.

jsg, usa

*The Rose of Jericho died in March, 2012
102 years old.