Page 235 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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WALDMAN /GLIMPSES OF JESUS IN YIDDISH AND HEBREW LITERATURE
227
Jesus, he tells him: “In the Holy Land you will meet a new
Sanhedrin,/dressed in new, blue tallitot./They will lead you to
the bank o f the Jordan/ to be immersed in its holy waters/ so
that your wounds may be healed/ and your tear-filled eyes light
up.”15
Written in another vein is a poem in Yiddish by H. Leivick
(Leivick Halpern; 1886-1962) entitled
Er
(“He”), 1918.16 This
signifies Jesus, whom pious Jews never mentioned by name but
referred to as
oto ha-ish
(that man). A very disturbed Jesus comes
to pour out his heart before a fellow Jew, the first person nar­
rator o f the poem. Jesus wonders, is not the crown of thorns
his true reward, are not need and poverty his authentic dream?
Why, then, does he have a crown of diamonds? The narrator
agrees, saying, “Basement insects eat your skin, yet they have
built for you temples . . . Across the seas and continents they
have spread your fame — So good, let it be thus.” Jesus, how­
ever, responds that his fame has left him sleepless, and that
all he wants is a hard threshold upon which to lay his head.
The narrator observes, however, that Jesus is very upset: a hys­
terical smile plays across his lips, and his fingers, with their ne­
glected fingernails, begin to convulse silently.
What disturbs the Jesus of this poem most is his association
with wealth and with sensuality, expressed in the passionate love
of his mother. He hates to be reminded of how she kissed him,
racked and broken on the cross, with “hot passionate lips.” The
sensuous deification o f the son by the mother is further describ­
ed as she looks heavenward with hands folded on her breast.
She then kneels before him, kisses his feet and repeats, “My
Lord, my Lord.” With all his might, Jesus holds himself back
from kicking her Madonna-head in hatred. “She is indeed my
mother . . . and I am indeed her son, her son, and not a Lord.”
Jesus finds himself lying on cushions, surrounded by incense
and tapers. His mother then dances around him, her hands
outstretched, “her thin veils, like light feathers, loose, spread
out and cover her nakedness once again.” Finally, the dance
15.
Kitve Zalman Shneour,
2 vols. (Tel Aviv: Dvir, 1966), vol 1, 103-105. The
place o f writing is given as Berlin but there is no date. The Hebrew version
of the name is Don Henraikes; see Moshe Spiegel,
Restless Spirit: Selected
Writings of Zalman Shneour
(New York and London: Yoseloff, 1963),
306-312 .
16.
Complete Works of H . Leivick
(Yiddish), vol. 1 (New York, 1940), 151-157.