Page 1

S. Ansky's The Dybbuk

Adapted from the Yiddish by Joachim Neugroschel

April 2002

The Study Guide 1

The Dybbuk Performance Policies and Procedures


New York State Learning Standards


Audience Role and Responsibility


One-Minute Etiquette Reminder


Why We Go to the Theatre


Understanding/Appreciating the Acting


Understanding/Appreciating the Design Elements


S. Ansky, Playwright


Joachim Neugroschel, Adapter


Setting, Synopsis, Characters




Background: Marriage Traditions, Kabbalah, 27, 31 A Little Geographical Background/The Cossacks/The Pale of Settlement, 42 Parables from The Dybbuk, Notes from Director Barbara Damashek/ 48, 50 Words from Isaac Bashevis Singer/Song of Solomon Questions for After Reading the Play


Post-Performance Questions


For Further Discussion


Writing Assignments


Arts Activities


Quotations from the Play


Sources Consulted


Dramaturgical research for The Dybbuk prepared by Rachel Edwards Harvith, Dramaturg, and Pat Pederson, Education Associate; curriculum activities by Pat Pederson.


PERFORMANCE POLICIES AND PROCEDURES WHEN TO ARRIVE AT THE THEATRE: We recommend you arrive at the theatre at least 30 minutes prior to the performance to allow time for seating. This is a professional theatre production and will start at the scheduled time. Student matinees begin promptly at 10:30 am. BUS DROP OFF AND PARKING: Busses not staying may load and unload at the Centro bus stop on East Genesee Street. Bus parking is available along East Genesee Street at the bagged meters. Cars must make arrangements in parking facilities as they will be ticketed if parked at the bagged meters. SEAT ASSIGNMENTS: As each seat at Syracuse Stage is reserved and out of courtesy to others, students must sit in their assigned seats and not trade seats. We request that this rule be respected regardless of the number in your group. Chaperones and teachers should sit among the students, not in a group of their own. LATECOMERS: Latecomers will be seated at the discretion of the Management. BACKPACKS, CAMERAS, WALKMANS: Backpacks, cameras and music-playing devices are strictly prohibited in the theatre. As we do not have storage facilities for these items at Syracuse Stage, we ask that you leave them at school or on the bus. PHOTOGRAPHY: All cameras are strictly prohibited. Union rules do not allow the taking of pictures during a production and flash cameras are a distraction to both the acting company and audience. Any camera used in the theatre will be removed for the duration of the performance. FOOD, DRINK AND GUM: Absolutely no food, drink, or gum is allowed in the theatre. Please leave snacks and lunches on the bus. Students will be asked to leave the theatre to remove any food items or the items will be taken and not returned. INTERMISSION REFRESHMENTS: Soda will be available during intermission for $1.00 (exact change will be appreciated). Reminder: You must dispose of all snack items before reentering the theatre. AUDIENCE ETIQUETTE: Live performance theatres require behavior different from that required in movie theatres. Please review theatre etiquette with your students before attending the performance. If any student becomes disruptive to the point of interference with the performers or other audience members, a chaperon will be asked to remove that student. 3

POST-SHOW FOLLOW UP: Performances at Syracuse Stage are funded by grants, corporations, and individuals. They do want to hear from you. We ask students and teachers to write the sponsors with your likes and dislikes and to let the sponsors know that the student matinees are an important program. (Do write to us too!) Please: 1] Write thank you letters to the sponsors to let them know that this is an important program. (Names and addresses can be obtained from the Education office.) 2] Write to Syracuse Stage with suggestions to improve your theatre experience. 3] Call the Education office if you have any questions or if there is an issue that requires immediate action: 443-1150. Thank you in advance for the work you put into helping Syracuse Stage present the student matinee program. We hope that the season entertains and enlightens you and your students.

Part of the art of living is living with the arts.

PEOPLE YOU SHOULD KNOW Education Associate……………………………… Pat Pederson Group Sales Coordinator........................................ Tracey White House Manager...................................................... Lisa Doerle Producing Director................................................. James Clark Artistic Director..................................................... Robert Moss IMPORTANT NUMBERS Syracuse Stage Administration Offices: 315/443-4008 Education Department: 315/443-1150 Group Sales: 315/443-9844


The New York State Standards of Learning The following chart is designed to assist you in using the activities and questions in this guide to address the New York State Learning Standards for the Arts in the areas of Theatre and English Language Arts, as well as Career Development and Occupational Skills (Universal Skills). As you are the experts at adapting these activities to meet the needs of your specific classroom, this grid is only meant as an easy reference and does not intend to suggest that these are the only learning standards to which these activities apply, nor is every activity and question included on the grid (like the activities included with Quotations from the Play). We hope this is helpful, and if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, you should feel free to call us at (315) 443-1150.

Valance curtain for a 19th century synagogue’s ark (holy receptacle for Torah scrolls)


AUDIENCE ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITY As audience members, your students have a distinct role and responsibility. The success of any performance depends on the actors as well as the people in the seats. For those students enjoying their first live production, we encourage some discussion of theatre manners before you attend the play, as some movie- and television-watching behaviors are not always appropriate in the theatre. Here are two items to assist you: the first lists discussion questions or topics for the classroom (with some suggested answers in italics) while the second is a ONE MINUTE ETIQUETTE REMINDER to read on the bus before you arrive. (You might also review Why We Attend Theatre on p. 13—not on the bus, of course!) Thank you for helping us help your students get the most out of the performance. [ 1 ] What are some of the differences between a live theatre production and a movie? Movies can be filmed in any sequence and scenes can be redone as many times as needed to get a good scene. The scenes are then composed into the movie by editors and the director. Each scene in a live theatre performance is presented once only, in sequence, as written, the performance being created anew each time by the actors, stage manager(s) and backstage staff. An audience’s noise level, activity level, and attention level do not affect a movie actor’s performance. BUT, all of these things are heard and noticed by the actors of a live performance and have an immediate effect on the performance, which may be positive or negative—if the audience laughs at funny lines or is leaning forward in anticipation of the action, actors respond with energetic performances; if the audience does not respond to the actors, responds at inappropriate times or is restless, actors find it difficult to give their best performances because their concentration, their “trains of thought,” as it were, have been disrupted. Movie special effects are often generated by computers or camera angles while special effects in the theatre often rely on the audience’s imagination to enhance or help create them. Movies provide realistic images while live theatre provides images of reality.

[ 2 ] What is the best way to approach viewing a live theatre performance? Audiences attending a live performance must be willing to “suspend their disbelief”; that is, they should be prepared to use their imagination to fully enter into the ideas behind the piece. Live performances are immediate in ways television and movies are not: try to be open to the passion and emotion behind the actions, words, movements and/or music presented. Because each performance is affected by audience response, audience members will never see the same performance twice. Though the piece’s meaning remains the same, each performance may have its own underlying interpretations due to factors such as the performer(s) and/or audience’s state of mind, performer(s) physical readiness, and even the comfort level in the performing space.

[ 3 ] What is the audience’s role during a live performance? How do you think audience behavior can affect a performance? Audiences ready to observe naturally connect with the performers and appropriately respond to the performance, by laughing, gasping, applauding, or quietly listening. Even when this is so audience members should remember that, for live performances, paper rattling, watch alarms, cell phones, beepers, and talking will distract the performers, thereby disrupting the connection between stage and auditorium and weakening the performance. Just as importantly, those around noisy audience members will miss hearing or seeing elements of a live performance that may not be repeated.


ONE-MINUTE ETIQUETTE REMINDER Please read to students on the bus prior to entering the theatre. Stay in the group to be seated. Your school or class will be called and seated as a group. Sit in the seat to which you are assigned. If you move or refuse to take a particular seat, you will delay our seating other members of your group as well as other groups. No food, drink, gum-chewing, headsets, or backpacks in the theatre. Please leave lunches, snacks and backpacks on the bus. NO TALKING OR GETTING UP DURING THE SHOW. This includes whispering. Every live performance is a unique experience, created jointly by actors and audience members present for a specific presentation. Live performances vary greatly from recorded TV programs or movies because the audience’s reactions are not only obvious to the performers but are relied upon by them as signals that they presenting the best performance possible, regardless of the type of reaction—applause, laughter, crying or even quiet attention—because the actors can see and hear you. Please do not talk, act or distract attention from the stage. Please use the restrooms before the show or at intermission only. If you have any problems or questions, please ask the ushers for help.

The bottom line is: Enjoy yourself!


Why We Attend Theatre Oscar Brockett, from The Theatre: An Introduction Art is one way whereby mankind seeks to understand the world. . . .Our search for meaning . . . is always directed toward discovering those relationships that reveal order within what would otherwise seem to be chance events. Art, then, . . . shapes perceptions about human experience into . . . patterned relationships that help us order our views about mankind and the universe. . . . The artist . . . works primarily from his or her own perceptions and seeks to involve the audience’s emotions, imagination, and intellect directly. A playwright consequently presents events as though they are occurring at that moment before our eyes; we absorb them in the way we absorb life itself—through their direct operation on our senses. Thus, as art differs from life by stripping away irrelevant details and organizing events to compose a connected pattern, so a play illuminates and comments (though sometimes indirectly) on human experience even as it seemingly creates human experience. But, just as we do not mistake a statue for a real person, we do not mistake stage action for reality. Rather, we usually view a play with what [the poet] Samuel Taylor Coleridge called a “willing suspension of disbelief.” By this concept he meant that, while we know the events of a play are not real, we agree for the moment not to disbelieve their reality. . . This state in which we are sufficiently detached to view an artistic event semiobjectively is sometimes called esthetic distance. [However], the distance must not be so great as to induce indifference. Therefore, while a degree of detachment is necessary, [audience] involvement is of equal importance. This feeling of kinship is sometimes called empathy. Thus, we watch a play with a double sense of concern and detachment. It is both a removed and an intensified reaction of a kind seldom possible outside esthetic experience. Another way of putting this is that art (that is, a statue, a musical composition, or a drama) lifts us above the everyday fray and gives us something like a “god’s-eye” view of human experience. . . . Art lays claim . . . to being serious (in the sense of having something important to communicate), but because its methods are so indirect (it presents experience but does not attempt to explain it fully) it is often ambiguous . . . . Special Attributes of Theatre as an Art. Even within the fine arts theatre holds a special place; it is the art that comes closest to life as it is lived from day to day. Not only is human experience and action its subject, it also uses live human beings (actors) as its primary means of communicating with an audience. Quite often the speech of the performers approximates that heard in real life; the actors may wear costumes that might be seen on the street; and they may perform in settings that recall actual places. Not all theatre attempts to be so realistic and at times it may even approximate other performing arts (such as dance and music), but nevertheless it is the art most capable of recreating mankind’s typical experiences.


Such lifelikeness is also one of the reasons theatre is often insufficiently valued: a play, a setting, the acting may so resemble what is familiar to spectators that they fail to recognize how difficult it is to produce this lifelikeness skillfully. To a certain degree all people are actors; they vary the roles they play (almost moment by moment) according to the people they encounter. In doing so, they utilize the same tools as the actor: voice, speech, movement, gesture, psychological motivation, and the like. Consequently, most persons do not fully recognize the problems faced by a skilled actor. Even those within the theatre often differ in their opinions about whether artistic excellence depends primarily on talent and instinct or on training and discipline. Theatre further resembles life in being ephemeral. As in life, each episode is experienced and then immediately becomes part of the past. When the performance ends, its essence can never be fully recaptured. Unlike a novel, painting, or statute, each of which remains relatively unchanged, a theatrical production when it is ended lives only in the play script, program, pictures, reviews, and memories of those who were present. Theatre resembles life also in being the most objective of the arts, since characteristically it presents both outer and inner experience through speech and action. As in life, it is through listening and watching that we come to know characters both externally and internally. What we learn about their minds, personalities, and motivations comes from what they say and do and from what others tell us about them. Thus we absorb a theatrical performance the way we do a scene from real life. Additionally, theatre can be said to resemble life because of the complexity of its means for, like a scene from life itself, it is made up of intermingled sound, movement, place, dress, lighting, and so on. In other words, theatre draws on all the other arts: literature in its script; painting, architecture, and sculpture (and sometimes dance) in its spectacle; and speech and music in its audible aspects. In some ways, then, theatre encompasses all the other arts. Furthermore, theatre is psychologically the most immediate of the arts.

