from The Hasidic Sequences
Reb Taub once said: "Memory would
not be possible were we not to perish
every single day. At midnight the Angel of Death
takes our spirit to the Sheol, expunges
the I, and then brings it back. In the morning
when we arise, Shekinah once again
inscribes the Aleph onto our foreheads,
which is the emblem of the number one." "If Shekinah
forgets our name, she can no longer inscribe
the Aleph," said Reb Teitelbaum, "because the Aleph
is a part of the Self." Reb Hershele then added
that when Shekinah weeps over the
eradicated I, her tears inadvertently
wash away the Aleph—on the Sabbath of Memory.
On that day the Sabbath just wouldn't
arrive. But all the same, the village
awaited its approach. The tin candlesticks
were burnished. And the candles
placed carefully on the windowsills. Until then,
every Sabbath, the fading ashes of the waning light
sparked the candle-wicks into flame.
But this did not happen now. The villagers
intently observed the withdrawal of the Realm
of Light. By the side of the road, underneath
the leaves of the burdock trees, the elder
bushes, the first shadows appeared.
The color of the ziziphus bush
turned completely red, as if
the Sun's dying light had spilled
across its leaves. The temple attendant
walked twice to the end of the village
to look at the lower heavens, veiled by
the row of poplar trees. But evening didn't
want to arrive. The cholent had been
baked in vain. The glasses sparkled
on the table all for naught, the aromatic
wine in the bottles like trapped blood.
Only the Fool knew why.
When the Chassidim of Kálló had
for days been crowding in the wagons,
and they were no longer even angry,
and they didn't lament, only
prayed and then, exhausted, just
mumbled, their rabbi, in the middle
of a prayer at once cried out.
And fainted. When he came back
to consciousness he said that a thin
bearded figure had appeared to him.
Who grabbed him firmly by the throat and
whispered into his ear that this was hallowed ground,
and that he would return later on.
One day the train stopped. Everyone
proceeded down a long ramp, and amidst
the contingent, weary unto death, the Elder,
who had seen the Holy Man, slowly trudged, and
the Chassidim of Kálló knew that
He walked there beside them. Unterscharführer
Eckardt spoke to them in Hungarian,
as if they were still back
at home. Then, in front of the officer in charge
of the Selektion, walking off to the left
with his own people was Isaac Taub, the Saint.
The Sanctification of the Name
On that evening when the Righteous One
was betrayed—was born,
died and laid to rest, when
in the grave the body trembled and
the eyelid swelled up as if
it were a potato, or rather
it became like a piece of rotting
fruit, weighing heavily down
upon the eyeball, from which then
the Sage of Worms could hardly see the bearers of
the cross, when his torturers grew weary,
and the rabbi's head drooped to one side,
on that evening when the Lamb
was betrayed and all his children under the age of sixteen
condemned to death were processed
as mere waste material, as were
the elderly, the sick, the defective,
and the name of God, who has no
congregation, was not pronounced, on that evening when
the righteous were scorned and the
Three became one, the spirit of the Father
the Son and the Mother in the fire
and turned into smoke in the chimneys, when Otto
Moll perfected the technique of using
ditch-cremation for the separation
of the crackling, reusable fat.
translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet
'The Sanctification of the Name' first appeared in I Lived on this Earth . . . Hungarian Poets on the Holocaust. Selected and edited by George and Mari Gömöri. Alba Press: London, 2012.
Click here to read László Bedecs's interview with Szilárd Borbély, also from this issue.