by Luise Rinser
In the circles of scribes and priests they began to wonder where this man, this carpenterís son from the provincial town of Nazareth, got such confidence, such sharp understanding, knowledge of the scripture and cleverness in speaking. He talks as though he has a mandate and authority. Who stands behind him? Who protects him? Or: who instigates him? Which party? Or even the Romans? Or the Essenes? Or does he really imagine himself to be a prophet like Yeshayahu or Jeremiah? Or (the Pharisees said) who knows, perhaps he really is the Baptist returned, as Herod fears and screams in his insanity. Maybe he wasnít really murdered. But the Baptist baptized, this Yeshua doesnít baptize, and he doesnít fast like the other one; he is, one could say, a glutton and drinker, and he has women as disciples, something the Baptist would never have tolerated. However: he and his followers donít marry and donít procreate, and they have no property. And they talk, like the Baptist, of the nearness of the end of time. Is this Nazarene harmless or is he dangerous? And dangerous for whom: the Romans, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, Herod and the other rulers, the property owners, the rich merchants? He has many followers, too many, they come from far and wide to hear his sermons and, it must be admitted, he preaches well. Very well. Often shadowy and with double meanings, to be sure. Or not. Sometimes he is very clear and aims sharply at the palpable.
Yehuda, who had his eyes and ears everywhere, brought us all this. And where he didnít have them, his scouts did.††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
When are we finally leaving, Rabbi?
Weíll leave right after the Feast of the Tabernacles. When we saw Yerushalayim for the last time, Yeshua stood still.
Yerushalayim, Yerushalayim, it wonít be long before your walls fall down, your temple will become a sheep pen, your courts rubble.
What are you saying, Rabbi?
You heard me. Letís go!
Our wandering was pleasant, and Yeshua seemed cheerful, many people listened to his sermons, and more than twenty joined us, and that our life was rough, that we often had only bread, water and a piece of dried fish and wild berries, that we never knew where we would be sleeping and it was mostly in caves and sheep-pens, that Yeshua often ordered us to be silent for long periods, that we wandered in rain as well as sunshine, in short: that life with Yeshua was very strenuous, didnít put them off.
A few weeks later we came again to Galilee, near Mount Tabor.
We all remembered this mount: it rose up from the plain high and naked and lonely and rounded as though formed by human hands. Here the great battle between our forefathers and the Canaanites took place. Equipped with battlewagons, they pressed Yisrael hard for twenty years. It was the time when a woman, Deborah, was judge in Yisrael. The men took her advice, for she was clever. She decided that the Yisraelites, instead of staying on the defensive, should finally go on the attack. She accompanied the army to Mount Tabor, where the enemy was camped. At the foot of the mount the armies clashed, the enemy was destroyed. A woman named Jael killed their fleeing leaders. A terrible story, true and real. A sinister mountain, even though it proclaimed Yisraelís victory. It never occurred to us to climb it. But Yeshua now said: I want to climb up.
We were astonished.
Yeshua said: Donít you know Deborahís victory song? Listen then: ďIn the days of Shamgar and Jael, caravans ceased and travelers kept to the byways. The free people disappeared, before you arose, Deborah, arose as a mother in Yisrael. My heart goes out to the commanders of Yisrael who offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless the Lord. Tell of it, you who ride on white donkeys, to the sound of musicians at the watering places. There they praise the victory of the Lord, the free people of Yisrael. Awake, awake, then, Deborah! Sing thy song!Ē
He bent over and picked up a handful of earth. Blood-soaked earth, he said. We walk over fields of cadavers and buried weapons, and rejoice over illicit victories.
But Rabbi, we had to defend ourselves, and we suffered defeat often enough.
Victory and defeat, equally illicit. You shall not kill. Not in defense, not in attack. Moshe has the commandment engraved in stone. In vain! You murderers! He covered his face with the hem of his cloak. We were deeply distressed.
Rabbi, why do you lay the sins of our forefather on us? Are we scapegoats?
Do you except yourselves? Are you not sons and daughters of Yisrael? Are you not heirs? Does the heir inherit only the gold and not the debts? You are in destiny until it is played out.
When will that be?
At the end of this time.
And when will the end come?
When destiny has played itself out.
But you, Rabbi, you are also an heir of Yisrael.
I am the scapegoat.
Another riddle. The solution wasnít given. We went on.
Up there, Rabbi?
If itís too far for you, stay here.
We were tired.
I said: But we canít leave the rabbi alone. Come Shimon, and you, Yochanan, letís go with him.
