Sunday, 29 May 2011

Caballah - Sergio Gaut vel Hartman

David Ben Yehuda was not crazy. He heard voices, but he was not crazy. He had tuned that sense up to such a point that he could detect the moment when a leaf, yellow and brittle, came off the oak and began its slow descent, being swung in the air, rocked by the wind.
That's why I say he was not crazy. He heard the horses long before they were visible on the hills, long before they crossed the river. He knew who the ones mounting them were and what they came for. And when he knew that, he ran and ran and entered the teacher's house, still running, touching the mezuzah only in his thought, and he stumbled on the seats and the people and he hit and knocked the rabbi down to the floor.
"Are you crazy?" said the teacher when he could stand up. He stared at the thin, ungraceful David, his favorite student, installed behind a stern smile. He knew that David was not crazy, but somehow he had to moderate the boy's arrests. Although this time, he knew immediately, it was not a minor topic. Naum Ben Simon could read David´s face as if it was a roll from the Torá, something very serious was happening, very serious.
"It's terrible," David babbled. "Count. Emich of Leisingen."
Some words are fire, they are acid, they are poison. No Jew from Renania ignored who Emich of Leisingen, the bandit Count, was. He and his men had raided the region many times. His gangs always took what they wanted, always in the bad way. But this time was worse. The rabbi saw the crosses gleaming in the David´s eyes, he sensed the smell of blood and he heard the moans; he had also been young and imprudent. But this time was another thing. The rumors had been around and everybody knew that the noblemen and knights were getting ready to recover Jerusalem. Their Jerusalem? Our Jerusalem! Will they maybe recover it for us? The rabbi looked at David again.
"Where will we go?" the teacher groaned. "They will be everywhere and they will say we have killed their Lord and we are guilty. There is no place to go."
It was David´s turn. He looked at the rabbi as if he didn't know him and he spit the five words almost with rage.
"Have you taught me lies?" He had grown up ten years in two minutes. David pointed at the books heaped on the table, filling the bookcases. "Are they all lies? Wisdom, just the excrements of a mangy dog? Cabbalah, just dreams and delusion?" He breathed deeply, as if he were drowning. "Have you been lying to me all this time?"
Naum Ben Simon understood David´s point and he replied with the only thing he could reply. "Things don't happen because you want it; God should want them to happen. He should inspire us. Is that what you´re talking about?"
"That is what I'm talking about," said David, and he grew ten years older. "Does God want us to be slaughtered, does he want the Count's gang to cut our throats and drink our blood?"
"If he allowed, that it would be his Will, and we should accept it." The rabbi looked at the ceiling, but David knew his eyes could see through the beams and the tiles.
"If he allowed me to get out of here," David said, furious, pressing his teeth, "it would be his Will, too."
"You won't," said the rabbi, exhausted.
David turned his back to him. Naum Ben Simon understood it was his duty to respect the boy's wish and he left the room, leaving him alone. He would not be the one to behead the boy's hope, even if there was no future for the Jews in Speyer.
The door closed and the sound of the rabbi's steps vanished in the corridor. David aged every year he still had left to reach wisdom and plunged into the pleats of knowledge. He allowed his fine ear to guide him to the crossroads where commands and proportions crackled; he smelled the figures and tasted the signs, letting himself go to the depths of the mechanism that gives ground to harmony in the whole universe, giving life to it. Finally, he saw it and felt it- there he was, absorbed, almost indifferent, playing with beings and suns. And he, David, the insignificant apprentice from Speyer, could come closer and locate his own marks. He would never know if he had deceived Him or if the Manipulator had simply allowed the intrusion.
But David opened his eyes and he was no longer in the rabbi's office, he was no longer in Speyer; his fine ear couldn't capture any movements from the Count's killers, who were coming to behead the Jews, sheltered by cross with no charity or compassion.
The evening had turned into bright morning. In the distance, behind the hills, he could see slender columns, smoke oozing out of them. He walked on to the summit and caught sight of the valley. It was a town, a strange town surrounded by a wall made of some thin, knitted metal. He sharpened his ear and he heard the voices. Screams and groans. Orders and requests. But he couldn't understand the words. They were just a faint resemblance of the language he used to speak. He began to walk down the hill and the shapes turned into people, mostly dressed in striped suits, although others, who looked sturdy and authoritarian, were wearing dark clothes and metal hats. David was not silly and he knew immediately that something was wrong in this place. He shook his head and he smiled. They could not be worse than Count Emich of Leisingen and his bandits. He started to walk faster and, with an unshakable determination, he headed toward the gate at the entrance, where someone had written, with big, strangely shaped letters and in recognizable German: "work will make you free."

Translated: Claudia De Bella.
Original tittle: Cabalah

About the Author: Sergio Gaut vel Hartman

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