Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Jew and his violin

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The young Hasid's extreme inwardness and intensity and his soulful music stopped me in my tracks.
It was Friday and I should have been hurrying, like everyone else, to buy food in the market and get home before Shabbat.
But I was drawn in, mesmerized by his playing; I could not move away.
Suddenly all the hustle and bustle of the shuk disappeared for me; there was only him.


For some reason a municipal inspector appeared and told him he could not play here.
He kept playing, didn't miss a note.
The official said, "Too bad then, I have to write you a ticket."

I went closer and dropped some shekels in his violin case, maybe to help cover the fine.
Without a word to the evil inspector, the boy moved back a dozen steps--and resumed his music.
Still he played with eyes down, almost closed; only when he sensed children watching did he look up at them momentarily with a twinkle in his eye and a shy smile.

I remembered seeing a strange and powerful movie decades ago about the Seer of Lublin.
This young Jew and his violin had the same kind of mystical magic, as if . . . if he played just a little longer it would bring the redemption, the messiah.

Suddenly he looked up, straight at me.
I hope he couldn't see the tears.

What is it with Jews and the violin?

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20 comments:

Dina said...

As Tevye the milkman said,
"A fiddler on the roof: sounds crazy, no? But here, in our little village of Anatevka, you might say, every one of us is a fiddler on the roof - trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn't easy... And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: tradition! Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as, as... as a fiddler on the roof!"

Hels said...

The image of a young man playing a violin with rapt attention and an inward gaze is a powerful one. And symbolic of the brilliant communities that were obliterated in central and eastern Europe.

And the violin isn't even my favourite instrument.

Hilda said...

Your tale (and comment) moved me as his music moved you.

Cloudia said...

What a mystical experience and excellent, searching post!



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Theanne and Baron said...

More so than the piano, I believe the violin is connected right to the soul of the person playing it! It can set such a mood, intense pain and sorrow or happiness and joy. Your young man is putting so much of himself into his music...laying himself bare for all to hear (to see). Thank you for sharing!

crystal said...

I remember that movie :)

Interesting about the Seer of Lublin - I just looked him up in Wikipedia. If I could learn an instrument, the violin would be the one.

Elena said...

I thought of Tevye when I saw this picture!~ Wish I could have heard him play.

Greensboro Daily Photo said...

The violin is the voice of the soul. Once you have the violin in your soul, it is always there to evoke feelings and memories.

Kay said...

What a wonderful post, Dina. Your photo has truly captured the intensity and beauty of that violinist. I can almost hear the music. I do well remember what a gifted violinist your daughter was! In fact, I'm sure I've got a photo of it. I'll have to search for it and send it to you.

Robin said...

One of my very favorite singers, Colum Sands, has a beautiful song about buskers (titled appropriately enough Buskers) that speaks to just this.

Chorus:
And if you stop to listen
They're playing for you and I
And their music sings along the strings
Between the earth and the sky
Between the earth and the sky

Seems to sum it up perfectly, doesn't it?

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Fran said...

This is a heart-stopper... wow. Thank you so much! (Dina, I owe you a reply to the comment you left at my blog last week; I am just so far behind!)

VP said...

I still remember Isaac Stern donning a gas mask and playing the violin...

Spiderdama said...

Oh, so beautiful and moving tekst.
And your pictures is lovely.. I think you said you were a little shy to take pictures of people on the street.

Rob and Mandy said...

Straight out of Chagall. Any goat around, or flying couples?

Sara said...

I can feel the pull of this, Dina, as if I were there experiencing it all too.

JM said...

Lovely post, Dina! 'A Fiddler on the Roof' came to my mind the second I saw these photos.

Anonymous said...

Dina, this is a lovely post. It leaves me wishing to know more about the fiddler. How it was he didn't budge for the inspector and responded to those around him who cared. Mary A.

Rachel said...

Your recount of this time brought tears to my eyes!

Irina said...

Wonderful text and story and photo. Thank you, Dina.

Eki said...

The music must have been very moving coming from his soul and reading your response to it.

Fined for playing music in public? This I don't understand.