Page 60 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
and ano the r ep ig raph from a twelfth-century bestiary may ex­
plain the Jewish fascination with compassionate horses: “Only
the horse can cry for man. This is because in the cen tau r the
n a tu re o f the man and the na tu re o f the horse are combined .”
(Add flying to crying and we may unde rs tand the importance
o f Pegasus to the Jewish imagination.)
SCLIAR’S FANTASY
With Baron Hirsch’s support, the Tartakovsky family left Rus­
sia to settle in Brazil. In 1935 a winged horse descends on their
farm , impregna ting the pro tagonist’s m o ther who screams in
Yiddish du r ing the delivery. Guedali (the name o f one o f Ba­
bel’s characters) is later circumcised, has a bar mitzvah, and
grows up as a good Jewish-Brazilian cen tau r in Scliar’s myth­
ological fantasy, mixing pathos and comedy. A fter an operation
Guedali re tu rn s to normal, and the novel concludes: “Like the
winged horse, about to take flight toward the mountains o f e te r­
nal joy, the bosom o f Abraham . Like a horse, hooves dancing
ready to gallop across the pampas. Like a cen tau r in the garden ,
ready to jum p the wall in search o f freedom .” A composite,
hyphena ted creature , Pegasus soars over walls and borders
across the Diaspora’s racetracks and flight paths.
Also in the twentieth-century Jewish stable is Jack Ludwig’s
horse Malkeh who appears in “Requiem for Bibul,” which won
an “Atlantic First” award in
The Atlantic Monthly.
Ludwig bo r­
rows from Cervantes, Mendele, and Sholom Aleichem in his
spirited account o f a fru it pedd ler, Bibul. “As grim as Don Qu i­
xote’s Rosinante would look next to elegant Pegasus, th a t’s how
Malkeh would have looked next to Rosinante.” Like Mendele’s
fallen Prince, Malkeh is a fallen queen, submarginal and
subproletariat in a hierarchy o f horses. In the race against Peg­
asus the nag is always the unde rdog bu rdened with memory,
nostalgia, and nightmare.
Only in Mark H e lp r in ’s “A Dove o f the East” do we find
an example o f a skilled Jewish equestrian, Leon Orlovsky, a
French Jew who comes to Israel af te r the Second World War.
A survivor, Leon needs a release th rough galloping his horse
on the Golan Heights ju s t for the sake o f galloping: “cavalry,
ano the r fine and useless ar t he had inherited from the past,
pa r t o f his world which had vanished.” His useless cavalry