Yeshua climbed very fast.
When we got to just under the summit, we saw a white light above us, that blinded us, and upon getting nearer we saw that it had a form and that form was Yeshua.
He had become light.
I had seen that previously, but Shimon and Yochanan fell on their knees from fright, and I also trembled.
Today I know what happened then: the transformation of his earthly body into spirit. It was the anticipation. The anticipation of his and our transformation into what we all are: Children of the Light, Children of the eternal Spirit.
We couldnít go a step farther, as though a fence had been built there. Se we waited and watched, until the light finally went out. At the end it stayed a while on the top of his head. It could have been taken for a white bird or a large blossom. Then it was over and Yeshua came down. I saw that the light was still in his eyes.
Rabbi! I called. I could say no more.
But he said: Who allowed you to follow me?
Shimon said: Miryam was worried about leaving you alone. So she took us with her.
Yeshua said: Be silent about what you have seen. Be silent until the hour of fulfillment.
Yochanan said: When Moshe came down from Mount Sinai, after he had been with Adonai for forty days and received the Commandments, his face shined, as it is written, and the people were afraid.
I thought: The Almighty was a flaming fire then, as is written. But we saw no such fire, we saw a white light, and it caused no fear.
Shimon said: Rabbi, let us stay here and build huts. This is holy ground.
Yeshua said: Holy ground is everywhere. This ground here, where you want to stay, is no place; and the Now, that you want to preserve, is no time.
We were silent about what we had seen and heard until after Yeshuaís death and transformation. To tell the truth: we forgot it, as though its memory were forbidden. What I didnít forget was the story about that Deborah.
Rabbi, it is forbidden to kill. But Deborah called for a bloody battle, Jael killed, Yehudit killed and she did it for Yisrael, and she did it with a prayer on her lips: ďAll powerful Lord! Look now down at the deeds of my hands for Yisraelís exaltation.Ē And then she cut off Holoferne the Assyrianís head while he slept, drunk, and brought it in a sack to Betyla and cried: Open the gate, the Almighty is with us! And she showed them the bloody head. She was praised and honored for it. Rabbi, was she guilty before the Almighty?
The commandment ďThou shalt not killĒ was also valid for her.
Rabbi, the Almighty himself kills! When he led our fathers out of Egypt, he created a ford through the sea for them. When the Egyptians followed he let the flood kill them. Then a woman stood up, Miryam by name, Aharonís sister, and she called all the women together and led them with kettledrums, and they danced, and Miryam sang: ďSing to the Almighty, for he threw them all, horse and rider, into the sea.Ē Miryam sang for the enemiesí death, she sang the Almightyís act of murder.
Wouldnít you cry in triumph if the Romans were defeated?
I lowered my head.
He said: Be the other Miryam, the one who weeps over the death of every other. Far is the path which Yisrael traveled, and still farther the one it has yet to travel. It used violence and it suffered violence. It will use violence and will atone terribly for it. Many will be killed, if they kill. The survivors will be hunted down and scattered over the earth. You, Miryam, will experience it. But the victors will not enjoy their victory either. They also will be conquered and nothing will remain of their empire and their power. No victory lasts, no war brings freedom.
But how shall Yisrael be free without fighting, Rabbi?
He wrapped his cloak tightly around him and walked away. When he returned late that night he looked like someone who had fallen victim to robbers. He also limped.
What happened to you, Rabbi?
He didnít answer.
A few days later I found out what had happened.
Rabbi, I dared to say, you are suffering.
Yes, I am suffering.
You suffer in a special way. When you came back late recently you looked as though you had been in a fight.
You saw rightly.
And who was your opponent?
One never has another opponent than oneís self.
Explain that, please.
I dream hard dreams, Miryam. It is always the same dream. Itís the one I dreamed that time in the desert, after my long fast.
Tell it to me.†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
I looked over the desert and saw Yisraelís dire situation in many forms, and I began to quarrel with the Almighty: Why donít you intervene, donít you see how your people are up to their necks in misery, how long will you wait, or have you deserted your people, broken the testament, cast out your son? As I lay there in the sand I heard a voice. Why do you wail like a child for his father? Why donít you do what the Father denies? Are you not the heir to power? Try out your power: throw yourself into the air, it will carry you. Produce a sign: make bread from these stones, so that no child of Yisrael will be hungry again. Strike water from these rocks, so that none is thirsty on the dusty roads. Get up! Up! And then make daggers from the vintage knives and swords from the plowshares and rise up against Yisraelís enemies, you will win for you are strong. Then you will enter Yerushalayim mounted on horseback, and they will make you king and you will make the land rich and the people happy.
