Page 47 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

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HALKIN / THE CASE OF THE IMPOSSIBLE MOONS
35
of mythology the moon is a feminine symbol, often a female
deity, and it is, as we have seen, what Naomi Kaminka glimpses as
she erupts into her mad fantasy of “Godina, Queen of the Uni­
verse.” Throughout the final chapter of the novel, on the other
hand, Yehuda Kaminka has been imagistically identified with the
“masculine” sun: a shaft of its light wakes him that morning and,
in the course of the day — the last of his life — he is continuously
aware of its passage across the sky until its final setting. (At one
point he storms through his daughter Ya’el’s darkened house,
where he has stayed for the Seder, flinging open the curtains to
let in the sunlight and to awaken his sleeping homosexual — i.e.,
emasculated — son Tsvi.) Thus, poised against each other in the
evening sky, setting and rising simultaneously on the night after
the Seder, the holiday meal commemorating the redemption of
Israel by the Sky-Lord Jehovah who has taken his people out of
Egypt “on eagle’s wings,” sun and moon are the natural symbols
with which Yehoshua seals his novel, encrypted in whose realistic
text is a second, hermeneutical reading of psycho-mythic, one
might almost say kabbalistic, daring.
OZ’S NOVEL
Yonatan Lifshitz, the character in Amos Oz’s
A Perfect Peace
who sees the “sickly” moon surrounded by olive trees “as though
it were a pale Jewish fiddler caught in a ring of rough peasants
somewhere in the distant lands of Eastern Europe” is a taciturn
kibbutznik in his late twenties who, besides being a well-
delineated character in his own right, is clearly meant to repre­
sent a whole generation of Israelis, the sons of the country’s
founding fathers (Yonatan’s own parents were among the first
members of the kibbutz on which he lives) for whom the struggle
to create a Jewish state is but a childhood memory. He has many
of the virtues of the stereotypic sabra: physical strength, military
courage, great practical competence, and an innate distrust of all
pretension and high-flownness that sometimes comes out in a
mocking sense of humor. He has many of the sabra’s shortcom­
ings too: an unimaginative temperament, a strong streak of anti-
intellectualism, an inability to express or even talk about emotion,
and a gruff, cynical exterior that is obviously a defense thrown up
around a pathetically love-starved and vulnerable inner self. And
he is deeply unhappy: with his wife Rimona, a strangely passive,