Several contemporary critics have argued that the essence of theatre—what distinguishes it from other dramatic media such as television and film—lies in the simultaneous presence of live actors and spectators in the same room, and that everything else is expendable. . . . Live performance has important attributes that television and film cannot duplicate, most significantly . . . the three-dimensionality of the theatrical experience and the special relationship between performers and spectators: in the theatre, . . . since the full acting area remains visible, the audience may choose what it will watch, even though the director may attempt to focus attention on some specific aspect of a scene. [But, and] perhaps most important, during a live performance there is continuous interaction between performer and spectator; even as the actor is eliciting responses from the audience, those responses in turn are affecting the actor’s performance. Thus, a live performance permits the audience a far more active role than television and film do. Ultimately, there is a fundamental difference in the psychological responses aroused by electronic media and theatre because the former presents pictures of events whereas the latter performs the actual events in what amounts to the same space as that occupied by the audience. This difference results in one unique characteristic of theatre: its ability to 12

offer intense sensory experience through the simultaneous presence of live actors and audience. . . . The Audience. Until the public sees the material performed we usually do not call it theatre. For all the arts a public is imperative, but for most this public may be thought of as individuals—the reader of a novel or poem, the viewer of a painting or a piece of sculpture—each of whom may experience the work in isolation. But a theatre audience is assembled as a group at a given time and place to experience a performance. Why Does an Audience Attend the Theatre? One of the most powerful motives for going to the theatre is the desire for entertainment, which implies suspension of personal cares, relaxation of tensions, and a feeling of well-being, satisfaction, and renewal. But although everyone may believe that the theatre should provide entertainment, not all agree on what is entertaining. Many would exclude any treatment of controversial subject matter on the grounds that an audience goes to the theatre to escape from cares rather than to be confronted with problems. . . . Other persons look to theatre for stimulation. They too desire to be entertained, but argue that the theatre should also provide new insights and provocative perceptions about significant topics, advocate action about political and social issues, or increase awareness of and sensitivity to others and surroundings. . . . Both points of view are valid in part, but adherents of neither point of view should attempt to limit unduly the theatre’s offerings. The whole range of drama should be available to audiences, for the health of the theatre depends upon breadth of appeal. In America today the success of a play is frequently judged by its ability to attract large audiences over a considerable period of time. But is a play to be considered a failure if it does not achieve financial success? Not necessarily. A dramatist has a right to select his or her audience just as much as an audience has to select a play. Actually, dramatists do so when they choose the subject matter, characters, and techniques to be used, for, consciously or unconsciously, they have an ideal spectator in mind. Although playwrights may hope for universal acceptance, each desires the favorable response of a particular group. Consequently, a play may be deemed successful if it achieves the desired response from the audience for which it was primarily intended. . . . The Problem of Value. It is difficult to defend art on the basis of its immediate utility. Art ultimately must be valued because of its capacity to improve the quality of life: by increasing our sensitivity to others and our surroundings, by sharpening our perceptions, by reshaping our values so that moral and societal concerns take precedence over material well-being. Of all the arts, theatre has perhaps the greatest potential as a humanizing force, for at its best it asks us to enter imaginatively into the lives of others so we may understand their aspirations and motivations. Through role-playing (either in daily life or in the theatre) we come to understand who and what we are and to see ourselves in relation to others. Perhaps most important, in a world given increasingly to violence, the value of being able to understand and feel for others as human beings


cannot be overestimated, because violence flourishes most fully when we so dehumanize others that we no longer think of their hopes, aims, and sufferings but treat them as objects to be manipulated or on whom to vent our frustrations. To know (emotionally, imaginatively, and intellectually) what it means to be human in the broadest sense ought to be one of the primary goals of both education and life; for reaching that goal no approach has greater potential than theatre, since humans are its subject and living beings its primary medium. . . . Unfortunately, quality—unlike quantity—is not measurable except subjectively. And subjectivity takes us into the realm of taste, judgment, and a host of variables about which agreement is seldom possible. There are many levels of taste, many degrees of complexity, and a wide range of quality. But, if we cannot expect ever to achieve complete agreement, we all can sharpen our own perceptions of the theatre and its processes. To do this, we need first to understand the theatre and how it works. Second, we need to develop some approach through which we can judge the relative merits of what is performed and how it is performed. Then, we should work to encourage those theatrical values that seem important to us. In this way we may acquire understanding and judgment—that is, we become critics of the theatre. . . . Understanding/Appreciating the Acting Suggested by: Katherine Ommanney’s The Stage and the School The following questions may help you to view shows intelligently, but don’t let them spoil your enjoyment of the theatre or turn you into a commentator during the performance! Real enthusiasts of the theatre free their imaginations and emotions while viewing a play or a film, while using their intelligence and discrimination to heighten their appreciation of this great art.

Section A: Theme In your opinion, is the fundamental idea of the play true or false in its concept of life? Is the theme consistent with the setting, plot and characters presented in the play? Do you agree with the author’s philosophy? In your opinion, should the general public be encouraged to see the play? Section B: Plot Is there a clear-cut sequence of events? Do they rise to a gripping climax? Were you held in suspense until the end or did you realize what the ending would be beforehand? Were you as emotionally stirred as the author apparently wanted you to be? Are you satisfied as to the final outcome? Are you chiefly interested in the events, the people, or the place? Section C: Characterization Are the characters true to life? Are they consistent throughout the action of the entire play? 14

Are the characters in keeping with the social and geographical background of the play? Do they arouse such feelings as sympathy, affection, disgust, admiration, or hatred on the part of the audience? Are their actions in keeping with their motives? Are the situations at the climax and conclusion the result of their inherent natures? Section D: Dialogue Style Did the dialogue retain your interest throughout the play? Is it consistent with the characters and the setting? Is it an end in itself or an adequate means of plot advancement and characterization? Did it make you think about the author or the characters themselves? Do you remember lines from the performance because of their appropriateness or beauty? If a dialect or dialects are used were they correct? Did the actors use them consistently? Would people of the class represented talk in real life as they do in the play? Is the power of expression worthy of the ideas expressed? Section E: Acting Were the actors’ interpretations of their roles correct from the standpoint of the play? Did each actor make his or her role a living individual? Were the actors artificial or natural in their technique? Were you conscious of the ways they sought to create effects? Did they grip you emotionally—did you weep, laugh, suffer, and exult with them? Were their voices pleasing and their presence magnetic? Did they remain in character every moment? Did or do you think of them as the characters they were depicting or as themselves? Did the actors use the play as a means of self-glorification, or were each of them an intrinsic part of the action at all times? Did each cooperate with the other actors, the director, and the author in interpreting the play: by knowing his or her lines, helping to focus attention on the center of interest, and by losing himself or herself in the part? Section F: Audience Reaction Was the audience attentive or restless during the performance? Was there a definite response—gasps, laughter, applause? Did the audience express any immediate appreciation of clever lines, dramatic situations, and skillful acting? Was the audience apathetic or animated, bored or buoyant, serious or scoffing? Was the applause spontaneous and whole-hearted, or politely perfunctory? Did it seem to you that some audience members enjoyed the play more than others? Was this because of their own personal background, or some other reason?


Understanding/Appreciating the Design Elements A performance does not just happen; it is the product of a great deal of teamwork. The technical elements of a production support the characters the actors create to present the audience with the illusionary reality that is theatre. Sets, lights, sound, props, and costumes create the environment in which the play lives. These elements combine with the audience’s imagination to fashion a theatrical reality that is different from our day-to-day lives yet recognizable by all involved. The following discussion questions are intended to help students focus on each of these technical elements and analyze its part in a production. Section A: Scenery 1. Before the performance began, what were your first impressions of the set design? How did it make you feel? Which of your senses were involved by the set design? 2. What was the physicality of the stage? Did the set incorporate any theatrical devices such as a rake, a thrust, ramps or stairs onstage, or the voms or pit in the audience? What type of action did you expect? 3. As the performance progressed, did the set change from scene to scene or did it remain the same for the entire play? Were the changes of location made by actual set alterations or by the actors’ use of the set? 4. How was the stage used? Did the action take place across the whole stage or was action contained in small areas? What could you tell about each environment and the time period of the used area? Was movement between areas fluid or rigid? Did the actors move around the set in purposeful motion or did action flow from one area to another? 5. What materials and color schemes were used for walls, the deck (stage floor), set pieces? Did the materials and colors fit the time and location of the play? Did the colors suggest a mood or atmosphere to you? 6. Were you able to concentrate on the action and characters or did the elements of the set attract your attention? 7. After viewing the performance, do you feel the set design supported the play? Did it make sense to you? Would you have done anything differently? What and why? Section B: Costumes 1. What could you tell about each of the characters based on his or her appearance before any action took place? Did the costumes influence your expectations or opinion of each character? 16

2. Did the costumes put you in the appropriate time period and geographical setting (if any)? Did the style of the costumes match or enhance the characters’ personalities and social situations and the mood of the play? 3. How did the colors and materials used compliment or contrast with the colors and materials of the set? Did the colors and materials group the characters in any way? Were there any parts of the costumes you found distracting or out of place? Section C: Lighting 1. What clues did the lighting give you about the mood or emotional tone of the play? Was the lighting from an identifiable source or did it blend into the setting? Was the lighting supportive of the action or distracting? Was it ever supposed to be distracting? Could you identify the colors that were used? Why do you think these particular shades were chosen? Did any one character have a particular shade or degree of lighting? 2. Sometimes lighting is used together with suggestive scenery or certain pieces of furniture to imply that a certain area onstage is always perceived as a specific place. Did you see this in this performance’s design? Section D: Sound 1. What types of sounds were used? Were the sounds environmental noise or in response to specific character actions (for example: crickets chirping in the summer or a gunshot)? 2. Was sound or music used to create or enhance the atmosphere, or to foreshadow events? 3. Were certain sounds or musical motifs associated with certain characters or repeated situations? 4. Did the sounds fit the situation or distract you from the performance? 5. Were the sounds correct for time period and location, or did they comment on the time and place? Section E: Props 1. Were the props appropriate to the time period and setting? Were they in keeping with the rest of the setting (including color choices in setting and costumes)? Did some or all of them comment on the setting as a whole? 2. Did the characters have all the props they needed for the scenes? Did they have too many props? Did they have fewer props than you expected?


3. What did you learn about the characters’ situation or background from their possessions? Remember that props include furniture, books, purses, wagons, plates and silverware—anything an actor touches. Section F: General 1. What non-actor aspect of the performance impacted you the most? Was this aspect more textual or physical? 2. Did the technical elements of the performance enhance or detract from your enjoyment of the play? 3. Would you have changed anything about this production? How would you have changed it? Why?

About the Playwright Shloime Zanvel Rappoport was born in Vitebsk, Russia, in 1863. Rappoport would later take on the pseudonym of Shloime Ansky. Ansky grew up as a Hasidic Jew, in a traditional Jewish Yiddish-speaking community. He became active in the Jewish Enlightenment, Haskala. Haskala encouraged Jews to turn away from their traditional lifestyle and beliefs, and to assimilate into the modern world. Ansky also became active in the Narodniki, a group of socialist revolutionaries. He wrote articles for the Narodniki’s journal, and worked among the Ansky at his desk peasants. Later, he became a member of the Jewish Worker’s Party, the Bund, and wrote articles and poems for their journal. In 1905, he joined the Socialist Revolutionary Party. Socialism forbids any sort of religious affiliation, but Ansky continued writing secular articles, poems, and short stories based on Jewish life. He wrote in both Yiddish and Russian. Around 1911, Ansky discovered that many Jews were abandoning their traditional lifestyle (as he had for a time). There was little documentation of the Eastern European Jewish way of life because Jews passed down much of their tradition orally. Now, many of the sons were moving to major urban centers and assimilating into Russian society. Concerned that the old ways would disappear forever, Ansky organized an ethnographic expedition to take photographs, record melodies of prayers and songs, and collect folktales, stories, customs, sayings, and antiques. From 1912 through 1914, Ansky led a group of ethnographers through 70 shtetls (small Jewish townships) in 3 provinces of the Ukraine (Podolia, Volhynia, and Kiev).