Why are you trembling, Rabbi? Isnít your dream good?
You donít understand! It is evil, completely false! You donít know who spoke to me.
Yourself. Didnít you say so?
Myself. One against one. When two of equal strength fight against each other, who will win?
With that he left me.
As his footsteps were lost in the night, I heard others. Someone had been listening: Yehuda.
Miryam, there is hope after all. Will he do what Yisrael expects of him?
Leave me alone. As you were an uninvited listener you must have heard what the Rabbi said: the dream is false and evil. Why donít you stop tempting him?
I am the voice of Yisrael, its cry for help. Donít you understand that? Donít you understand who he is?
Who is he?
He who can liberate Yisrael.
Now I think that Yeshua was the only one of us who considered Yeshua to be the Messiah and himself to be destinyís messenger, who could not be silent until the message was heard. How he was consumed by his faith, how he was absorbed in his burning hope, and how he misunderstood everything and became the tempter and unknowingly sought to thwart the world-plan!
Yeshua never mentioned his dream again. Not only didnít he speak of it, it seemed that it didnít return. When we wandered on he seemed cheerful, but I couldnít guess what went on inside him.††
Once we say a dead dog on our way, decomposing and stinking. Yochanan walked around it holding his nose. But Yeshua leaned over the dog and said. What beautiful teeth he has.
Yehuda said. They are no use to him anymore. Teeth without a dog are as superfluous as a dog without teeth.
The remark was puzzling, but none of us asked what he meant. But Yeshua said, and he said it to us all: Why are you disgusted. There must be transformation. What is earthly returns home to earth. What is spiritual returns home to spirit†††††††
I had it on my tongue to ask: Is a dog only earthly? What is it that makes it alive? Isnít it the breath of the Almighty? What I said, though, was this: When I was small I had a dog, I loved him very much and he loved me.
Yeshua said, and very seriously, as though he had been waiting for the opportunity: Where love is, there is the mark of the spirit.
Shimon said: Rabbi, you and Yochanan and Miryam talk so much of the spirit. What is it anyway: the spirit?
Yeshua answered: Noting else but the primal energy, the infinite sympathy. You can call it love.†††††††††††
As always, Yeshua took this conversation as occasion for the basis of a sermon. It began like a question and answer session in the synagogue school.
Do you know the ten commandments?
Of course. What Jew doesnít know them? We called them out all in a jumble: You shall have no god except me. You shall not take my name in vain with false oaths. You shall observe the Shabbat. You shall not lie, steal, kill, commit adultery, bear false witnessÖ
He let us talk until we were talked out. Then he said: You have forgotten one commandment. Which is the most important?
When we started to talk again, he told us to be silent, and when all was still he said:
So spoke Moshe: ďHear Yisrael! You shall love the Almighty, your Lord, love him with you whole heart and soul and strength. Keep these words in your heart. Teach then to your children. Speak of them when you sit in your homes and when you are on your way, when you go to bed and when you get up. Tie them on your wrists and bind them between your eyes. Write them on the gates of your houses.Ē Thus spoke Moshe, thus the Almighty spoke to him. But how does one love the Almighty? Moshe also said: One loves the Almighty when one follows his rules. Yisrael has been given six hundred and thirteen rules over the centuries. It must keep six hundred and thirteen rules. I say to you: to keep six hundred and thirteen rules is loyalty to the law and righteousness, but it is not love. How then does one love the Almighty? One loves him in oneís neighbor. But the Almighty said this to Moshe. Who knows what the Almighty told him?
Yochanan said: All the commandments are commandments of love: Thou shalt not steal, not lie, not slander, not kill, because you should love.
It is written that you should not oppress or steal from your neighbor: you should not keep your daily wage until tomorrow.
Yehuda called that out.
It is also written that you should not abuse a deaf person and put no obstacle in the path of a blind person, someone said.
Furthermore it is written: You shall not harvest your whole field and vineyard, but leave something for the poor to glean.
It is written: Commit no injustice in your decisions, favor no party, neither for the rich nor the poor only because they are poor and powerless, but judge only according to righteousness: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, for everyone.
It is written: After seven years free your brother from his debt. You may pressure a foreigner, not a tribal brother. If a tribal brother come to you and asks you for something, give it to him. If a tribal brother sells himself to you as a slave, free him after seven years, for you were also a slave in Egypt until the Almighty bought your freedom.
