Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Israel's 58th Independence Day 2006 (5766)

I actually remember that day in May, 1948, because my father was so pleased. He was a man of strong emotionality (bipolar? who knows?) and his anger frightened me terribly, but his tenderness strengthened me and ennobled the idea of a "Man" for me. So I am almost overcome with sentimentality today, saved only by the wry humor of the wonderful book I am reading: Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything is Illuminated. One of my favorite passages so far (I'm on page 200 of the British Penguin edition) is a quotation from The Book of Antecedents, a kind of group blog by the residents of the fictitious shtetl Trachimbod:
Jews Have Six Senses
Touch, taste, sight, smell,hearing...memory. While Gentiles experience and process the world through the traditional senses, and use memory only as a second-order means of interpreting events, for Jews memory is no less primary than the prick of a pin, or its silver glimmer, or the taste of the blood it pulls from the finger. The Jew is pricked by a pin and remembers other pins. It is only by tracing the pinprick back to other pinpricks - when his mother tried to fix his sleeve while his arm was still in it, when his grandfather's fingers fell asleep from stroking his great-grandfather's damp forehead, when Abraham tested the knife point to be sure Isaac would feel no pain - that the Jew is able to know why it hurts.

When a Jew encounters a pin, he asks: What does it remember like?
When I encounter Israel's Independence Day, it remembers like my father's delight.

5 comments:

noorster said...

Beautiful.

Julie said...

That's a fabulous quote. I immediately thought: no wonder psychoanalysis was invented by a Jew.

Maria said...

Happy Independence Day!

Savtadotty said...

Noorster - you have impeccable taste :-)

Julie - And Freud was so keen on NOT labeling psychoanalysis a Jewish science!

Maria - Thank you. Actually, I think modern states need to call these holidays "Interdependence Day." No state is an island any more (not even England.)

The Lioness said...

This was lovely, S. Lovely.