I was quite intimidated by publishing a first post. Not knowing the blog etiquette, I preventively researched a bit on the internet, until I found this interesting piece of information : “A good blogger should write at least 5 posts per day”. This is were I feel like saying (and declaring): no way. No way this is going to be a logorrheic, frivolous register of mood changing or copy-pasted articles. Unless one is insanely gifted – and/or incidentally does not have a life- inspiration for writing does not come as often as 5 times a day.
Today is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, one of the holiest days in the Jewish calendar. The day when the whole country of Israel completely shuts down for 24 hours (that includes also airport, radio broadcast and television, something hard to imagine in any other modern country these days). One can sense a tangible mood of “calming down”: staying at home, fasting, reflecting about the year which has passed and the one which is starting. Questioning how you have behaved towards your fellow human beings. And more important, a day where you still have the opportunity to ask forgiveness for the wrong done, either verbally or in prayers. For this is the day when God will seal (or not) your inscription in the book of life. This is why Jewish people wish each other “Hatima tova“, which means more or less “have a good signature”. And this is what inspired Leonard Cohen when he wrote his 1974 song “Who by fire”. The song enumerates the different ways a man can die. It draws directly form the traditional Jewish prayer of Unetaneh Tokef:
On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed,
And on Yom Kippur it is sealed.
How many shall pass away and how many shall be born,
Who shall live and who shall die,
Who shall reach the end of his days and who shall not,
Who shall perish by water and who by fire,
Who by sword and who by wild beast
Leonard Cohen himself stated in an interview in 1979 how his Jewish background influenced the writing of this song. By the way: a heartfelt thank you to Leonard Cohen for the very, very special concert he gave in Tel Aviv four days ago! I was lucky enough to be there, and I loved every moment.