Is that all you know? Must I hack it from your memories with a pick and shovel? Shimon, is nothing else written?
Do nothing to anyone which you would not have done unto you.
More! Yehuda, you!
Why me? Am I a scholar?
Yehuda, what is written about revengefulness?
Well, what then. Do you mean this: Donít hate your brother in your heart?
More! Say it loudly so all can hear!
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
Now, however, listen Yisrael! I say to you: Even the heathens do that. They do good to those they love. They take in he who is of their own tribe. You though, you should love your enemies! Yes, you heard right. You should love your enemies. To him who strikes you on the left cheek, you should offer him the right one too.
Yehuda sprang up: Rabbi, what are you saying?
Sit down, Yehuda, and listen: You said it is written that one should only judge according to righteousness. But I say to you that you should not judge at all. You should acquit, so that you will also be acquitted. You said it is written: Take in the tribal brother and give to him abundantly. But I say to you: Take in everyone who knocks on your door and is in need, even if he is your enemy, then you will also be taken in when you knock on the door that I can open. You said it is written: Free your slaves when they have served you for seven years. I say to you: Make no person your slave, for all are freeborn children of the Almighty and therefore brothers and sisters.††††††††
But that brought about another shout: All fine and good, but whatís that supposed to mean, love our enemies. Yisraelís enemies are Adonaiís enemies. Are we to love the Almightyís enemies? Should we love the Romans? Be pals with them, work together with them? Embrace Herod? Let the rich stay rich? Let the oppressed stay oppressed? Patch up old garments? Is that whatís meant?
Even Philippos, the silent, cried out: But the Essenes urge that we hate the Children of Darkness. Donít you allow that either?†
No, Yeshua said, I donít allow that either.
An old man came forward and said:
Rabbi, your teaching sounds fine. But to follow it means: continue to be still and await the Messiah, and we have lived that way since the great unrest under the Maccabees. We have become cowards under the knife. Should the sheep also love the butcher?
He turned to the people: Have our hearts taken on rust? Have our teeth† become stumps? Love our enemies, that means: leave Yisrael to the Romans forever without a struggle, deliver Adonaiís people to the heathens. Shame for Yisrael!
Someone cried out: This Rabbi Yeshua, the Galilean, is a traitor. He speaks for the Romans!
Yehuda jumped up and ran at him: Slanderer! You will pay for that.
A scuffle almost started.
But the old man said: Rabbi, he is one of your own. Look how far your disciples† have come with loving their enemies.
Another called out: So we are to live forever under Roman rule? Or do you think they will go away on their own? Or do you think a military power like the Romans can be convinced to leave through prayers or like clucking chickens from the garden? Get off it. Nonsense!
Another: This rabbi is like one who wants to roast and eat a lamb without killing it. Heís a dreamer and his teaching is only good for weaklings and women.
That got me. Now it was I who sprang forward and yelled: Liar! As if Yisrael hasnít been saved by a woman more than once when the men failed. Forgotten, lied away!
Talk, quarreling, yelling, tumult.
Yeshua stood there, looked at the crowd and was silent. Suddenly though, his silence was heard by all, as though he had screamed. Shimon said afterwards that it was like that time at sea, when wind and waves lay still when the rabbi silently stretched his hand out over the water.
When it was completely quiet, Yeshua said: Youíre right. Yisrael has slept too long. I have come to awaken it and blow into the smoldering fire in order that it flame high and consume everything superfluous, dried out and dead, and all the peoples of the earth should gather round this fire, and the lamb will lie down with the lion, and man will no longer be a wolf to other men, but a friend and brother.
Yes, yes, some said, but thatís a long way off and has nothing to do with us. Talk to us about whatís here and now and what peace means here an now and how itís to be accomplished as long as Rome hovers over Yisrael like a lion over its prey.
Yeshua answered: I told you, but you are deaf. Iíll tell you again with different words. Question: Which is stronger, rock or water? Water, for it undermines the rock and crushes it to sand.
Yes, Yehuda said, but for that the water needs thousands and thousands of years.
Yeshua answered: Who attacks, he who is sure of himself or he who is afraid to be attacked? Which is stronger, he who is afraid and attacks, or the fearless one who doesnít even consider an attack to be an attack? Not attacking and not hitting back: that is true strength. To strike back means feeling weak and being afraid of the opponent. Not to use weapons means disarming the opponent.
The old man came forward again. We want peace, but before peace can come we must be a free people. We will be a free people when the Romans leave our country. The Romans will leave only when we force them to. To force them to leave means fighting them, and fighting means using weapons. Or do you know another way?
