Friday, September 21, 2007

Rebel With a Holy Heart

It is Shabbat, and Elisha ben Abuya (called "Acher" by his colleagues) is publicly desecrating the holy day by riding a horse. Walking alongside him is Rabbi Meir (his student). Heretic teacher and faithful disciple travel together along the road arguing and debating Jewish law.

Suddenly the Talmudic narrative shifts to a new dimension of irony. Rabbi Meir, the pious Jew, has become so immersed in the conversation that he has not noticed they are nearing the city limits, beyond which one is forbidden to walk on Shabbat. “Acher”, the apostate, realizes this and says:

“Meir, turn back. I have measured the distance we have walked by the paces of my horse, and we have reached the Shabbat limit. Beyond here, you are forbidden to walk.”

Meir replied: “You too turn back.”


The invisible boundary is not just the border of the city. It is symbolic of the line between two worlds: faith and heresy, Judaism and disaffiliation. Elisha ben Abuya, momentarily more sensitive than his disciple to Shabbat’s sanctity, tells Meir that he must turn back. Meir, instantly seizes on the fact that his teacher has just revealed that Judaism has not yet deserted him, begs Elisha to turn back, and return to his heritage.

(clicking the title links ya to the full article by Dov Greenberg)


ES said...

You too, Chicken Killer, can turn back before it is too late...

faithful admirer said...

makes me want to cry
very moving story
so tru
thanks chava for sharing

Fajita said...

ty mdear... have a meaninful day tomoz...

Sara with NO H said...

a gmar chasima tova shanas geula vyeshua v'hisromos keren yisroel.

the sabra said...

(nopes, nothin more intelligent coming ur way...not after u INSULT me like that!)

fa, u came to my house for yk, ya?
(ooh that looks weird, the fa and ya)
so ya, i also keep getting chills when i think about or repeat this story.

fajit, why? what's tomorrow? yud aleph tishrei? its somethin spayshul?

sara bli h (and i and know the routine), thanks loads! the same to you, and to all of klal yisroel. let's throw in a 'moshiach now' while were at it.
aaaaaaaaand, hello hello! its been decades since i've seen you :)

fa said...

nopes...but i did go to chevron with you

the sabra said...

who are u fa?
ronen's girlfriend?

tell meeeeeeeeeee

u got it said...

whats worse, Ronen's GF or Ronen's daughter??

the sabra said...

mah pitom ronens daughter?

the first call... said...

"Abba ani mifachechedet... ani bchevron..."

the sabra said...

ok im cracking up cuz this sounds VERY familiar now but i dont remember EXACTLY.

shucks i guess i gotta call/email you..