Ansky had no permanent residence in St. Petersburg, the center of the expedition’s research. He slept in relatives’ apartments or hotels and wrote in restaurants. His only possessions were the suit he was wearing, a coat, and suitcases filled with ethnographic paraphernalia. All his waking hours were dedicated to gathering as much information as he could before it was too late. The expedition was cut short in 1914 because of Russia’s Socialist revolution. Ansky’s followers were accused of being spies. Fortunately, a friend of Ansky’s from the Russian Anthropologic and Ethnographic Museum of Peter the Great bailed them out, but the mission was over. Ansky continued collecting on his own, and began assisting Jewish refugees who had been deported to central Russia. In 1917, the St. Petersburg Ethnographic Museum was shut down by the Bolsheviks, and all the artifacts from the Jewish collection were shoved in boxes. The following year, Ansky escaped Russia disguised as a priest, and formed a museum in Vilna, the capital of Lithuania. Throughout this period, pogroms (mob attacks on Jews and Jewish property) ravaged the region. In 1919, a pogrom killed one of Ansky’s close friends. Ansky never recovered from the shock, and suffered from heart trouble until his death in 1920. About the Adapter Joachim Neugroschel has translated 180 books from French, German, Italian, Russian, and Yiddish, including works by Marcel Proust (The Complete Short Stories of Marcel Proust), Thomas Mann (Death in Venice and Other Tales), Franz Kafka (The Metamorphosis and Other Stories), Sholem Aleichem, Herman Hesse (Siddhartha: An Indian Tale), Ernst Junger (Aladdin’s Problem, Eumeswil, and Details of Time: Conversations with Ernst Junger) and Elias Canetti (his complete memoirs: The Tongue Set Free, The Torch in My Ear, The Play of the Eyes). A winner of three PEN Translation Awards, he has also received the French-American Foundation Translation Prize. In 1996 he was appointed chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters of the French Republic. His adaptation of The Dybbuk was published in his collection of Yiddish literature, The Dybbuk and the Yiddish Imagination: A Haunted Reader, published by Syracuse University Press. (His translation also served as a source for playwright Tony Kushner’s A Dybbuk.) Other books about Jewish folklore include: The Shtetl (editor, translator), On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic Concepts in the Kabbalah (translator), Yenne Velt: The Great Works of Jewish Fantasy and Occult (compiler, translator) and Ansky’s World War I Diaries and Reports (translator). His translation of The Destruction of Galicia is due out soon. Setting Rachel Edwards Harvith Jews began settling in Russia around 1000 AD. They were not welcomed by the local population, and the only jobs they were able to get were the ones that were considered undesirable, such as tax collectors and merchants. This is where the stereotype of Jews being greedy emerged.


By 1400, Russian Jews lived in small towns they called shtetls (Yiddish for “small towns”). Each shtetl had its own unique character, but there were certain things that all shtetls had in common. Each had its own Rabbi (religious leader and decider of civil disputes), synagogue (house of prayer), and yeshiva (school/library dedicated to Biblical study), and lived according to the 613 mitzvot (Biblical laws dictating a spiritually and physically pure existence). Russian nobility began blaming the widespread Russian poverty on the Jews. By 1700, burning Jewish migration routes, ca. 1000 - 1500 and pillaging Jewish townships became so commonplace that many Jewish families spent their entire lives roaming through Western Russia, searching for a safe place to live. The places they found were often overcrowded and disease-ridden. At the same time, Jews were being persecuted in Germany and Poland. German and Poland territories were often annexed by Russia, becoming part of what was referred to as the Pale Settlement. This increased the dissemination of Yiddish, a language which blends Hebrew and German, throughout western Russia. These harsh circumstances did not diminish the Jews’ belief in their God, but strengthened it. Religiosity grew, with many Jews spending more and more time studying the Torah (the Jewish Bible), and becoming increasingly determined not to assimilate into Russian culture. This further aggravated the rest of the Russians. In 1861, Tsar Alexander II liberated the serfs with the Emancipation Edict. However, animosity against the Jews continued to increase. Things got so bad by the end of the 1800s that Russian Jews began fleeing to America in droves. Between 1870 and 1900, over half a million Russian Jews emigrated to the U.S. For those who stayed, the Russian Revolution meant more trouble. Russia, now the U.S.S.R., became communist and outlawed religion. Most of the Russian population complied, except for the Jews. Those who resisted were charged with treason and either killed or sent to Siberia. The 1990s brought yet another wave of migration to the U.S. In Russia today, only a tiny percentage is left of the once large Jewish population.


Synopsis Rachel Edwards Harvith In a nutshell, The Dybbuk is the story of a distraught young Hasidic man, Khonen, who inhabits the body of his beloved, Leah, when he learns she is betrothed to someone else. Leah’s family responds by having her exorcised against her will. Through the process of exorcism, the sins of Leah’s father are revealed, and the community learns why Khonen and Leah are destined to be together. Ansky wrote The Dybbuk in 1914. In many ways, Ansky’s foray into playwriting was a culmination of his work as an ethnographer. The Dybbuk contains many stories of Hasidic folklore and demonstrations of religious practices, seamlessly integrated into a captivating story of demonic possession and the triumph of love. So, what is a dybbuk, anyway? In Neugroschel’s adaptation, the Messenger explains to Leah: The souls of the dead do return to the world, but not as spirits within bodies. There are souls that transmigrate through several bodies, trying to purify themselves. The sinful souls come back as animals, as birds, as fish, or even plants—but they’re unable to purify themselves and so they wait until a holy man, a tzaddik, can liberate them and bring them salvation. And there are souls that enter a newborn baby and purify themselves through their own deeds . . . And there are homeless souls that find no rest, and so they enter living bodies to purify themselves. Such a soul is called a dybbuk . . . A more concrete definition of dybbuk can be found in the Jewish Heritage Online Magazine. There, a dybbuk is defined as “a restless soul or evil spirit that ‘impregnates’ a living person, usually for a limited period of time, causing mental illness and creating a separate personality for itself, and talking through that person’s mouth.” The term comes from the Hebrew word ledavek, meaning literally “to cling or adhere.” If the dybbuk does not leave the living person on its own accord, a Rebbe (a religious leader and holy man) will have to perform an exorcism. Such is the case in Ansky’s play. All this makes The Dybbuk sound pretty horrific—a strange blend of Fiddler on the Roof and The Exorcist, but there’s a lot more to Ansky’s play than that. First of all, unlike the situation in The Exorcist, possession of one’s body by a dybbuk is not a satanic possession. In Ansky’s play, the possession becomes one of love. [Gershon Winkler, in his study titled Dybbuk, describes other positive possessions: There are instances of the possessing soul being a positive force, benefiting the possessed, or sent to communicate an urgent message to the community. A magid, for example, is a state of possession wherein the


“invading” spirit is the soul of a holy person or an angelic being, drawn to the individual who merits the communication of heavenly secrets or the inspiration of profound insights. In some instances, too, the voice of another may speak from within the possessed person, but the alien spirit’s occupation is only temporary and periodic, induced by a process of meditation. . . .] Second, the play is not about cheap thrills. It is a genuine work of art, and in Neugroschel’s adaptation the dialogue fuses poetry and prose. A great deal can be learned from the play in terms of Jewish historic and religious background. As a folktale, it takes place in that never-never land of the group subconscious—a fairy tale, if you will. But this particular fairy tale was formulated in a very specific time and place. It speaks to the beliefs and experiences of Hasidic Jews who lived in Russia and Poland in the 18th and 19th centuries. However, the unique backdrop of The Dybbuk doesn’t prevent it from having eternal themes that transcend time and place—the dangers inherent in greed, the ability of love to transcend everything, even death, and the belief that what is considered uniquely human can, in its purest form, become Godly. Most importantly, The Dybbuk is an engaging and magical play to watch. The worldly and the supernatural meet and become interchangeable, characters appear and disappear without warning, rebbes communicate with the dead, and wandering souls take over living bodies. It all makes for a good story, but a marvelous play. Characters Leah

a young Hasidic woman whose mother died when she was born. In Hebrew her name means despondent.


a yeshiva student who has been dabbling in the Kabbalah. His name is derived from a Hebrew root word meaning merciful.


Leah’s father, a greedy man who, in his youth, was a good yeshiva student.

The Messenger a mysterious visitor who portends the future. Three Idlers

Hannah Esther

Men who spend their days at the synagogue studying, speaking to the rabbi, taking part in group prayers (as part of a minyan), exchanging stories, and so on. An older woman who comes to the synagogue so the students will pray for her ailing daughter.


the beadle (shames) for the Brinnitz synagogue.


Leah’s aunt, her mother’s sister, who has assumed her mother’s role since her death.



Leah’s best girlfriend.


Khonen’s friend, a yeshiva student.

Rabbi Azriel an ancient wise man from a long line of holy men. The Hebrew derivation of his name means God’s help. Mikhl Rabbi Shimsin

Azriel’s assistant (in Hebrew, his gabbe). the local rabbi in Miropolye.


Leah’s terrified groom (whom she rejects).


Menashe’s father.

Various yeshiva students, judges, townspeople, musicians and wedding guests. Vocabulary El-Khonen – El denotes the God of; therefore, the god of Khonen. The suffix el, as in Raziel and Michael, denotes an angel, by the way. a rikudl – a dance! Blow tekiah – a note that is sustained for 3 seconds. Blow shevorim – 3 1-second notes “rising in tone.” Blow teruah – a series of short staccato notes lasting a total of 3 seconds. These are some of the sounds of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, blown on the shofar. minyan (group prayer) – A group of 10 men convened to pray, particularly as part of a ritual. The website Judaism 101 advises that “in Judaism, prayer is largely a group activity rather than an individual activity. . . . A complete formal prayer service cannot be conducted without a quorum of at least 10 adult Jewish men; that is, at least 10 people who are obligated to fulfill the commandment to recite the prayers. This prayer quorum is referred to as a minyan (from a Hebrew root meaning to count or to number). Certain prayers and religious activities [including mourning] cannot be performed without a minyan. This need for a minyan has often helped to keep the Jewish community together in isolated areas.” In Orthodox synagogues, where the women sit . . . back of the room, or on the men’s section by a Men are not permitted to because they are

you will also find a separate section on an upper floor balcony, or in the the side of the room, separated from wall or curtain called a mechitzah. pray in the presence of women, supposed to have their minds on their


prayers, not on pretty girls. The holy ark - An acronym of aron kodesh, lit., holy chest. The cabinet where the Torah scrolls are kept. Torah scrolls – Judaism 101 tells us that “the scriptures that we use in services are written on parchment scrolls. They are always handwritten, in attractive Hebrew calligraphy. . . . You are not supposed to touch the parchment on these scrolls; some say because they are too holy; some say because the parchment, made from animal skins, is a source of ritual defilement; others say because your fingers’ sweat has acids that will damage the parchment over time. . . . The scrolls are kept covered with fabric, and often ornamented with silver crowns on the handles of the scrolls and a silver breastplate on the front. . . .” Torah - “The word Torah . . . can mean different things in different contexts. In its most limited sense, Torah refers to the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. But the word torah can also be used to refer to the entire Jewish bible (the body of scripture known to non-Jews as the Old Testament and to Jews as the Tanakh or Written Torah), or in its broadest sense, to the whole body of Jewish law and teachings. . . . “In addition to the written scriptures we have an ‘Oral Torah,’ a A Talmud page tradition explaining what the above scriptures mean and how to interpret them and apply the Laws. Orthodox Jews believe God taught the Oral Torah to Moses, and he taught it to others, down to the to the present day. This tradition was maintained in oral form only until about the 2nd century C.E. [the Common Era, what Christians call A.D.], when the oral law was compiled and written down in a document called the Mishnah. Over the next few centuries, additional commentaries elaborating on the Mishnah were written down in Jerusalem and Babylon. These additional commentaries are known as the Gemara. The Gemara and the Mishnah together are known as the Talmud. This was completed in the 5th century. . . .” Rabbi – “A rabbi is not a priest, neither in the Jewish sense of the term nor in the Christian sense of the term,” according to Judaism 101. “In the Christian sense of the term, a priest is a person with special authority to perform certain sacred rituals. A rabbi, on the other hand, has no more authority to perform rituals than any other adult male member of the Jewish community. . . . [Actually] a rabbi is simply a teacher, a person sufficiently educated in halakhah (Jewish law) and tradition to instruct the community and to answer questions and resolve disputes regarding halakhah, [but long ago] . . . rabbis took over the spiritual leadership of the Jewish community. In this sense, the rabbi has much the same role as a Protestant minister, ministering to the community, leading community religious services and dealing with many of the administrative matters related to the synagogue. However, [since] the rabbi’s status as rabbi does not give him any special authority to conduct religious services, . . . it is not unusual for a community to be without a rabbi, or for Jewish services to be conducted without a rabbi.”


