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.
"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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