Page 236 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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ends with all veils off, his mother’s lips again muttering, “My
Lord, my Lord.” Jesus confesses that he even entertains the
thought of matricide, so upset is he.
However, the violence of his mental state goes even further.
Jesus carries a knife and a hammer. It is with bitter irony that
he says to his fellow Jew, the narrator, “You have never been
a Jesus, you have never hung on a cross . . . you have never
smelt or tasted blood . . . ” This violent Jesus turns to his Father
in Heaven, urging Him not to become excited or afraid: “Why
do You cover Your throat with Your fingers? My knife is drawn
to attack my own. And You, what are You to me — a stranger.
Don’t You know, that when I utter the word, ‘knife’— the throat
has long been slit, and when I pronounce the word, ‘hammer’
— the marrow has already been uncovered, and when I say:
‘the word is no more a word’ — the end has already arrived,
already arrived.”
We must remember the date of the poem, 1918, when the
world had been wallowing four years in blood. Everything has
reversed its nature in the current “Christian” world: the peace­
ful Jesus, who was falsely transformed into a Divine figure, has
now turned into a murderer; his mother, whom Christianity
considers the holy virgin, is a sensualist in the adoration o f her
son; and the Father in Heaven is a totally indifferent stranger.
The traditional symbols of the western Christian world are dis­
torted. Violence is the order of the day; it is ignored by God
and has corrupted even Jesus himself.
Samuel Joseph Agnon (1888-1970) has dealt with the theme
of Jesus in a number of stories. In the tale “The Wonders of
the Shamash of the Old Bet-Midrash” (1925) there is a humor­
ous treatment. The Shamash is troubled at the end of the Sab­
bath by the fact that his
mysteriously keep falling
off. In fright he rushes outside and notices that the church
is lit up. He reports this to a policeman, who responds with
anti-Semitic hatred and makes his way to the tavern, which is
owned by a Jew. However, a Christian official overhears the
conversation and summons the policeman to the illuminated
church. They see what they believe to be a Jew, wearing a
and a compassionate smile on his lips. Believing he