8/20/2005

Be Comforted

I love the Haftarah of ‘Nachamu’. I blogged once before about Bialik’s usage of terminology from Eicha and Nachamu in his poem ‘Al Saf Beit Ha-Midrash’ .

There’s an image in this Haftarah that I don’t really get. In clearing a path for God in the desert, the prophet declares that ‘every vale will be raised, and every mount and hil lowered’. What’s this great equalization, this smoothing over of everything. Personally, I’m a fan of rough edges, texture, and imperfection. In order for the world to be ready for God, must everything be smoothed over?
· The 19th Century British aesthetes (who I’ve never read but have heard RAL speak about) would say yes. These folks were offended that the Earth is elliptical and not perfectly spherical, kal va-chomer that there are ‘pock-marks’ on its surface.
· Marxists (we know you’re still out there) can have a field day with this image (if they were inclined to learn Na”ch).
· Rashi speaks about how the mounts and vales are landmarks, reminding us of those places where we sinned – that mountain was a holy place for this pagan deity, etc. Smoothing it all over creates allows for our relationship with God to start fresh, without reminders of past failures. I think this can be interpreted symbolically as well – these mountains and valleys exist within our own personalities. They are hang-ups, handcuffs, things which don’t allow us to progress.
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