Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Another note from Nathan in Israel: Clowns of God

Here’s what happens at a Jewish front.
A unit returns from Lebanon, all alive (on a day before nine others are killed). As their tanks, bulldozers, armored carriers cross into Israel, a “mitzvah mobile,” a Lubavitch version of Ken Kesey’s Kandy-Kolored Kontraption of the 60’s, greets them. The Lubie-mobile is blaring songs from an oversized speaker that strains against its metal stays, as if it might collapse backwards at any moment -- from its blasting volume, rather than from driving speed. Hairy faced Lubies leap out of this van, many more emerge than seems feasible to fit into this contraption. An Orthodox version of circus clowns piling out of a VW welcomes these worn soldiers. Tzitzit fly as Lubies twirl (like Dervishes), leap like gazelles, bear tefillin and extra talletim (fringed prayer shawls). They fling talletim on soldiers, grab arms, yank up sleeves, wrap the tefillin seven times around the left forearm, followed by the mysterious wrapping of knuckles that write “Shadai” on the fist ... and begin to pray. Soldiers appear stunned, or pleased, and mostly exhausted. The bearded, black-hatted, black-suited, fringed clowns of God are dancing about the soldiers, leaping on tanks, singing the praises of God for returning these men alive and well.
The Lubies believe that such performances influence God well.
A Jewish front.

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