Page 66 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 27

Basic HTML Version

e w i s h
o o k
n n u a l
to the griefs of the past, and his day-to-day existence in the re
of normalcy is flat, joyless, routinized.
In a period of severe depression, Gregor makes a pilgrim
like visit to a hasidic synagogue in Williamsburg. The men
enviously observes there are so open and happy that they see
flow out of themselves with spontaneous singing and danc
They have no need to wait for the Messiah; a thousand tim
day they bring him down to earth with their joyous immer
in the present, in the moment. In their fervor they body f
the possibilities of a life style that heretofore, given his experie
during the Holocaust, Gregor had considered inappropriate.
But how does one attain fervor? Gregor wonders. The has
rabbi of the synagogue responds to this question: get out of
solitary self; cease being in love with suffering; become one,
ously and in trust, with others. What is the meaning of hu
suffering? Gregor further interrogates the rabbi. The latter re
that suffering is God’s way of testing man. “ For suffering cont
the secret of creation and its dimension of eternity; it can
pierced only from the inside . . . At the end of suffering, of myst
God awaits us.” Suffering as a trial —was this the meaning,
explanation, he had been searching for? Gregor wonders.
The asking of this question marks a
a turning, in
search for redemption. Soon after his meeting with the ra
Gregor recites
in the hasidic synagogue. A yeshiva
invites him to join a
which is to say, symbolically,
the child within the adult directs the latter back to the sourc
his childhood faith in God, a synagogue; [significantly, to
synagogue is also the setting for the opening pages of the
] .
The Perspective of Place as Sym
Here it may be instructive to recall the central setting of
preceding novels. The concentration camp in the middle
ending sections of
is followed by the secret headquar
and cellar execution chamber of the terrorist fighters in
The Accident
takes place in a hospital. Much of
The Town Bey
the Wall
occurs in a jail. These changing locations in the
four novels are as so many signposts for charting the stages of
Wieselean hero’s journey. He survives the camps and is libera
But in going underground with the terrorist movement, h
again immolated, this time in an inner prison of self-hatred
becoming the executioner. In
The Accident,
at the bottom of
despair, he invites an accident, as though to precipitate and
front the question of whether to choose life or death. Follo
his physical and spiritual convalesence in the hospital, he