Monday, July 11, 2011
On the Worship of an Ass, VII
ITS HIDE, ITS FLESH, ITS OFFAL
Amichai ben Dovid’s arrest sent most of his of his most fervent followers into hiding. Those who remained repented and were forced to lay prostrate on the threshold of the synagogue, so the heel of everyone’s boot would trod them, as a symbol of the penitence. Only then were they allowed back into the community of Israel.
After a few months, Amchai ben Dovid’s followers were hunted down by the gentle lord and forced to live on his estate. They numbered nearly three thousand, and lived in cottages near a brook, well within the old wall of the lord’s compound. For many months they neither saw nor heard of their messiah.
And then one confounding day Rubin of Hebron appeared at the camp; he had shaved his beard, so at first no one recognized him. He announced that a wondrous event was about to unfold. And then he disappeared up the slope to the Gentile Lord’s manor house.
Then one Saturday before Easter, there was a freak storm. The Dovidic camp was smothered in a wet, early Spring snow. The inhabitants were in a foul mood. They had thrown their whole lot in with Amichai ben Dovid and his sycophant, Rubin of Hebron, and here they were, chattel on the Gentile Lord’s estate.
Just then, a man arrived in the camp. He wore the kind of tunic which supplicants to the Christian Church don in preparation to conversion. His hair was close cropped, even tonsured like a monk’s, and his face was clean-shaven. It took a few moments to realize that it was Amichai ben Dovid. A gold cross hung around his neck. Rubin of Hebron followed behind him, similarly dressed. For the first time in many months, Amichai ben Dovid addressed his followers:
“God has instructed me to covert to the religion of Edom,” he said in a loud but wavering Yiddish. There was no need for Rubin of Hebron to translate.
As after the abrogating of the law of Moses, a portion of his followers repented and returned to the community of Israel. They took their place on the threshold of the synagogue door, and were allowed once more to dwell in the tents of Jacob.