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 . . .


Sunday, February 01, 2009

On Sharpening Knives: The Journey of the Jewish Hero

Note: Slight additions have been made to the post since its initial publication.

I practiced shtelling a chalif today with one of the respected shochtem in the community . . .

I know it may smack some as problematic, but experience struck a chord in my soul.

There is something about The Hero's Journey, the monomyth - the way it plays on powerful archetypes of the human story - that attracts me.
While I'm well aware on the relative problem of comparative mythology vis-à-vis a Torah gestalt, i don't see it as practical contradiction - just like chassidus explains that the intrinsic need we posses for a dwelling comes from G-d's desire to dwell in this world, the universal symbolism and truth that certain archetypes have is due to their presence in the Torah.

In short, when I was being shown how to sharpen the knife by an elderly man with a long white beard . . . he was a Senex. He was (and I obviously add l'havdil) a Jedi master, a sensei, a Merlin . . . what have you . . . passing on what he acquired from his teachers to a new generation.

"No darlink, hold the knife like this." He said in a Yiddish tinted Brooklyn accent.

"What's your name?" He asked another.
"No, Ari."
"Aharon. It's Aharon." With a sigh.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Aharon." With a smile.
And so it goes . . .

"The first lesson is to stand up strait. That's the first thing my teacher taught me - and he could show me why . . . he got a hunch back from leaning over the knife.

"Move the knife back and forth over the stone - three times. First just parts of it, then again across the whole face of the stone.

"No, boy, one whole stroke across - one smooth pass, back and forth."

Wash on, wash off anyone?

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sarabonne said...

sounds like a doll-one doesn't meet people like that too often

Nemo said...

Chassidishe shochtim do it in threes.

Mottel said...

-Sarabonne: Nope. He seems to be one of a kind. People like this need to be held onto with two hands.

-Nemo: That's what he taught us . . . I wasn't clear in writing that over. Thanks for the correction

Cheerio said...

this was cool.. but seemed way, way too short. with an awesome introduction like that, what you gave us was only a taste of a story to come.

sarabonne said...

So you're becoming a shochet now? I'll try not to tell PETA.

Mottel said...

-Cheerio: The lesson was short. If anything interesting happens again - rest assured I'll put it up.

-Sarabonne: I'm becoming one, yes. Please - tell PETA . . . I'll take them on any day.

Sefirah said...

nah. I don't buy it