Back from another unintended blogging break. Last week I got an offer I couldn't refuse, a few days of rush work for the price of many, many more days. I may not get to Israel this year, but I'll never return if I turn down projects like this one. The magnum opus goes to the printer this afternoon, after which I will revert to a predictably crazy schedule.
This final stretch of Me'ah continues to dredge up strange, old memories. Last night we talked about the 1882 May Laws, Draconian legislation imposed against the Jews by Czar Alexander III of Russia. I studied a great deal of American history in college but little about other parts of the world, or this event. Yet it sounded very familiar, and then I remembered--The Treasury of Jewish Folklore was filled with anecdotes and parables with the May Laws as key characters. Life was always hard in the village, and suddenly it got much worse--so the farmer prayed, and ten kopecks appeared on his doorstep. Those May Laws were miserable, whatever they were (I never asked).
And I never believed in miracles, or that God answered prayers literally, but always did imagine He or She as a friendly sort. The God of wrath and indignation seemed even less plausible than no God at all. My parents didn't teach me this, nor my awful Hebrew school; I learned it from those stories in which people suffered and prayers went unanswered, but everything ended up OK in the end. God provided an unplanned, imperfect universe, but was never mean or vindictive. I knew for certain, at age 8, that life went on even after the mule died, and I still know it.