Rebbe – “Rebbe is the term for the spiritual master and guide of a Hasidic [or Hasidic] community. The term is sometimes translated as ‘Grand Rabbi,’ but literally it simply means ‘my rabbi.’ A rebbe is also considered to be a tzaddik (see below). The position is usually hereditary. A rebbe has the final word over every decision in a Hasid’s life. . . . Outside of the Hasidic community, the term rebbe is sometimes used simply to refer to one’s own personal rabbi or any rabbi that a person has a close relationship with.” Tzaddik - The word tzaddik literally means “righteous one.” The term refers to a completely righteous individual, and generally indicates that the person has spiritual or mystical power. A tzaddik is not necessarily a rebbe or a rabbi, but the rebbe of a Hasidic community is considered to be a tzaddik. Badchen – a jester, merry maker or master of ceremonies at a wedding; at the end of the meal he announces the presents, lifting them up and praising the giver and the gift in a humorous manner. He might sing a very sad song to the bride to make the women cry, and announce the giving of alms to the poor. Numerical values of Hebrew letters – “Each letter in the alefbet [aka, the alphabet] has a numerical value. These values can be used to write numbers, as the Romans used some of their letters (I, V, X, L, C, M) to represent numbers. Alef through Yod have the values 1 through 10. Yod through Qof have the values 10 through 100, counting by 10s. Qof through Tav have the values 100 through 400, counting by 100s. Final letters have the same value as their non-final counterparts. “The number 11 would be rendered YodAlef, the number 12 would be Yod-Bet, the number 21 would be Kaf-Alef, the word Torah (Tav-Vav-Resh-He) has the numerical value 611, etc. The order of the letters is irrelevant to their value; letters are simply added to determine the total numerical value. The number 11 could be written as Yod-Alef, AlefYod, Heh-Vav, Dalet-Dalet-Gimmel or many other combinations of letters.” Kaddish – “Kaddish is commonly known as a mourner’s prayer, but . . . the prayer itself has nothing to do with death or mourning. In Judaism, death is not a tragedy, even when it occurs early in life or through unfortunate circumstances. Death is a natural process. Our deaths, like our lives, have meaning and are all part of G-d’s plan. In addition, we have a firm belief in an afterlife, a world to come, where those who have lived a worthy life will be rewarded. . . . “Mourning practices in Judaism are extensive, but they are not an expression of fear or distaste for death; [rather, they] have two purposes: to show respect for the dead (kavod ha-met), and to comfort the living (nihum avelim), who will miss the deceased.


The Kaddish prayer begins ‘May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified in the world that He created as He willed. May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days . . .’ and continues in much that vein. The real mourner’s prayer is El Molai Rachamim, which is recited at grave sites and during funerals. “Why, then, is Kaddish recited by mourners? After a great loss like the death of a parent, you might expect a person to lose faith in G-d, or to cry out against G-d’s injustice. Instead, Judaism requires a mourner to stand up every day, publicly (i.e., in front of a minyan), and reaffirm faith in G-d despite this loss. To do so inures to the merit of the deceased in the eyes of G-d, because the deceased must have been a very good parent to raise a child who could express such faith in the face of personal loss. . . . (A person is permitted to recite Kaddish for other close relatives as well as parents, but only if his parents are dead.) . . .” “Hasidism, a religious movement that combines joyful religiosity with mystic and messianic ideas, originates in the areas of Poland most ravaged by the Khmelnitsky massacres and the persecution of the 18th century. Israel Ben Eliezer, a charismatic rabbi, visited the Jewish communities as a miracle-worker (Ba’al Shem Tov), gave advice and guidance and collected disciples around him (Hasidim) [see The Baal Shem Tov, below]. After his death in 1760, his followers spread his teaching all over Eastern Europe. At the center of the movement are the ‘courts’ of the Hasidic rebbes, rabbinical dynasties that trace their origins to the founder. Today, important groups are centered around the Rebbe of Lubavich (the Habad movement), the Rebbe of Satmar (both since the 1940s in New A Hasid and his wife in typical dress of the 18th century

York), the Rebbe of Bratslav and the Rebbe of Gur (both in Jerusalem).”

Book of Raziel – “It is said that God took compassion on Adam after he had been banished from Eden, and so sent the archangel Raziel, whose name means ‘Secrets of God,’ to give him a book so that man might not only regain entry to the Garden of Paradise but remember that he was, as the image of God, the looker into the mirror of existence wherein he would perceive the divine Face. This book has been handed down, although degenerate written versions have obscured its content. An oral version still exists in Kabbalah.” This is the book Khonen’s friend Henekh thinks Khonen has been consulting. At the time of The Dybbuk (18th - 19th century) many Jews felt it was dangerous to stray from study of the Torah and Talmud.


ruble – Today the ruble is equal to about $27.85 American. kopek – There are 100 kopeks in the modern ruble, so the modern kopek is about 28¢. Marriage Traditions From: Jewfaq.org The method of finding a spouse, the form of the wedding ceremony, and the nature of the marital relationship are all explained in the Talmud: Acquiring a Spouse – The Mishnah specifies that a woman is acquired to be a wife in three ways: through money, a contract, and sexual intercourse. Ordinarily, all three of these conditions are satisfied, although only one is necessary to effect a binding marriage. Acquisition by money is normally satisfied by the wedding ring. It is important to note that although money is one way of “acquiring” a wife, the woman is not being bought and sold like a piece of property or a slave. This is obvious from the fact that the amount of money involved is nominal (according to the Mishnah, a perutah, a copper coin of the lowest denomination, was sufficient). . . .The wife’s acceptance of the money is a symbolic way of demonstrating her acceptance of the husband, just like acceptance of the contract or the sexual intercourse. To satisfy the requirements of acquisition by money, the ring must belong to the groom. It cannot be borrowed, although it can be a gift from a relative. It must be given to the wife irrevocably. In addition, the ring’s value must be known to the wife, so that there can be no claim that the husband deceived her into marrying by misleading her as to its value. In all cases, the Talmud specifies that a woman can be acquired only with her consent, and not without it. As part of the wedding ceremony, the husband gives the wife a ketubah . . . , the marriage contract. The ketubah spells out the husband’s obligations to the wife during marriage, conditions of inheritance upon his death, and obligations regarding the support of children of the marriage. It also provides for the wife’s support in the event of divorce. There are standard conditions; however, additional conditions can be included by mutual agreement. Marriage agreements of this sort were commonplace in the ancient Semitic world [it is not necessarily equivalent to a “pre-nup,” the prenuptial agreements in vogue with the well-to-do today]. . . . The process of marriage occurs in two distinct stages: kiddushin (betrothal) and nisuin (full-fledged marriage). Kiddushin occurs when the woman accepts the money, contract or sexual relations offered by the prospective husband. The word kiddushin . . . , meaning “sanctified,” reflects the sanctity of the marital relation; the root word also connotes something that is set aside for a specific sacred purpose: kiddushin sets aside the woman to be the wife of a particular man and no other. Kiddushin is far more binding than an engagement as we understand the term in modern English: once kiddushin is complete, the woman is legally the wife of the man. The relationship . . . can only be dissolved by death or divorce 27

[but] the mutual obligations created by the marital relationship do not take effect until the nisuin is complete. . . . Because marriage under Jewish law is essentially a private contractual agreement between a man and a woman, it does not require the presence of a rabbi but it is common . . . for rabbis to officiate, partly in imitation of the Christian practice and partly because the presence of a religious or civil official is required under United States civil law. . . . A Typical Wedding Ceremony - It is customary for the bride and groom not to see each other for a week preceding the wedding. . . . The day before the wedding, both the bride and the groom fast. Before the ceremony, the bride is veiled, in remembrance of the fact that Rebecca veiled her face when she was first brought to Isaac to be his wife. The ceremony itself lasts 20-30 minutes, and consists of the kiddushin and the nisuin. For the kiddushin, the bride approaches and circles the groom. Two blessings are recited over wine: the standard blessing over wine and one regarding the commandments related to marriage. The man then places the ring on woman’s finger and says, “Be sanctified . . . to me with this ring in accordance with the law of Moses and Israel.” After the kiddushin is complete, the ketubah is read aloud. The nisuin then proceeds. The bride and groom stand beneath the chuppah, a canopy held up by four poles, symbolic of their dwelling together and of the husband’s bringing the wife into his home. The importance of the chuppah is so great that the wedding ceremony is sometimes referred to as the chuppah. The bride and groom recite seven blessings . . . in the presence of a minyan. The essence of each of the seven blessings is [the ellipses below refer to the name of G-d, which is too sacred to be written here]: 1. . . . who has created everything for his glory 2. . . . who fashioned the Man


