Page 242 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

Basic HTML Version

234
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
his own ego-involvement in this mission and pathetically asks,
“My God, my God, why hast thou sent me?” Judas Iscariot tries
to dissuade Jesus from entering Jerusalem, knowing that cru­
cifixion awaits him. Jesus, however, aware of this, refuses to
turn back. Judas, motivated by his ideology and his jealousy
o f the others in Jesus’ party, determines to betray Jesus to the
Romans. There is a scene o f harsh repudiation of Jesus by Ju ­
das, who says, “I f it is death you want, death I will give you.”
Yet he still loves Jesus and seeks ultimate peace by hanging
himself. At the last supper, Jesus knows that he will be betrayed
and he welcomes his fate, although he is frightened. He deems
himself a failure. The military efforts of Bar-Abba and the Zeal­
ots fail. Jesus is crucified, and here begins the realm o f Jesus-
legend. Several Roman soldiers take his body, stripping it in
their lust for jewels. Mary Magdalene, who loves Jesus and gave
up a life as a wealthy courtesan to follow him, imagines that
she saw, in a vision, not Romans but angels at the body of Jesus,
and that becomes the truth for later generations.
VIVID NOVEL
A.A. Kabak (1883-1944) has retold in Hebrew the story of
Jesus, under the title
Ba-Mishcol Ha-Tsar
(1937; translated as
The Narrow Path
, 1968).27 He goes further in his adoration of
Jesus than the other writers. The author himself related his
motives for writing the book (see the introduction to the English
edition by B.Y. Michali). He had been very ill and feared he
would die. Then, in the moment o f his greatest loneliness, an
inner voice spoke to him, saying, “and he, and our Father in
Heaven. From Him you have come, with Him you have walked
your life’s path and to Him you are returning.” The voice re­
assured him that he “did not come to the world alone and . . .
will not leave it alone.” Then the author tells us that he met
his God on the narrow path (whence the title of the book) on
the edge of the abyss. It appears, then, that he owes something
27. A.A. Kabak,
Ba-Mishcol Ha-Tsar
(Tel Aviv, 1937);
The Narrow Path,
trans.
by Julian Louis Meltzer (Tel Aviv: Institute for the Translation o f Hebrew
Literature, 1968). For a treatment, see Aharon Ben-Or (Urinovsky),
The
History of Hebrew Literature
(Hebrew), vol. 3 (Tel Aviv, 1950), 168-172 .