"How Good and Pleasant ..."

By William Markiewicz

My recent article about Professor Shlomo Sand’s Book "The Invention of the Jewish People", brought an old text to mind. I don’t remember the source. It described a group of young Jewish prisoners in some cell or holding place and they were singing, probably to give themselves courage before the unavoidable end. They sang a Hebrew song, “How good and pleasant to be among brothers.” The door suddenly opened and a little ten year old girl was brought in. She presented herself: “When I learned that they took my parents away, I went to their office and I said that I am Jewish and I want to go also. First they didn’t believe me. And afterwards they beat me, oh God they beat.” Her face twisted in spasms of suffering. ”But now I am here. It is good to be among brothers, isn’t it?” The prisoners remained silent.

The Polish poet Mickiewicz wrote a poem that initiated Romanticism in Poland. The poem ended: “Feeling and faith speak more strongly to me than the wizard’s loupe and eye.”

In the film, “Ecstasy” with Hedy Lamarr, the woman chooses a short lasting paroxysm of ecstasy even though it would end in misery and death. The sense of the film is that an instant explosion is more important than a small candle’s long lasting light.

Who is right? The logicians or the dreamers? We will never know. As I wrote in one of my aphorisms, “We live, not with truth, but with truths.”

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