Page 96 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 28

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J
e w i s h
B
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A
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wasted in the lands of exile. When he falls in love with the Ar-
menian girl, Anahit, and saves her and her family by killing their
Turkish oppressor, he sees in his beloved a figure to be idolized.
Later he falls into total despair when Anahit decides to choose
another man.
An unhappy marriage with Viruggia aggravates his desolate
condition. He gives up his ideals and his belief in God. Only the
death of his parents provides the shock which makes him begin
life anew, initiated by his
aliyah
to Jerusalem to repair the walls
of his belief and to renew his pact with God. Jerusalem of those
days, with its poor and dejected community, is a disappointment
to him. He had expected to find Jews unlike those he despised
in Anatolia. Again a woman of noble character and great beauty,
the childless Diamanti, who reminds him vividly of Anahit, be-
comes the object of his worship. He establishes in Jerusalem a
Jewish self-defense organization called
Magen David.
The hero
from the Anatolia mountains tries again to save his people, to
do justice, and to cleanse his soul. But his love, as almost all loves
in Burla’s novels, ends in tragedy and disaster: Diamanti loses
her mind, and with her goes Akavia’s last chance for redemption.
A lilo t Akavia
brought Burla in 1939 the Bialik Prize of the Tel
Aviv Municipality. Four years earlier he won the Bialik Prize
of Mosad Bialik, Jerusalem, for his novel,
Bekdushah O be-Ahavah.
This is the story about the Sephardic rabbi Yaakov Hai
and his wife, Bussa Rivkah, who for fifteen years are childless. The
rabbi is persuaded to take a second wife, Sultana, to bring him
issue. Bussa Rivkah goes through the tortures of jealousy, bu t
then accepts her fate as the will of God. With great psychological
insight Burla describes her soul's inner storms and the great peace
that comes with her resignation to God's mandate.
Bussa Rivkah is one of the “ideal” women in a long gallery
of Burla’s women of the Orient. Whether the wife of a rabbi, the
daughter of a poor Sephardic widow of noble lineage, or the child
of Bedouin parents, they all have in common humility, constancy
and devotion to the last breath, and a boundless belief in the
mystique of love and the implacable sovereignty of fate. They
consider their men as the crown of creation, and their own place
in the home as subservient to their husbands. At the same time,
they show admirable tenacity and a readiness to sacrifice all when-
ever their role is threatened by disruptive external forces. Theirs
is a sublime love transcending mundane passion, a strange com-
mixture of mystical feelings, spiritual immersion, poetic moods,
tradition and Kabbalah.
Burla’s Historical Novel
Over thirty years ago Yehuda Burla began his historical novel,