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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Silent Song

I recently had the opportunity to have a look into a shul's genizah (that's where they keep religious items that are no longer used). Here's my first attempt to verbalize my feelings. There will probably be more.

I entered with the solemnity of the approach to a deathbed. I didn't know what to expect, but I was sure it would end in tears.

The quiet in the room was perfect. Nothing stirred. Waiting... waiting.

Then from the silence rose the whisper of time. It slowly crept out from the wrinkles, seeping through cracks to harmonize with the stillness. Sensing my listening ear, the voice of the ages grew stronger and began to flow.

I was deeply attracted to it. How could I fulfill my mission? There was a song in the room, a soundless tune that echoed off the walls. It was beautiful, bitter yet sweet, rising from the dust to proclaim its life. Spellbound, I wondered how I could be the one to silence it, the harbinger of death. It was a task for the heartless, I thought, not for a lover like me.

There was pain in the song. Listening closely, I began to realize that it was not directed at me. It was the pain of a soul abandoned far from home. It was a call, an entreaty to give it one last chance, to bring back the glory of its youth in its final days.

I am still sure it will end in tears, but I am also happy. I am happy to grant last respects to an old friend. I am happy I am the agent, instead of a heartless brute. Most of all, I'm happy I was able to hear.

15 comments:

Lakewood Venter said...

Interesting...

Bas~Melech said...

I forgot to mention... the reason I was there was to "clean up"-- i.e. throw away things and set aside what needs to be buried... which explains my post quite a lot.

The Dreamer said...

Nice!
I don't even know where my shul's genizah is...

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Looking at that pic reminds me of the holocaust pics of all the hair
:(

Bas~Melech said...

SWFM-- Not sure if it's clear enough; they're worn out tefillin straps. The scene reminded me of the holocaust, too. That's why it was so sad. It was like a whole world had been discarded.

Yet at the same time, there was the positive aspect: That these now-decrepit items had filled holy positions for the duration of their usable life, and were now being buried with the respect befitting them.

Mel said...

Very Touching.

What you saw was more than words can describe. These artifacts represent the highest level of success possible to reach. They were once just pieces of leather, now they are treated with the utmost respect that a Human can achieve. When they raised the physical to a higher sphere. They brought kedusha to something which couldn't reach that from it's original potential. Only a person can be mekadesh something physical.

They represent a world of perfection and their yearning is not a yearning of sadness, it is a yearning of enjoying yet another moment of perfection. It is not a yearning for purpose or meaning, it is a yearning of satisfaction.

Like the holocaust, they were faced with an opportunity to achieve kedusha far greater than we can. They were faced with real kidush Hashem.
Their story is one of tragedy and sadness, but it is also one of kedusha of reaching the highest realms of holiness.

I would love to look at those tefillin straps and wonder what their journey was. were they hidden in a barracks in siberia? were they once worn by the Sanzer Rav? Who was the sofer? Was it the vilna goan? Was it perhaps the same Tefilin I read about in the storyteller, or was it worn by a lamed vav nik?

Whatever the case, Very nice post... few people stop and think and appreciate their surroundings. I bet thousands of people walked into that geniza, said what a shanda, and went home.

Bas~Melech said...

Yes, Mel, that's exactly it!

But rats, you've written my next post. :-P
OK, I'll do it anyway in my own words... later.

Lvnsm27 said...

beautiful

Mel said...

you shouldn't have anything to worry about, your writing is a head and shoulders above mine.

nuch a chosid said...

beautiful and interesting, you got the rare great talent of expressing verbally your inner feelings

Independent Frum Thinker said...

I too am totally entranced when seeing Shaimos. It always makes me wonder……similar to what Mel so beautifully wrote in his comment.

Mel said...

The truth is it brings back memories from when I was about seven years old. I chanced upon a genizah of some sorts in my hometown, and was fascinated by it. Those were my thoughts as a child. It's amazing how a child's curiosity can bring him/her to see worlds which adults are not tuned in to.

We await your part II post.

David_on_the_Lake said...

Beautiful...
I also have an affinity toward old books sheimos..
In my yeshiva I used to spend hours pouring thru bags and bags of discarded sheimos and even managed to slavage a few really historical things

Maven said...

what a picture - the tefillin - it gave me chills.

Bas~Melech said...

Lvn, Mel, Nuch-- thanks.

David-- you're lucky. Every piece of history is precious, even if the appraisers don't deem it valuable. I had to be very selective about which treasures I allowed myself to save, though I did take a few items of interest. If I could have, I would have wanted to hold onto it all for dear life... so I took pictures instead.

Maven-- Nice to meet you. Yes, that was definitely my best shot.