Part: 2 - b
I got up and looked, and I could not believe my eyes: the sight was so comical. It was the new donkey chasing a dog. Chasing it with its penis fully extended, as long as a man's arm. It ran after the dog and tried to sniff its ass, and the dog ran for its life. The donkey chased the dog and brayed loudly, and the poor dog was unable to evade it. Again and again the donkey stuck its nose to the dog's ass. What a stupid donkey, when its lust was aroused it couldn't even tell the difference between a dog and a bitch - let alone between a dog and an ass. The spectacle was so silly, that I burst in laughter, laughed and laughed and laughed unable to stop. With tears of laughter running down my cheek, I ran after him and caught him by the ear, and while laughing I gave him a few whacks to stop him - and laughed until he stopped, and just stood there ashamed, his giant penis retracting into its sack. The dog escaped, and I remained alone with the donkey, wiping out the tears. And then, as a lightening, it crossed my mind: "Perhaps this is the laughter for which I was destined? Maybe this is why my name was called Isaac? Perhaps also this donkey is a sign that God has sent me?" I thought, "Maybe he will be sent into the journey to rescue me? I should sit on it and see: where it will lead me? Maybe its animal senses know more than my deliberations?"
I sat on the donkey and continued to meditate "Vav... Heh..." and the donkey kept pacing and pacing in the desert of Be'er Sheva, walking towards the hills. I noticed that the donkey was bleeding from its jaw. The scared dog must have bitten him deeply. But he was a donkey, used to bear and to suffer, he does not complain but bear his burden quietly. He is used to carrying everything on its back - from my beloved father to thorns and thistles for the fire. Carrying all on its back! Then it came to me. "Tomorrow I shall myself be like the donkey - I shall pace along with the others on our journey. I shall take part in a journey, the end of which is to sacrifice me. Who is the donkey and who is the man here if I am going to take part in it? In what do I differ from the donkey?"
And I felt a great love for that poor, long suffering beast who bore his material burden as I bore my burdens. Son of an ass! What is the nature of a donkey? That he carries his burden? That he endures suffering? This nature must be signified in the letters of his name. I thought to myself "The word 'donkey' (Hamor - çîåø) is almost the same as the word 'matter' (Homer - çåîø). The letters that make them are the same, only the 'Vav' is in a different place, the 'Vav' that connects. Perhaps this new donkey was formed by father from the soil of the earth and the blood of the old donkey? And I - like the donkey - am made from matter, from the soil that was kneaded in order to form a human body and infuse it with a divine soul. And without matter, without the soil, the soul just does not matter, would continue to hover over the face of the water, not finding a place to land. And when the soul is within matter - she still finds no rest, but uses matter, just as I use the donkey. She drives it and leads it and forms and refines it. How many forms does matter have? Soil, plant, animal, man, the human body. It is the spirit that enlivens and refines matter, and meshes with it. They are mutually dependent, and the spirit that refines matter is surely the spirit of God. For I have heard stories about father and other people who kneed clay and make a Golem out of it, make a man out of it. I do not know whether they are true or not, but I have no doubt that the master of the universe has done so. The whole world is like clay in the hand of the potter. He kneads it and gives it form. The form of a donkey, the form of a man, and we journey together seeking completion."
Then I understood, and the thoughts poured in on me like a flood: "Now I know. Tomorrow he too will come with us - without any doubt - the donkey too. The Angel of Death may or may not come: perhaps he is an imaginary being. I myself may agree to take part in the journey - or I may not. Father may have the courage to accomplish the terrible deed or he may not. Eliezer may feel the weakness of old age, or he may brace himself up. Ishmael may find reason to take part, or he may not. But the donkey! he will be given a command - and he will come. He will carry the wood and all our other material needs. He will carry me if need be. And if he did, then he would be beneath us, below. Of course, the donkey will be the sixth. On our way to God we go together with our material aspects."
How strange, and how funny, that from the donkey I should have to take a lesson. Learn what is opposite to the Angel of Death. I shall have to learn about Life (High - çé) from the animal (Haya - çéä), from the donkey - whereas my wise father, my father and my teacher, who educated me - and Eliezer, who reared me - and my big brother - none of them could advise me. It will be the donkey who will endure and show me why I have to carry such a heavy burden, why I have to suffer so, and why I have to go as a sacrifice for the sake of the others."
