Thursday, August 03, 2006

American-Rabbinic Poetry

I have come to realize, mostly after the fact, that what I have been doing for many years is attempting to merge the literary consciousness of our Jeffersonian/Thoreau-ian heritage with the Rabbinic literary/spiritual consciousness, and its precursor, our Biblical conscience. This is not such an unusual thing. Indeed, I would consider Jefferson and Thoreau modern Prophets who were very consciously linking this era to its Biblical, Hebraic conscience. My addition of the Rabbinic component is perhaps less common.

But Rabbinic literature is vast and utterly untapped as a source of imagery, imagination, phenomenology, and multiple knowledge-gestalts. It is shockingly modern and evocatively primitive at the same time. It is hypertextual, non-linear, and liltingly narrative. I would propose that, thanks to an obsessive fugue of immersion and study by 75 generations of rabbis (1500 years), the Talmud and Midrash have been fused into the Jewish spiritual genetic code. And now, in this era, it is, as if, directly available to those Jews who make an effort to Hear it. Thru their transcendent cult and cultivation, the Rabbis have made it the native flora of our soil. We must but turn the soil over and let the heavens water it, and what grows will provide us a harvest of Rabbinic Knowing.

Consider how pertinent, and how perfectly familiar, these sayings from the first generations:

Reb Khisda said (BT Brakhot 55a): "A dream that is not interpreted is like a letter that is not read." In the name of Reb Bana'ah (BT Brakhot 55a): "There were 24 interpreters of dreams in Jerusalem. Once I dreamt a dream and went round to all of them and they all gave different interpretations. And all were fulfilled!"

See my poem “Vizhen Karvd in 2 Seels” as an example of this poetics.

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