January 7, 2016, Israel
I have seen the film "Yental" many times. To many it is a controversial film. Based on the book "Yentl the Yeshiva Boy" by Isaac Bashevis Singer the story concerns a young woman who pretends to be a man in order to escape an arranged marriage and the limited life she is offered and pursue her dream of religious studies.
I will not get into the controversial issues; women studying Talmud, gender issues, arranged marriages, not here. I want to focus on something simpler, the relationship between a father and a child.
Yentl grows up in a small village in Poland, her mother dies young and she is raised by her father. A close bond is formed between father and daughter. They share a bond of Torah, of Judaism, they study together and explore the wisdom of God's universe. And then Papa, her father, passes from this earth, as we all shall some day.
Yentl sets off to find her own identity, she yearns to study the holy books. She feels terribly alone. At night she cries out to our father in heaven, and to her own father who is also in heaven. The world suddenly seems so huge now that she is alone. The world now seems like a big scary place and the child, now grown, must walk alone. The wind is colder, the night is darker, nothing is the same.
I know the feeling. Father gone, suddenly the world is not the same place, your guide, you light is gone...
But he left you wisdom, a father does not leave until he has done that which he came to do.
Papa can you hear me? Papa can you see me? The child calls out to a father who is gone. But a father is never truly gone. The lessons he gave us will always be with us. But first, but first...
But first we must live our own lives. First we must go through much trial and tribulation. We must stumble and get up again. We must experience pain and hurt, joy and victory. And then we realize that our father has never truly left, he is with us at all times and his lessons never leave us. Like a seed that was planted and must take its time certain lessons are not meant to be understand at once. They are like a time capsule, the lesson will come in due time.
Certain events in our life will trigger certain lessons, years later...our father is with us. We feel his presence.
And then, someday, after much pain, if we do not give up, we see it, we feel it. So many times we feel like we might fall, but some force holds us up, against all odds.
If we dare to dream, if we listen, we hear our father's voice; never give up son, never let anyone get in your way. Never let anyone push you down, you were destined for great things in this life.
I think of my own father, a man who had his ups and downs in life, as did his father before him, but he never gave up. I have an image in my mind, a story from my father; his father, Moe of blessed memory, for whom I am named, and his uncle, Uncle Seymour of blessed memory who was a great role model for me. The two brothers, the Katz brothers, a night in Brooklyn, hard times, hard times. The two brothers, walking back and forth, up and down the block, talking, thinking, trying to find a solution to economic problems, challenges. My father told me the story, the two brothers, the Katz brothers, together they will find a way. Walking side by side, back and forth...
We never give up.
And as life goes on we hear our fathers' voice, we grow stronger, wiser, we learn to face life, and then, like Yentl we shout out loud ....
Papa I can hear you, Papa I can see you, Papa I can feel you, Papa watch me fly!!