Listen friend: Rome is strong as a military power, Yisrael is strong as a spiritual power. Which has permanence: worldly or spiritual power? Water can defeat rock, not the other way around. It is up to you, Yisrael, to survive or destroy yourself. But you donít listen to me. You have never listened to your prophets.
He drew his cloak around him and walked away. We followed him. It was quiet behind him for a while, then the tumult broke out anew. We heard it for a long while, until finally it sounded more like sea spray in our ears.†††††††††††††
That evening we talked about it.
I dared to challenge the rabbi.
Rabbi, you say that you bring peace. Well, you see what you really bring: conflict. You have made many enemies.
Yes, Yehuda said, too many and unnecessarily. Your words, Rabbi, are salt in Yisraelís wounds. Donít you see how ashamed we are of our cowardice? How our pride rebels? And you say: be patient like the sheep, persevering like the water. You canít reach the people that way.
I said: Yehuda is right. One year is a long time for those who are hungry and serve as slaves. Rabbi, to be blunt: When will the water topple the rocks?
What do you mean: now?
When our fathers suffered in the desert because of the snake plague, Moshe bent a bar of iron into the form of a snake and tied it to a beam of wood. Whoever looked up at that snake was cured of snakebite. Immediately cured. Immediately!
Rabbi, Yehuda said, what you say is unintelligible. On one hand you demand waiting for a distant future, and then you talk of here and now. Which is it? Speak plainly!
Instead of him, Yochanan answered: How you take the world in which we live to be the whole world, Yehuda! How you take the short time in which we live to be time itself! It depends on us to make the future into the present. The kingdom of peace is in us, here and now.
Knock it off, Yehuda screamed, donít give is that talk again about the kingdom of spirit. Come down and put you feet on the ground, you half-Greek, you philosopher. Can you free a slave of debt with your pretty words? One must do, not talk! Rabbi, speak! Undo the knot youíve tied in our brains.
Yeshua had listened silently. Then he said: Whoever is not born again from the spirit will always do the wrong thing, even when he thinks it is right. Whoever makes contact with the enemy is attacked by the enemy. Whoever loves lives already here and now in the kingdom of peace. That is the solution to all questions.
Then he fell silent, and as he sat there and looked at us, one after the other, something emitted from him that untied the knots in us.
Shimon said: Rabbi, you have the words of life.
But Yehuda mumbled: He unties the knot, yes, but then you have the threads in your hand and he entangles you in them and you fall into a spider web. Iím going to bed.
I said: Rabbi, your strides are too big. Have patience with us. You expect too much of us.
Yeshua said: You are tormenting your own brains. Tomorrow is today, the distant is here. Love, and you are already living in the new Aion.††††††††††††
It happened that I was alone with him for a few moments.
Rabbi, I think that Iíve learned something new.
And what is that, my clever pupil?
I learned what you didnít say. You said that we must love our enemies as friends, but you didnít say how that is done.
Do you know?
Itís not a matter of will. Ití has to do with the great knowledge.
How should I say it. I donít have the right words. Itís as if I had to tell an important message in a foreign language, but didnít know the language well.
You say love thine enemy. But do enemies even exist? I mean that one is not an enemy from the start. You become one. But why? From fear, greed, envy, jealousy. From all these things one makes oneself into an enemy, just as our fathers in the desert made idols even though they knew there is only one Eternal One.
Now it gets difficult. There is only one Eternal One, that much is clear. But when I say there is only one humanity, that isnít so clear.
Miryam, it is extraordinarily clear.
Not to me though, Rabbi; I say something that occurred to me like a flash, then went away in a flash. Tell me what I said means.
How did the Almighty create man? He let the image of man which he carried inside come out and become reality in the world, and he breathed life into him. Which life? There is only one: His. Thatís what man became and what every human being becomes, and everyone is equally divine spirit in earthly form; the Almighty lives in each individual. How can you spit in the Almightyís face, how can you strike the Almighty, how can you want to kill the Almighty? That, Miryam, is what you call high knowledge. In fact, it is not the Law which can rule human community. Itís not fear of punishment which prevents the killing of life and the soul. Only the knowledge of the unity of everything that lives creates the kingdom of peace. Tell the others! Tell it to all! Say it a thousand times a thousand times. This is the mission I give to you: Teach the unity of all life, teach love.
While he had said this he placed both his hands on the top of my head.
