The letters of our thoughts are the ideas present in our mind before they come to realization . . . Thoughts that are, yet not felt . . . The words of the subconscious . . . of the soul . . .


Monday, July 16, 2007

The Soviet General

The Jews of Kaunas (Kovno) taken Chanukah 5766

Last night on the Roving-Rabbis Blog where many of my posts are mirrored from here someone commented on my post Wolf and Aranka -The Sky's Tears

You guys are amazing, no wonder why the world loves Chabad! Reading your blog put me to tears, you guys are are a real selfless, loving, kind and giving part of society, long live the Chabad's
I was flattered and inspired to say the least, and a sudden urge came over me to write something . . . but I was not sure what to write about.
While listening to the niggun Tzama-Ech Ti Durin on my iPod, it came to me; an event from this past Pesach . . .

In the small conference room of the modern Medžiotojų Užeiga hotel in Šiauliai, Lithuania a lone group of Jews gather for the Passover Seder.

Survivors from the Lithuania of old or Russians transplanted to the this former bastion of Torah by Stalin's machine, young students -ignorant of their heritage- but eager to learn, and zeides with memories of how things once were . . . they all share one thing -the name 'Jew.'

The young American yeshivah students try to entertain them over the course of the Passover seder -smiles seem to almost crack leather faces wrinkled with age and sorrow, looks of wonder of new knowledge gained come to those far younger.

In the corner sits an individual alone from the crowd. His name is Mendel, perhaps Moishe, known in Russian as Misha . . . he does not know what to make of this seder, or these American born rabbis. They reach out to him, try to draw him in -but this is not what he wants. He had envisioned a night of Vodka and passionate dancing . . .

The seder progresses; they are done with salt water and bitter herbs -full with matzo and wine . . .

Misha is still sullen, taciturn and lost in thought. A life spent as an officer in the Soviet army has left him numb to ritual . . . something did draw him to this place, but what it is can not be clearly articulated in his mind.

The end draws near, as the door is opened for Elijah the prophet. Misha gets up and contemplates going out for a breath of fresh air, perhaps a cigarette or even a chance to leave with out notice

Something stirs within, he remains for the last few fleeting minutes of seder.
The wine of Elijah's cup is returned to its bottle. One of the candles on the table begins to flicker and die out.

Suddenly one of the yeshivah students jumps to his feet, words issue forth from his throat with great zeal:

нет нет неКого (Nyet Nyet Nikavo -there is nobody besides Him (G-d))

They hold hands and begin to dance in a circle, jumping and twisting to the words.

Misha becomes excited and points to the other guests:

"You see!" he says in glee, "There is nobody besides G-d!"

The other guests laugh -one of them replies in mock jest,

"You were a Soviet general, since when did Soviets believe in G-d?

"Me?" Misha responds. "I'm a Jew!"

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