"But perhaps it is just the other way around: that I am myself the donkey. I am a real ass - who agrees to become a sacrifice for the sake of the others. The proud Ishmael surely would not agree to such a sacrifice. He thinks that I am only fit to become the tutor for his sons. He must anyway expect from me a reparation for his lost childhood. He would surely agree that I should be sacrificed for his sake. And Eliezer? He tried to train me for pride and for heroic exploits. But would he not be content to see me sacrifice myself, to see me becoming a hero, while he and his sons remain to derive the benefits? All this is pretty clear. But what about father? To whom is he more faithful? To his God, or to me and to himself as a father? This must be the function of this journey - to the Land of Moriah, the Land of Instruction: whatever is now hidden deep within our hearts, and is never mentioned - will now come out into the light. But if the truth comes out that God is a cruel God, who rules an alienated world, a God who has no interest in us, His sons; what benefit to me to inherit from my father and propagate his religion - even if this religion would give power and rulership to me and to my descendants. Better death than life serving this God!"
<revised till here>
"I do not really know who are my friends and who are my enemies. This I shall be able to find during this journey. But I have already learned something: I have a partnership with the donkey, with the material. Matter is not the enemy, and what am I without mater? The knife - if it will slash my throat - may not kill my soul, but it will rent the connection, the Vav, between my soul and my body. And the matter, from which I was made, will return to the soil, when my blood is spilled. There is a continuum between the donkey, who cannot even tell how to satisfy its lust, and the people who are like donkeys, engrossed in their lusts. This is the connection between the native people of the land who do not speak my language, and my adored father, who would not teach them and re-form their souls, And the trainees of our household - who might have been a while ago the soil of the earth, and the slave to the firstborn son, and to me and to father. We are all constituted from the same material and we go on living our lives, drawing the material along with us. And what is the benefit of the animal sacrifices that father performed on several occasions, when he sacrificed rams and goats and pigeons and soaked the earth with their blood? But the word 'sacrificing' (hakrava - ä÷øáä) also means 'bringing near' (hakrava - ä÷øáä). So sacrificing is also bringing near. Like bringing near those who are far, and merging them. Like bringing together the six sides that stand opposite each other. Sacrificing to God is to give up to God, to transform the side that wants to stand apart from God, to be its own end rather than one with God."
"It seems that we have already been going on this journey for years, since father's youth, when he left Ur of the Chaldees, when he left the big city, teaming with people, full of isolators. He did not set out just to find a pasture to tend his flock. The flock came with him, a flock of animals and a flock of humans, who were and are all partners in the journey. And the journey was and is to bring us to a different city, to a whole and perfect city, whose gates we shall enter. What was the name of the big city? Babel, The Gate of God? No. When Father left Ur of the Chaldees, Babel was no longer the gateway city to God. That was why he had to find a new city, in which we could always be connected with God. It was a very long journey and still is, a journey in which there is no knowing if we will arrive at our goal during father's life or even during mine. If we do not arrive, then my children, or my disciples, will have to go on after me, and journey to a city whose name is yet unknown. Who is to say whether we shall reach it tomorrow, or it will take thousands of years? But now I know that the donkey is important for our journey, and it is through him that I have learned that we shall have to bring our material natures, with us inside, to within the gates of the city."
The donkey upon whom I sat continued to trot slowly, and I closed my eyes and trusted him. Then again I saw a vision, "I see myself riding a white donkey, and in the distance, not in the valley but on the mountain, afar, a city stands. A city that touches heaven. I do not understand how, but it sits on the top of the mountain and is connected to heaven. I ride the white donkey and I approach the city. I can see the city gates. There are many gates to the city. People are coming from all directions, streaming towards the city. There are people waiting for me at the gates, as I ride up on my white donkey. 'Save us,' they say, 'Hosanna'. I ride up and enter the gate that opens eastward."
It was a wonderful vision. And I sensed that God sent me the vision as a sign. And I knew that whatever happened to me the next days, whether I lived or died, I would always keep on going, ever coming to the gates of the city, I and my descendants after me, and those who would follow me. And I knew that one day, I on my donkey, or my descendent on theirs, would enter those gates, or would all who follow us, humans and animals, spirit and matter, together.
- This English version was first edited by Abraham Barzely from a literal translation of the Hebrew original. Barzely's version was also edited by Elizabeth Pask. A new Hebrew version was then prepared by Tirtsa Arzi, who consulted these two English versions, and this is a new English translation of this version. (1998)
- (C) All rights reserved to the Hayut Foundation.
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