3. . . . who fashioned the Man in His image . . . 4. . . . who gladdens Zion [the Jewish people as a group] through her children 5. . . . who gladdens groom and bride 6. . . . who created joy and gladness . . . who gladdens the groom with the bride and the standard prayer over wine. The couple then drinks the wine. The groom smashes a glass (or a small symbolic piece of glass) with his right foot, to symbolize the destruction of the Temple [in Jerusalem, in the 2nd century C.E. ]. The couple then retires briefly to a completely private room, symbolic of the groom bringing the wife into his home. This is followed by a festive meal, which is followed by a repetition of the seven blessings. Exuberant music and dancing traditionally accompany the ceremony and the reception. Olam Ha-Ba: The Afterlife From: Judaism 101 Traditional Judaism firmly believes that death is not the end of human existence. However, because Judaism is primarily focused on life here and now rather than on the afterlife, Judaism does not have much dogma about the afterlife, and leaves a great deal of room for personal opinion. It is possible for an Orthodox Jew to believe that the souls of the righteous dead go to a place similar to the Christian heaven, or that they are reincarnated through many lifetimes, or that they simply wait until the coming of the messiah, when they will be resurrected. Likewise, Orthodox Jews can believe that the souls of the wicked are tormented by demons of their own creation, or that wicked souls are simply destroyed at death, ceasing to exist. Biblical References to the Afterlife. Some scholars claim that belief in the afterlife is a teaching that developed late in Jewish history. It is true that the Torah emphasizes immediate, concrete, physical rewards and punishments rather than abstract future ones. . . . However . . . the Torah indicates in several places that the righteous will be reunited with their loved ones after death, while the wicked will be excluded from this reunion. . . Certain sins are punished by the sinner being “cut off from his people.” See, for example, Gen. 17:14 and Ex. 31:14. This punishment is referred to as kareit (kahREHYT) (literally, “cutting off,” but usually translated as “spiritual excision”), and it means that the soul loses its portion in the World to Come. Later portions of the Tanakh speak more clearly of life after death and the World to Come. . . . Resurrection and Reincarnation. Belief in the eventual resurrection of the dead is a fundamental belief of traditional Judaism. . . . The resurrection of the dead will occur in the Messianic Period, a time referred to in Hebrew as the Olam Ha-Ba, the World to Come, but that term is also used to refer to the spiritual afterlife. When the messiah comes to initiate the perfect world of peace and prosperity, the righteous dead will be brought back to life and given the opportunity to


experience the perfected world that their righteousness helped to create. The wicked dead will not be resurrected. There are some mysticism schools of thought that believe resurrection is not a one-time event, but is an ongoing process. The souls of the righteous are reborn to continue the ongoing process of tikkun olam, mending of the world. Some sources indicate that reincarnation is a routine process, while others indicate that it only occurs in unusual circumstances, where the soul left unfinished business behind. Belief in reincarnation is also one way to explain the traditional Jewish belief that every Jewish soul in history was present [with Moses] at [Mount] Sinai and agreed to Phylacteries containing Torah passages, worn on the forehead by rabbis and others the covenant with G-d. (Another explanation: engaged in private prayer and study that the soul exists before the body, and these unborn souls were present in some form at Sinai). Belief in reincarnation is commonly held by many Hasidic sects, as well as some other mystically-inclined Jews. Olam Ha-Ba: The World to Come. The spiritual afterlife is referred to in Hebrew as Olam Ha-Ba (oh-LAHM hah-BAH) . . . . The Olam Ha-Ba is another, higher state of being. In the Mishnah, one rabbi says, “This world is like a lobby before the Olam HaBa. Prepare yourself in the lobby so that you may enter the banquet hall.” Similarly, the Talmud says, “This world is like the eve of Shabbat [Jewish Sabbath], and the Olam HaBa is like Shabbat. He who prepares on the eve of Shabbat will have food to eat on Shabbat.” We prepare ourselves for the Olam Ha-Ba through Torah study and good deeds. The Talmud states that all Israel [that is, all Jewish people] has a share in the Olam Ha-Ba. However, not all “shares” are equal. A particularly righteous person will have a greater share in the Olam Ha-Ba than the average person. In addition, a person can lose his share through wicked actions. There are many statements in the Talmud that a particular mitzvot will guarantee a person a place in the Olam Ha-Ba, or that a particular sin will lose a person’s share in the Olam Ha-Ba, but these are generally regarded as hyperbole. . . . It is important to remember that unlike some religions, Judaism is not focused on the question of how to get into heaven [but] on life and how to live it. . . . We perform the mitzvot because it is our privilege and our sacred obligation to do so. We perform them out of a sense of love and duty, not out of a desire to get something in return. In fact, one of the first bits of ethical advice in Pirkei Avot (a book of the Mishnah) is: “Be not like servants who serve their master for the sake of receiving a reward; instead, be like servants who serve their master not for the sake of receiving a reward, and let the awe of Heaven [meaning G-d, not the afterlife] be upon you.” . . .


Gan Eden and Gehinnom The place of spiritual reward for the righteous is often referred to in Hebrew as Gan Eden (GAHN ehy-DEHN) (the Garden of Eden). This is not the same place where Adam and Eve were; it is a place of spiritual perfection. Specific descriptions of it vary widely from one source to another. One source says that the peace that one feels when one experiences Shabbat properly is merely one-sixtieth of the pleasure of the afterlife. Other sources compare the bliss of the afterlife to the joy of sex or the warmth of a sunny day. Ultimately, though, the living can no more understand the nature of this place than the blind can understand color. Only the very righteous go directly to Gan Eden. The average person descends to a place of punishment and/or purification, generally referred to as Gehinnom (guh-heeNOHM) (in Yiddish, Gehenna), but sometimes as She’ol or by other names. According to one mysticism view, every sin we commit creates an angel of destruction (a demon), and after we die we are punished by the very demons that we created. Some views see Gehinnom as one of severe punishment, a bit like the Christian Hell of fire and brimstone. Other sources merely see it as a time when we can see the actions of our lives objectively, see the harm that we have done and the opportunities we missed, and experience remorse for our actions. The period of time in Gehinnom does not exceed 12 months, and then [the person] ascends to take his place on Olam Ha-Ba. Only the utterly wicked do not ascend at the end of this period; their souls are punished for the entire 12 months. Sources differ on what happens at the end of those 12 months: some say that the wicked soul is utterly destroyed and ceases to exist while others say that the soul continues to exist in a state of consciousness of remorse. This 12-month limit is repeated in many places in the Talmud, and it is connected to the mourning cycles and the recitation of Kaddish [see Kaddish in Vocabulary, above]. . . .

Kabbalah: The Misunderstood Doctrine From: Judaism 101, Tracey Rich Mr. Rich is not a rabbi but a studious man who has launched a website, Judaism 101, in which he defines many basic Jewish concepts, terms and traditions. His essay about Kabbalah was so clear that I decided to “embed” it into this guide. I would recommend his site (as well as the Jewish Heritage Online Magazine and Gates to Jewish Heritage) to anyone wishing to better understand Judaism. Please note: Jews do not write or represent any of their names for God (and there are several) in any form; thus, this abbreviation. When non-Jews ask about Judaism, they commonly ask questions like: Do you believe in heaven and hell? In angels or the devil? What happens to the A Jew with his phylacteries and prayer soul after death? What is the nature of G-d and the shawl, 19th century Podolia universe? The answers to questions like these define most religions; in fact, I have heard some people say that the purpose of religion is to answer these kinds of questions. Yet in 31

Judaism, most of these cosmological issues are wide open to personal opinion. The areas of Jewish thought that most extensively discuss these issues, Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism, were traditionally not even taught to people until the age of 40, when they had completed their education in Torah and Talmud. Mysticism and mystical experiences have been a part of Judaism since the earliest days. The Torah contains many stories of mystical experiences, from visitations by angels to prophetic dreams and visions. The Talmud considers the existence of the soul and when it becomes attached to the body. . . . The Talmud contains vague hints of a mystical school of thought that was taught only to the most advanced students and was not committed to writing. In the Middle Ages, many of these mystical teachings were committed to writing in books. . . . Like most subjects of Jewish beliefs, the area of mysticism is wide open to personal interpretation. Some traditional Jews take mysticism very seriously. Mysticism is an integral part of Hasidism, for example, and passages from Kabbalistic sources are routinely included in traditional prayer books. Other traditional Jews take mysticism with a grain of salt. One prominent Orthodox Jew, when introducing a speaker on the subject of Jewish mysticism, said basically, “It’s nonsense, but it’s Jewish nonsense, and the study of anything Jewish, even nonsense, is worthwhile.” [☺] The mystical school of thought came to be known as Kabbalah, from the Hebrew root Qof-Bet-Lamed, meaning “to receive, to accept.” The word is usually translated as tradition. In Hebrew, the word does not have any of the dark, sinister, evil connotations that it has developed in English. For example, the English word cabal (a secret group of conspirators) is derived from the Hebrew word Kabbalah, but neither the Hebrew word nor the mystical doctrines have any evil implications to Jews. Kabbalah is one of the most grossly misunderstood parts of Judaism. I have received several messages from non-Jews describing Kabbalah as “the dark side of Judaism.” These misunderstandings stem largely from the fact that the teachings of Kabbalah have been so badly distorted by non-Jewish mystics and occultists. Kabbalah was popular among Christian intellectuals during the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods, who reinterpreted its doctrines to fit into their Christian dogma. For example, one such source (the Kabbalah Denudata, commonly available in New Age bookstores) states that the Ten Sefirot have something to do with the Christian Trinity because they are sometimes divided up into groups of three, despite the fact that the Sefirot are divided up into many groups of varying numbers, that these groupings overlap, that the grouping the author refers to is not comprised of a father, son and spirit, but of a male, a female and neutral, and so forth. Others have wrenched Kabbalistic symbolism out of context for use in tarot card readings and other forms of divination and magic that were never a part of the original Jewish teachings. I do not mean to suggest that magic is not a part of Kabbalah. The most hidden, secretive part of Kabbalah, commonly known as “practical Kabbalah,” involves use of hidden knowledge to affect the world in ways that could be described as magic. The Talmud and other sources ascribe supernatural activities to many great rabbis. Some rabbis pronounced a name of G-d and ascended into heaven to consult with G-d and the angels on issues of great public concern. One scholar is said to have created an artificial man by reciting various names of G-d. Much later stories tell of a rabbi who created a man out of clay (a golem) and brought it to life by putting in its mouth a piece of paper


with a name of G-d on it. However, this area of Kabbalah is known by very few, and practiced by even fewer. It is important to note that all of these magical effects were achieved through the power of G-d, generally by calling upon the name of G-d. These practices are no more “evil” than the miracles that Christians ascribe to Jesus; in fact, according to some of my mystically-inclined friends, Jesus performed his miracles using kabbalistic techniques. . . Excerpts from: Kabbalah: The Way of the Jewish Mystic Perle Epstein begins her intriguing survey of how Jewish mysticism arose with the following anecdote: A 13th century Jewish mystic was approached by a disciple who wished to learn the art of hitbodedut, or meditation. “Are you in a condition of perfect equilibrium?” asked the master. “I think so,” said the disciple, who had prayed religiously and practiced good deeds. “When someone insults you, do you still feel injured? When you receive praise, does your heart expand with pleasure?” The would-be disciple thought for a moment and replied somewhat sheepishly: “Yes, I suppose I do feel hurt when insulted and proud when praised.” “Well then, go out and practice detachment from worldly pain and pleasure for a few more years. Then come back and I will teach you how to meditate.” That novice most surely did not pack up and move off to a cave to fast his ego into submission, for the codes and daily practices of traditional Judaism were all he needed to guide him toward egolessness. The prayer over his morning bread reminded him of the divine ground upon which his sustenance rested. He could lose his selfimportance in observing the “miracle” of ordinary acts like breathing, eating, sleeping, making love to his wife, and trading with his neighbor. With a strongly concentrated mind, right in the middle of everyday life, the Jewish novice mystic prepared himself for enlightenment by climbing a spiritual ladder which, though rooted in the earth, would inevitably lead him to God. Undistracted observation of the commandments eventually humbled his ego to the point where he actually experienced a state called Awe in the continued presence of the Almighty. Awe would gradually turn to Love, and Love to Cleaving [devekuth]. “Love the Lord thy God . . . hearken to His voice, and . . . cleave unto Him; for that is thy life and the length of thy days,” says the author of Deuteronomy, a pronouncement that has been taken literally by Jewish mystics from biblical times onward. From this perspective, much of the Bible itself can be read as an instructive manual which charts the mystic way through withdrawal from sensory attachment (Ecclesiastes); confronts the heights and abysses of spiritual struggle (Psalms); and depicts the soul in union with its creator (Song of Songs). . . . Moses, the greatest Jewish spiritual master, had obtained the perfect devekuth. Yet he remained whole, alert, calm. All this Moses accomplished in the high place called [Mount] Sinai which, sages have said, meant a state of meditation figuratively referred to as Sinai as well as an actual mountain. Even the prophet’s own sons could not assume the teaching; only Joshua, who “did not depart” from Moses’ side, remaining in perfect hitbodedut with him from his boyhood, could absorb the “tradition,” and pass it on to the 33

