Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Yamulkas in Berlin 6:30

Vasily Surikov
1848 - 1916


 “No, I'm just a very naughty boy. I do all sorts of bad things. I kick kittens. I make rude gestures at nuns.”
Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes




The Flag by Sholom Aleichem

The Plain Facts

  1. Length:Twelve Pages 

  2. Genre:Old Country Tales, Memoirs, Sholom Aleichem, Yiddish Literature.

  3. Characters:
    • Kopele Cock-crow (A.K.A. Topele Tottrow)
  4. Setting: A small village in Yidburrough, somewhere between Germany and Poland.

So, what's It About Man?

A young boy with a speech impediment learns what it is to grow up as an under-dog, mispoken "Boychik" ("a young lad").

Vegetable Juice

First Words

Children, I'm going to tell you a story about a flag: How a poor boy like me got a flag for Simkhas Torah, how hard I came by it, and how I was destined easily to lose it.  pg 59

Favorite Words

I watched his lips and said: "in the bedinnind Dod treated the heaven and the earth."
No silly one! said Reb Zyama. "Don't say Dod, say God! God! God!"
Dod! Dod! Dod!
Reb Zayma threw up his hands.  You know what I've just discovered? It's a waste of time and effort.  Even black magic won't help him.  He's a hopeless case."

Final Words

Dear children-and the same to you and yours!

Words Defined:

word definition

Lag B'Omer
Lag BaOmer is a Jewish Holiday, celebrated as a symbol for the fighting Jewish spirit.
gaberdines Coarse cloak or frock worn especially by Jews during the Middle Ages
Shemini Atzerres The Talmud[10] describes happiness (שמחה, simcha) and recitation of Hallel as the two obligations of Sukkot that carry over to Shemini Atzeret. As a proof text, at least in regard to Shemini Atzeret evening, the Gemara brings the text at Deuteronomy 16:15: "והיית אך שמח" ("v'hayyita akh sameaḥ", "and you shall be completely happy").

Literary Reflection:  I love Sholom Aleichem because he gives us the full complexity of what it is to be Jewish in a small Jewish community.   The synagogues in the story are not one but multiple types. Each synagogue caters to the need of a certain segment of the Jewish Community;  there are synagogues to butchers, to bankers, to the pious, to the impious, to the rich and to the homeless.   The various prayers at the synagogues gather together into a cacophony of rich prayer to one God.  One reads of struggles, but feels the complete happiness that gathers beneath God's wings.     

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