Rabbi, I said: ďPut me like a seal on your arm, press me like† seal on your heart. A flood of water cannot extinguish love, and storms donít wash it away. For love is as strong as death.Ē
He recognized the words from the Song of Songs. Of course he knew them. Therefore he answered: ďWho is this who climbs up from the plain, supported by the lover?Ē Go on, Miryam.
ďMy lover was gone, I looked for him, but I didnít find him. The watchmen found me on their rounds of the city, they struck and wounded me, the watchmen of the wall took away my cloak.Ē
Yeshua continued: ďThen they will ask you: Where has your lover gone? We will look for him with you.Ē Where did they find him, Miryam? Keep these words in your heart. Listen: ďThey found the lover in the gardenĒ You donít understand. How could you understand that. One day you will remember this moment and this conversation. Go to sleep now.
It was all very strange and confusing to me. Too much new knowledge, too much joy, too much mission, too much dark prophesying.
As I walked away I said: You expect too much. I would have liked to turn back and say to him: You donít know how much I love you. But such words forbade themselves, and they were too weak.†
Before we set out the next morning a visitor came: the old man who had contradicted Yeshua. I didnít sleep all night, he said. Rabbi, even if youíre not the Messiah, you are still very great. Allow me to love you like a son. And perhaps one day you can count me among your disciples.
Yeshua embraced him.
And this for the journey. Take it as if it had been given to you by your father. It is all from my small farm.
He left us, wrapped in a bundle, flat bread, a skin of wine, olives and little sweet cakes. So we had food for a few days, and we ate it almost ceremonially.
We had planned to be at home for Yom Kippur, or rather (for which of us still had a real home?) at the Sea of Kineret. But Yeshua was stopped too often and he patiently answered all the questions, and willingly preached, and happily spoke with the children, so our progress was slow. We celebrated Yom Kippur underway, and it was already the middle of December when we finally arrived in Kerfarnachum. Shimonís wife ran up to Yeshua, to him, not to Shimon, and said something more important that a greeting: Rabbi, my mother is dying, the fever is consuming her. Come and help!
So Yeshua, tired from the trip, went in to the sick womanís bed. What does she have?
We donít know. She talks nonsense in her fever. Sheís been like this for days.
He sat on the bed and felt her pulse. Feel it, Miryam!
Her pulse rushed and came in jumps like her breathing.
I said: If we put cold wet compresses on her legs the fever will go down.
Sit there in the corner and be quiet. Donít let anyone in. If I can get her over the crisisÖ
Suddenly the gasping ceased. She died, I thought, and felt neither disappointment nor relief. But she wasnít at all dead. She began to cough and spit out phlegm, to wherever it landed. As soon as she could speak, she said: Where are Shimon and Andrew? Where are they wandering about while their old mother is dying?
Yeshua said: Youíre not dying, youíre cured.
Oh, itís you! she said, you who my sons follow. Bring them back to me! They left me alone, abandoned the work. They donít even produce grandchildren for me. Shimon has been married a whole year and nothing happens. Shame on our house! And you donít have a wife and child yourself. What kind of men are you? And why is she with you?
She pointed at me.
Yeshua told us later that he told her: When you are abusive your lungs fill with phlegm and you must die.
We all laughed.
I went outside, The family was in the courtyard, also the professional mourners were already there and ready to cry as soon as the signal was given.
Is she dead?
On the contrary: The rabbi has cured her. Bring her something to drink. Then I went to look for Shimon and Andrew. They were squatting against the garden wall asleep.
Hey, Shimon, Andrew!
They jumped to their feet. Is she dead?
The rabbi cured her.
So, Shimon said, cured. WellÖ
You should go in to her.
Did the rabbi say that?
No, she did.
Then say you couldnít find us.
You donít know her. Whenever she opens her mouth, she nags.
Thatís true, I said, but go in anyway. She belongs to your family after all..
Yeah, yeah, Shimon said. Thatís just it.
They went slowly into the house with their heads down, like children expecting to be punished. I had to laugh, I couldnít help it. When I saw Yeshua later I said: This healing hasnít brought much joy to anyone, perhaps not even the old lady.
She has never had much joy in her life; fishermenís wives have it hard, their daily bread is fear for their loved ones who are at sea.
Yes, I said, and you have taken both sons from her.
I couldnít have called them if they hadnít been called long ago. Itís not I who acts, but he who called me from the lap of eternity.
Word of the healing got around fast; the mourners talked about it.
And if he keeps this up!
Continued in the next issue of SCR. See Back Issues for previous parts.