generations which followed. These teachings, practiced in seclusion, come down to us as Kabbalah. Combining contemplation, sensory deprivation, chanting, and ritual worship, the key to the tradition was kavanna, a form of one-pointed concentration which also signified pure devotion. With his body freed from worldly attachment, his mind cut off from its ruminations and his heart set on God, the Kabbalist pronounced the sacred Name [of God]. When the sense of the words had disappeared entirely, when the devotee no longer could define where he began and his “prayer” ended, he had reached devekuth. [Then,] the Kabbalist marshaled all his faculties and visualized any one of a number of great moments in the history of his people: the community of Israel gathered at Mount Sinai; Abraham and Isaac at Mount Moriah; the Temple service performed by the High Priest. Inscribing these scenes in all their splendor on his mind’s eye, he rose to inaugurate the daily prayers with true kavanna. . . . Prayer with kavanna, according to Maimonides, meant standing directly in the presence of the Shekhinah (God’s female, immanent presence). . . The Kabbalah offers clear-cut instructions for Jacob’s ladder, from The achieving ecstatic states (Hasidism); rational, selfWorks of John Milton investigative meditation (Lurianic Kabbalah); concentration and visualization techniques (Abulafian tzeruf); and psychological insight meditation (Merkabah). . . . For the Jew, community and religious observance are one. The mystic cannot isolate himself from his fellow men even in his esoteric practices, for the core of his faith, the divine revelation [to Moses] at Mount Sinai, appeared not to one man, but to a community numbering 600,000 souls. The Jewish mystical experience has remained communal ever since. Suffering and persecution have infused it with hopes for messianic redemption; exile has imbued it with nationalism. . . . For the Kabbalist, thought, deed, and goal are directly related; therefore the more he refines his mind, body, and soul, the more he resembles God. Since he believes that man is literally created in the image of God, the mystic works to polish himself until he becomes so brilliantly clear that he reflects nothing but God. . . . The successful pilgrim, having integrated his psychological, ethical, and spiritual selves, will continue [on a “virtual” journey through the mystic world] until he reaches a clear space. Here grows a tree whose branches are made of ten differently colored spheres, each representing an ascending “world,” or level of spiritual perception. Having come upon this “tree of life,”


the mystic knows that he has reached the point where he is truly ready to climb. [His efforts have] led him into the hidden Pardes, the garden in which there grows the sacred tree which marks his ascent to God. . . . He distills God’s presence from the stars, people, food—from all of life around him. As his senses are further refined, he will become conversant with the ethereal world of angelic beings, pure color and sound, until finally he reaches the unmanifest level of awareness called devekuth, cleaving to God, the highest state attainable by human consciousness. . . Since the Middle Ages the cosmic tree of life with its ten spheres, or divine attributes, has been the central image of kabbalistic meditation, . . . with its inner “lights,” corresponding colors and metals, and divine names. . . . The spheres on the tree were [also] coordinated with letters, the soul and body parts by the sixteenth-century mystics of Safed: CROWN = Aleph and unifying level of soul. WISDOM = Beth and ascending and descending level of soul. UNDERSTANDING = Gimel and undifferentiated consciousness. LOVING-KINDNESS = Daleth and animal self at its highest point. JUDGMENT = Heh and spiritual consciousness tied to the body by the nexus of breath. BEAUTY = Vav and the blood. ENDURANCE = Zayin and the bone. MAJESTY = Chet and the flesh. FOUNDATION = Tet and the sinews. SOVEREIGNTY = Yod and the skin. For Jewish mystics, the Hebrew language has always corresponded physically to the things it designated. Merely writing a Hebrew letter could produce a unifying effect on mind and body, putting one in touch with the “higher” world. Imitating God, so to speak, the Kabbalist “created” himself anew by calling into being his deepest spiritual potential through manipulating letters—the ground, form, and sound of the physical universe, the tools with which God had created the world. Three primordial letters, the aleph (‫)א‬, mem (‫)מ‬, and shin (‫)ש‬, At prayer in the synagogue, Alter Kaczyne contained all potential elements; twelve “simple” letters followed, serving as a channel for the divine energy which sustains the universe. Insofar as he is himself composed of elements, man, the microcosm, is “imprinted” by all of these letters on his own person. Meditation performed by a pure human being on any letter—as projected through its


corresponding sphere, or divine attribute—was tantamount to meditation on the entire Creation. Comprised of the same basic substance as the stars, a man could become one with the furthest star; vibrating with the same energy as the birds, a man could learn the language of the birds. . . . To the Kabbalist the letters represent a combination of name and form that comprises our physically known universe. Like the physicist who attempts, through “quarks,” to locate the simplest particle, the essence or fundamental quality of matter, the Kabbalist, by turning name and form (conveniently packaged in the pictographic letters of the Hebrew alphabet, which includes number and dimension as well) into a kind of divine atom, pierces through the letter to its essence, making every possible combination and permutation of it afforded by nature, so as to leap beyond nature. To this end, he manipulates the first Name of God, that quintessential force informing all matter. With a mighty effort, he unites his own human energy with that which radiates throughout the Crown of all that is, was, and will be. Through the power innately occupying the word, he confronts the permanent in the impermanent, the One in the many. . . . This Kabbalistic view of language is charmingly interpreted in a Tunisian version of a story from The Thousand and One Nights. A Brahman named Padmanaba, trained in Kabbalah, explains to his disciple how the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, when pronounced with the proper spiritual intention, evoke their corresponding angels: Each letter is ruled by an angel [which] is a ray of an outflow of the virtues of the Almightiness and qualities of God. The angels which dwell in the earthly and in the heavenly world rule those who abide in our earthly one. The letters form the words, then the words the prayers, and it is the angels who, designated by the letters and assembled in the written and spoken words, work the wonders at which ordinary men are amazed. . . . [Thirteenth century Spanish mystic Abraham Abulafia could even manipulate heavenly beings through meditation on letters. He told his followers,] the forms of the angels Uriel, Raphael, Gabriel, and so on, the once-terrifying “Keepers of the Gates,” . . . were merely names for human tendencies which the meditator could subdue and conquer by personifying them as angels and letters. . . . A . . . contemporary of Abulafia’s . . . , Isaac of Akko [could write diary entries] while he was in a state of trance resulting from the mental manipulation of letters. . . . [Following Isaac’s practices, worldly] detachment was raised to an ascetic level not found [elsewhere]. [But] solitude, according to Isaac [in a departure from kabbalistic tradition], meant total hermitic withdrawal from the world. . . . As Isaac put it: “What is good for the body is bad for the soul and vice versa . . . for the soul [seeks] to attach itself to the . . . peace supernal . . . and from this comes great discomfort to the body, in the form of mortification, and mental stricture in meditation . . . all necessary conditions for reception of the Holy Spirit.” In short, Isaac of Akko told his students to “kill the self for the Torah,” and advocated constant meditation and sensory deprivation. . . .


More significant for Kabbalah practice . . . was Isaac’s unique reinterpretation of the Mosaic experience and his practical adaptation of its symbolism. Legend claims that “Moses saw the Torah written in the air of the heavens in black fire on white fire.” ([Eighteenth century mystic Moses Luzzatto agreed]: “[The words of the Torah] are truly firelike . . . All its words and letters are like coals seemingly extinguished, but when anyone begins to work on it, a great many-colored flame arises from every one of its letters. That is the knowledge hidden in each letter. . . .”) Isaac of Akko mentally formed a mandala with the images of air, mountain, and fire, instructing the disciple to “climb” the mountain to the highest point in his concentration and “lift” his eyes, letting them rove across the sky (“emptiness”) until they focused on the horizon point where sky and earth met. Within a visualized circle in the sky, the Kabbalist next “inscribed” the entire Torah . . . . [Sixteenth century scholar] Isaac Luria ( . . . called “Ashkenazi” to denote his Western European ancestry) was not ordinary child. [His nickname, Ari, is an anagram of Rabbi Isaac Ashkenazi.] Before the Ari’s birth, his father was visited by the prophet Elijah, who announced: “Through him shall be revealed the teaching of the Kabbalah to the world.” . . . When he was only eight years old, the boy already proved himself to be a talmudic genius . . . One day . . . the young scholar’s curiosity was aroused when he saw a man reading his prayers from a manuscript depicting kabbalistic interpretations of the liturgy, [whom he approached. The man admitted he] could not even read the . . . volume he was holding, [prompting Luria to plead] with him to sell the manuscript . . . . The book was none other than the Zohar (Book of Splendor), which Luria studied laboriously for the next eight years . . . [following] an ascetic course prescribed for him by what he called a “heavenly impetus.” [The Zohar is “a massive compendium of stories and biblical exegesis [which] decoded the esoteric Torah and presented the devotee with a detailed map of the visionary landscape he would be exploring,” Epstein explains.] Retreating in solitude to a small cottage . . . , he spent five days alone in constant study and meditation, returning to his family in the city for the Sabbath. Prayer, fasting, and the Zohar remained his only companions for two years, at the end of which, the prophet Elijah appeared in a vision to initiate him personally. Each night after that, the Ari found himself in the company of angelic hosts and great departed sages . . . All the secrets of reincarnation were revealed to him during these nightly meetings. Most impressive were his nightly communications with [the Prophet] Elijah, from whom he derived—“mouth to ear”—his entire corpus of kabbalistic wisdom. . . . According to Luria, the task of the Kabbalist in his private meditations encompassed the universe. Once the purified, humbled mind had attached itself to its divine source, it was obliged to plunge downward into the descending worlds with renewed strength and withdraw the holy sparks from the husks of matter encasing every

20th century yeshiva student, Vishniac


being, flower, mineral, and demon inhabiting them. For this purpose, the Ari developed an entirely new system of concentration, depicting his elaborate mental exercises in the form of kavannot (contemplative symbols denoting specific visualizations) over the letters and phrases of the daily prayers. . . . In the Ari’s system, real prayer could only be uttered by a pure man who had disappeared into the infinite reaches of the cosmic Crown even before he opened his mouth to utter God’s praises. . . . [He] taught his disciples how to walk, how to eat and how to pray . . . [and] even gave them appropriate meditative chants for putting on Sabbath clothes! . . . “Everything,” said the Ari, “depends on the intensity of your concentration and your attachment on high. Do not remove this from before your eyes.” . . . [Fortunately] the Ari [inscribed his exercises] in Sephardic prayer books that, two centuries after his death, also served as meditation manuals for the Baal Shem Tov’s ecstasy-seeking European Hasidim. . . . [In many ways Hasidism returned Jewish mysticism to its roots because of the Baal Shem Tov’s populist point of view.] The Zohar is still too opaque for most men to penetrate; manipulation of the sacred Names [of God] is for the elect; . . . only Hasidism is mysticism for the masses. Nothing more than simple prayer comprises its method; one need only surrender to its [holy men or] tzaddikim in order to set foot on its path. Like Buddhism, it was initiated by a reforming holy man, a visionary democrat who rebelled against the dry, crabbed, The Baal Shem Tov’s synagogue, and pompous ritualism into which the Brahmans of his in Medzibozh faith had fallen. Israel ben Eleazar, the Baal Shem Tov, or Master of the Holy Name, took the cosmology and practice of the Lurianic Kabbalah and made it accessible to the capacities of ordinary men. The heart of his teaching is devekuth [of a very] personal and emotional [sort]. The Baal Shem Tov emphasized devekuth in the “here and now,” not by means of fasts and self-mortification but through joyful celebration of the Divine in everyday life. For him “meditation” was man’s delighted awareness of himself in the midst of living. Physical acts intended as worship of God and performed in a state of cleaving to the Absolute became religious acts. [Like the Ari ben Eleazar held that] alien or distracting thoughts were products of the husks of matter which had interspersed themselves among the divine lights; so the Baal Shem Tov advised his disciples to distill the holy sparks from even these seemingly “sinful” thoughts by examining them and, if necessary, “correcting” them or discarding them altogether. . . . [Rachel Edwards Harvith, dramaturg for The Dybbuk, notes that there are 4 central tenets to Hasidism: Hitlahavut (religious ecstasy), Avoda (service), Kavana (intention), and Shiflut (humility):


1. Hitlahavut is “embracing God beyond time and place.” The Baal Shem Tov believed that it was crucial to embrace God with your entire being, for to be able to experience paradise after death, you must first be able to have felt God on a deeper level than through study alone. Hasidim spend a great deal of time in deep, meditative prayer. 2. Avoda is “the service of God in time and place.” The Baal Shem Tov taught that you will only find God if you seek Him out through service. One serves God through obeying the 613 mitzvot [that is, any of the 613 commandments that Jews are obligated to observe. It can also refer to any Jewish religious obligation, or more generally to any good deed.]. The mitzvot teach you how to live life so that every action is as holy as prayer, even eating and sleeping. 3. Kavana is “the mystery of a soul directed to a goal.” Note that it is a goal, not goals, for the only goal worth seeking is redemption. Hasidim believe that the messiah will come and redeem the world at any moment, and so the mission of man is to work toward the redemption of the world, when all souls will return home to God purified. 4. Shiflut is the recognition that while all humans are important, they are each only a part of a bigger picture. Hasidim believe that because everything only happens once, individuals are engraved in eternity. No individual is ever duplicated, and so each person has a certain unique quality that s/he must cultivate and make perfect. It is his/her contribution to the world. However, this contribution should not swell the individual with pride, because each person is only one part of the divine plan. Everyone should recognize the important contributions of those around them in bringing the world closer to redemption.] Hitlahavut, the Hasidic brand of Enthusiasm, seeded the way for the comic spirit that characterizes the movement and distinguishes it from all other schools of Jewish mysticism. Hasidic enthusiasm was part of joy, and joy was not otherworldly bliss but earthy humor. In many cases, the comic spirit of Hasidism approaches the “Crazy Wisdom” of the Buddhists. Among the Hasidim, antic masters abound, tweaking noses, embarrassing th pompous rich men in public, and even 20 century klezmer musicians, ensuring arranging happy marriages for the children of “spirited” Hasidic gatherings everywhere! their disciples. . . . Enthusiasm was the proof of one’s contact with the divine reality. Ecstasy occurred . . . as a spontaneous outflow of energy in response to this world and to the God that lives in its every stone, crawling


insect, and child. . . . Prayer, said the Baal Shem Tov, is only acceptable to God if it flows from a joyous heart. Enthusiasm, not suffering, was the “great way” for a man to unite with the upper spheres and “break through all skies [the seven heavens] in one act.” ... The legends of the Hasidic masters . . . overflow with references to the wonders effected by prayerful holy men. . . . Miracles and wonders sat side by side with the earthy, even with the coarse and ugly, aspects of life in the shtetl which, for the Jew, could mean instant annihilation at the hands of the anti-Semitic hordes surrounding him [see Podilia/Jews in Ukraine, below]. Still, interspersed between its superstitions and amulets, demons and dybbuks, Hasidism provided broad cosmic perspectives for wretched ghetto dwellers, and endowed them with a sanctity that reached deeply beyond their ragged parochialism and penetrated their souls. . . . Most tzaddikim used the medium of the story or parable as vehicles for their teachings. . . . The difference between other spiritual masters and the Hasidic tzaddikim is perfectly illustrated by the change in their title: Rao (Master), the respectful form of address, was transformed by Hasidim into Rebbe, a diminutive, personal, and untranslatable version of the word that denotes affection. . . . Born around 1698 in the western Ukraine region, Israel ben Eleazar was orphaned early and left to the care of the sympathetic Jews of his village. . . . An early prodigy, the Baal Shem Tov hid his wisdom under a mantle of laziness and near idiocy. He worked as a janitor in the local synagogue, but secretly studied Kabbalah all night. [Soon after he married] Israel and his loyal wife, [daughter of a renown rabbi,] moved into an isolated retreat in the Carpathian Mountains, where he studied and meditated. . . . One day in May of 1734, the Baal Shem Tov descended from the mountains . . . and announced . . . that the time had come for him to reveal himself to the world . . . The Baal Shem Tov’s fame as a holy man and healer spread quickly, and thousands of villagers flocked to him for spiritual encouragement, healing, comfort, and blessings. [At the same time] he trained disciples, formalizing the mystical techniques for divine realization which came to be identified as Hasidic. . . . In 1760 the Baal Shem Tov died, but not before he had brought the Kabbalah down from the angels and placed it securely in the physical hands of men. . . . One of the welter of tzaddikim who emerged in the wake of the Baal Shem Tov [was] Rebbe Nachmann of Breslov, great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, a wandering Hasid who gave enlightening discourses on meditation anywhere he happened to find himself. [The rabbi who accompanies Menashe, the groom Leah rejects in The Dybbuk, is named Nachmann . . . hmm . . .] A true scion of the Baal Shem Tov’s family tree, Nachmann, the most hopeful, cheerful, and optimistic of Hasidim, was born on April 4, 1772, in Medzibozh, the town where his great-grandfather had held court. His mother was the daughter of the Baal Shem Tov’s saintly daughter; his father, one of the master’s leading disciples. At thirteen, Nachmann was married to the daughter of a prominent rabbi who gave the young couple a home for the first five years of their wedded life. Even at this tender age Rebbe Nachmann had attracted a following of his own, many of whom accompanied him when . . . he moved his household to Medvedevka. There he preached for ten years, attracting more Hasidim, and gathering around himself a particularly illustrious circle of disciples. His tenure in Medvedevka interrupted by a


mysterious pilgrimage to the Holy Land and a feud with a prominent opponent of Hasidism, Rebbe Nachmann next made his home in Breslov, his final stopping place. . . . Although he emphasized joyful and spontaneous meditation above all else, Rebbe Nachmann had begun his career with severe fasting that eventually affected his throat and weakened his constitution. Concealing these childhood “devotions” from his family, he nevertheless managed to study the Talmud, Bible, Zohar, and Lurianic Kabbalah. While still a youth, he exhibited the power of total recall in his study of the Torah . . . . For years, he secluded himself and engaged in fervent chanting and prayer, first reciting only the introductory verses of the Psalms and then crying out in wordless prayer to God. These “personal conversations” [with God] became the mainstay of his contemplative practices. Young Nachmann hid his religious preoccupations well; he skated on the village pond in winter, played games with boys his age, and became something of a star athlete. But in his very private life, he forced himself to sit for hours in protracted concentration, thinking, “I only have this one day. I will ignore tomorrow and all future days. I only have this one day alone.” Continued mental and physical exertions of this sort eventually resulted in his acquisition of supernormal powers. . . . [As Rabbi Nachmann] he exhorted his Hasidim to give up all desire Three generations of scholars for wealth, intellectual knowledge, beauty, and other possessions. Worldly pleasures, he said, were “like sunbeams in a dark room. They may actually seem solid, but one who tries to grasp a sunbeam finds nothing in his hand.” Once cleansed of desire, the Breslover Hasid [that is, the Hasids of Breslov] could approach the meditation of joy. . . The Breslover Hasid trained himself to “forget” his business, his current and past experiences, his household affairs, and any real or imagined transgressions he had committed. Immediately after an event had occurred, he checked it from ever again intruding on his mind. Living entirely in the present moment was all the Rebbe ever demanded of the disciple in the way of “mortification,” for Nachmann never forgot the depressions he had endured as a result of his own youthful asceticism. . . . Only hitbodedut, he felt, could successfully show a man that his “true face is his mind, which illuminates it from within.” . . . Rebbe Nachmann enjoined his disciples to concentrate on spiritual impulses so strongly as to make them come true [and] to become literally obsessed with the desire for devekuth. Directed at the heart, this attitude was called “God’s counsel.” . . . [He] encouraged his disciples to perform piously in their everyday dealings [but] he was flexible enough to permit unlearned Hasidim to pray out in the meadows, and encouraged them to communicate with God in their native tongues when they could not speak Hebrew. For Rebbe Nachmann, speaking from the depths of the heart was always far more important than exhibiting scholarship.


[In 1811,] having contracted tuberculosis and sure of his oncoming death, Rebbe Nachmann asked his disciples to remove him to Uman, the scene of a recent pogrom, for he wished, he said, to accompany the souls of the martyred Jews with the tikkunim (corrections) made by his own death. Maintaining his active teaching schedule to the last, the thirty-eight-year-old Rebbe Nachmann died in Uman as he had wished . . . . A “wonder� rabbi (below umbrella) and his students

A Little Geographic Background: Podilia (Podolia), home to The Dybbuk From: Encyclopedia of Ukraine A historical-geographical upland region of southwestern Ukraine, consisting of the western part of the forest-steppe belt, Podilia is bounded in the southwest by the Dniester River, beyond which lie the Pokutian-Bessarabian upland and Subcarpathia. To the north it overlaps with the historical region of Volhynia, where the Podolian upland descends to Little Polisia and Polisia. In the west it is bounded by the Vereshytsia River, beyond which lies the Sian lowland. To the east Podilia passes imperceptibly into the Dnieper upland, with the Boh River serving as part of the demarcation line, and in the southeast it descends gradually toward the Black Sea lowland . . . . After the Mongol invasion in the 13th century brought death and destruction to Poland, Polish princes invited settlers from Germany in the hope of stimulating the economy. As the situation for Jews in Western Europe deteriorated during the 14th century, many moved eastward. Communities were founded rapidly. By the year 1600 between 20,000 and 30,000 Jews lived in 60 communities. . . . Podolia, 18th-19th centuries


The history of Podilia was strongly influenced by its proximity to the steppe, for centuries the source of nomadic raids. . . . Crimean Tatar raids, which began in the second half of the 15th century, crippled Podilia’s developing economy. The Crimean Horde regarded Podilia not only as an object of prey but also as a gateway . . . to the more populous lands of Volhynia, Galicia, Kholm, and Poland proper. . . . Khmelnitsky and the Cossacks overrun the Jews (From: Pteranodon’s View). The holy bride and groom whose combined grave is in the middle of Brinnitz were murdered between the twin blades of the advancing Cossacks led by Bohdan Khmelnitsky, and the retreating Poles who were fighting for control of present-day Ukraine, which was then a no-man’s land suitable only for outlaws (the Cossacks) and undesirables (Jews). At the beginning of the 16th century the illimitable steppe of southeastern Europe, from the Dnieper to the Urals, had no settled population. Hunters and fishermen frequented its innumerable rivers, returning home laden with rich stores of fish and pelts, while runaway serfs occasionally settled in small communities beneath the shelter of the fortresses built . . . to guard the southern frontiers of Poland and Muscovy [Russia]. Obliged, for fear of the Tatars, to go about with arms in their hands, these settlers gradually grew strong enough to raid their raiders, selling the booty thus acquired to the merchants of Muscovy and Poland. Moreover, the Turks and Tatars being the natural enemies of Christendom, a war of extermination against them was regarded by the so-called “Cossacks” as a sacred duty. Curiously enough, these champions of orthodoxy borrowed the name [Cossack] from their “dog-headed adversaries”: The rank and file of the Tatar soldiery were known as Kazaki, or Cossacks, a word meaning “freebooters,” and this term came to be applied indiscriminately to all the [non-Jewish] free dwellers in the Ukraine borderlands. As time went on the Cossacks multiplied exceedingly. Their daring grew with their numbers, and [they] frequently involved Poland in dangerous and unprofitable wars with the Ottoman Empire. [Understandably,] the pick of the [peasants who flooded the area became] six registered regiments of 1000 each for the defense of the border. . . . [As protectors of the lands to the west the “freebooters” were granted self-rule.] The Cossack kosh, or commonwealth, had the privilege of electing its hetman, or chief, and his chief officers. . . . The hetman, after election, . . . was responsible for his actions to the kosh alone . . . ; in time of warfare he was a dictator, and disobedience to his orders in the field was punishable by death. The Cossacks were supposed to be left alone as much as possible by the Polish government so long Native Podilian dress as they faithfully [guarded] the frontiers of the Republic from Tatar raids. But the relations between a community of freebooters, mostly composed of fugitive serfs and refugees, and a government of small squires who regarded the Cossacks as mere rabble, were bound to be difficult at the best of times, and political and religious 43

differences presently supervened. The Cossacks . . . belonged to the Greek Orthodox religion . . . and [Poland’s kings] had been very careful to safeguard their religious liberties. . . . But, at the beginning of the 17th century . . . Greek Orthodox congregations, if not generally persecuted, were at least depressed and straitened; and the Cossacks began to hate Polish lords, not merely as tyrants, but as heretics. Yet all these obstacles [might] have been surmounted if only the Polish diet [or parliament] had treated the Cossacks with common fairness and common sense. In 1619 the Polish government was obliged to prohibit absolutely the piratical raids of the Cossacks in [which] they habitually destroyed Turkish property to the value of millions. At the same time . . . the diet undertook to allow the Cossacks, . . . 40,000 gulden and 170 wagons of cloth per annum [but] these terms were never kept. . . . And when the Cossacks showed unmistakable signs of restiveness, the Poles irritated them still further by ordering the construction of a strong fortress . . . to overawe [an important Cossack] community. This . . . led to two terrible Cossack risings, in 1635 and 1636, put down only with the utmost difficulty, whereupon the diet of 1638 deprived the Cossacks of all their ancient privileges, abolished the elective hetmanship, and substituted for it a commission of Polish noblemen with absolute power. . . . [At this point Polish King] Wladislaus IV proposed to make the Cossacks the pivot of his [designs to wrest power from the national assembly and to more completely control the Ukraine]. . . . He proposed to provoke the Tatars . . . by repudiating the humiliating tribute with which the Republic had so long [given the Tatars. Then] he meant, at the head of 100,000 Cossacks, to fall upon . . . the seat of Tatar power, and exterminate the Khanate [which, he thought would prompt the Turks to invade Poland], . . . justifying his taking the field against them also. [Achieving victory,] he would be able to impose [his] will [on the] discredited diet, and reform the constitution. . . . [In fact] a civil war broke out in the Crimea and [King Wladislaus] bade the Cossacks prepare their boats for a raid upon the Turkish galleys. . . . Unfortunately the city-state of Venice, for her own safety’s sake, [revealed] Wladislaus’ anti-Turkish alliance [with them]; the [Tatars] remained strictly neutral . . . ; and Wladislaus, bound by his coronation oath not to undertake an offensive war, found himself at the mercy of the diet which [in May 1647, moved to make] the royal power still further reduced. A year later Wladislaus died . . . , at the very moment when the long-impending tempest which he himself had conjured up burst with overwhelming fury over the territories of the Republic. The prime mover of the great rebellion of 1648, which shook the Polish state to its very foundations, was the Cossack Bohdan Khmelnitsky, who had been initiated in all the plans of Wladislaus IV and, with good reason, feared to be the first victim of the Polish magnates when the king’s designs were unmasked. . . .


The Khmelnitsky era. (From: Encyclopedia of Ukraine). The great uprising of 1648 was one of the most cataclysmic events in Ukrainian history. . . . A crucial element in the revolt was the leadership of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnitsky (ruled 1648-57), whose exceptional organizational, military, and political talents to a large extent accounted for its success. The uprising engulfed all of Dnieper Ukraine. [In] April 1648, at the general assembly . . ., he openly expressed his intention of proceeding against the Poles and was elected hetman by acclamation; [a month later] he annihilated a small detached Polish corps . . . , and seven days later overwhelmed the army of the Polish grand-hetman, massacring 8500 of the 10,000 men and sending the grand-hetman himself and all his officers in chains to the Crimea [home of the Turks]. The immediate consequence of these victories was the outburst of [the] serfs’ fury [toward the Poles]. Throughout the Ukraine the gentry were hunted down, flayed, burnt, blinded and sawn asunder. Every manorhouse and castle was reduced to ashes. Every Uniate or Catholic priest who could be caught was hung up before his own high altar, along with a Jew and a hog [emphasis added]. . . . Soon the rebels were swarming over the palatinates of Volhynia and [Podilia]. . . . Khmelnitsky also attempted to rid the Portrait of Khmelnitsky from the Ukraine of all Jews who were identified with Polish Kievan cave monastery (destroyed) rule. In the course of the revolt, 300 Jewish communities were destroyed and tens of thousands killed: Jewish losses [were] estimated at over 50,000 during what became a decade-long Cossack-Polish War. . . .. The massacres, considered the first modern pogrom, left Polish Jews dazed for generations and contributed greatly to the enthusiastic welcome given to the false Messiah twenty years later. Ukrainian nationalists consider Khmelnitsky a national hero. . . .


Great massacres were also perpetrated against the Ukrainian populace by the retreating Poles. . . The Poles were crushed [in] May 1648 and again in September . . . in Volhynia, where the Cossacks were joined by the peasants en masse. Poland proper was now defenseless, but Khmelnitsky, after briefly occupying western Ukraine and besieging Lviv and Zamostia, decided, because of oncoming winter and doubts about the chances of success of a full-scale invasion of Poland, to return to Dnieper Ukraine. Upon his triumphant entry into Lviv, he declared that although he had begun the uprising for personal reasons he was now fighting for the sake of all Ukraine. . . . [Unfortunately] Khmelnitsky, by suddenly laying bare the nakedness of the Polish republic, had opened the eyes of Muscovy to the fact that her secular enemy was no longer formidable. [In 1657, after years of battle,] Khmelnitsky, finding himself unable to cope with the Poles single-handed, very reluctantly transferred his allegiance to the tsar, and the same year the tsar’s armies invaded Poland, still bleeding from the all but mortal wounds inflicted on her by the Cossacks. The war thus begun . . . far exceeded even the Thirty Years’ War in grossness and brutality. . . . In the first half of the 18th century Podilia was colonized intensively. Peasants, mostly from Rus voivodeship and Volhynia but also from Left-Bank Ukraine, Moldavia, and Poland proper, poured into the depopulated territory. By the mid-18th century Podilia voivodeship had the highest population density in the Polish Commonwealth. Although Tatar raids had ceased, there was no lasting peace in the region. National and religious oppression along with increasing corvee provoked the so-called haidamaka uprisings against the Polish nobility. Centered in the southern part of the Kiev region and the southeastern part of the Bratslav region, they encompassed all of eastern Podilia. With the First Partition of Poland (1772) western Podilia . . . was annexed by Austria, and with the Second Partition (1793) eastern Podilia was transferred to Russia. . . . After the division each part of Podilia developed differently. In eastern Podilia the intensification of serfdom gave rise to peasant discontent and . . . revolts. . . . Social and economic progress in the [region] was also slow. . . In western Podilia, as in all Galicia,


the Polish population continued to increase and to dominate the administration of the land. . . . [As the Ukraine came under Russian rule Jews had nearly 1200 laws imposed on them between 1640 and 1880, from travel and movement restrictions to the prohibition of public utterance of Hebrew and Yiddish to enforced conversions of Jews to Christianity— even the conscription of children. The ultimate movement restriction came during the 19th century, when Russia instituted the Pale of Settlement (left), which was by law inhabited by Jews only. By the end of that century more than 2 million of the 5.2 million Russian Jews lived there. Prohibited from owning property, most Jews were urbanites prior to Russian rule, and subsequent czars further restricted them to cities and towns: In small towns (shtetls) of the Right Bank [of the Dneiper], the percentage reached as Pale of Settlement, 18th-19th centuries high as 70-80%. Tight-knit, insular, traditionalist Jewish shtetl communities were a world unto themselves. There, Jewish Orthodox religion, culture, and language (Yiddish) dominated. Rabbis and communal selfgoverning bodies . . . were most influential, and contact with the “outside” world was restricted to economic transactions. The poverty and overcrowding of the shtetls was proverbial, for the Jewish communities simply had more people than their economies could support (Subtelny).] Jews in the Ukraine. In the area that is now known as the Ukraine Jews had some measure of self government from the 1450s until 1763, when . . . Great Poland, Little Poland (the Ukraine), Galicia and Volhynia rescinded this “privilege.” Jews had been granted these Shtetl life

powers soon after German Jews began arriving [in that area], driven south by increased oppression. Many of them settled around Kiev and in 47

Podilia. Kiev became a center of Jewish learning in 1569, when, as a result of Poland and Lithuania forming a governing union, control of the area was transferred to Lithuania. Lithuanian rule also encouraged more Jews to settle in the region, which was sufficiently peaceful [except for the occasional pogrom] to allow them to grow from 4,000 to more than 51,000 by the 18th century. Still, most Jews were economically restricted, often being prohibited from owning land in an almost entirely agrarian society. Unable to own farms themselves Jews became middlemen, managing peasant farm laborers for wealthy landowners who required greater and greater profits; they also collected taxes (a job nobody wanted), and sold finished goods. For example in Galicia, 35% of Jews were merchants, 30% were craftsmen, and 15% were leaseholders or tavern keepers. Unfortunately each of these occupations simply fostered an image of Jews as heartless money mongers. . . . In the 16th through 18th centuries the Jewish population increased steadily. In 1764, on the eve of the first Polish partition and the annexation of territories by Russia, there were 0.75 million Jews in Poland-Lithuania, forming 20 to 30% of the population in the larger cities and 70 to 90% in smaller towns. . . .

Parables from The Dybbuk From: The Dybbuk and the Yiddish Imagination: A Haunted Reader In Judaism, like other religions, some lessons are taught by parable: we are to glean a spiritual truth (or truths) from the resolution of a story (Aesop’s fables are a good example), or better understand customs or traditional practices by learning about their origins. Of course, human beings simply enjoy telling stories, too! but in The Dybbuk one party is usually telling another a story to illustrate a point or teach a moral. The most obvious example of this comes from the rabbi of Miropolye, who is fashioned after Rabbi Nachmann of Bratslav, great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, the first Hassidic Master and originator of Hassidism. Rabbit Nachmann taught in parables, like many religious leaders (Muhammad, Jesus) but his were unusual in that they included fantastic or supernatural elements and that they didn’t necessarily happen in a Jewish world. Director Barbara Damashek reminds us that parables both reveal and conceal meaning, and that while they don’t imitate reality, the meanings they reveal to us often make us more conscious of reality or bring us to a higher level of consciousness. Below are some parables from The Dybbuk for your consideration. Like good literature, more than one interpretation is possible; Ms. Damashek and I would love to read alternate interpretations from students, teachers and others. The Heart of the World At one end of the world, there is a high mountain, and on that mountain, there is a huge rock, and from that huge rock a pure spring comes gushing out. And at the other end of the world, there is the heart of the world, for everything in the world has a heart, and the world itself has a big heart. And the heart of the world gazes and gazes at the pure spring and it can never see enough of it, and it longs and yearns and thirsts for the pure spring, yet it cannot take even the smallest step toward it. For the moment the heart so much as stirs from its place, 48

it loses sight of the mountain peak and the pure spring, and if the heart of the world ever loses sight of the pure spring for even an instant, it loses its life. And at the very same time, the world starts dying. Now the pure spring has no time of its own and so it lives on the time it receives from the heart of the world. And the heart of the world gives it only one day at a time. . . . And when that day has faded, the pure spring begins to sing to the heart of the world. And the heart of the world sings to the pure spring. And their singing spreads all over the world, and radiant threads emerge from the singing and they reach the hearts of all things in the world and they reach from one heart to the next. . . . And there is a righteous and gracious man who wanders about the world and gathers the radiant threads of the hearts and weaves them into time. And as soon as he finishes weaving an entire day, he passes it on to the heart of the world, and the heart of the world passes it on to the pure spring. And so the pure spring lives for another day . . . One of the first parables we hear from members of the Brinnitz synagogue is about a rabbi adjudicating between a rich man and a poor man: Rabbi Shmelke and his whip Rabbi Shmelke once had to judge a dispute between a poor man and a rich man. The rich man had influence at the royal court, and everyone was terrified of him. Rabbi Shmelke listened to both sides and then he ruled in favor of the poor man. The rich man was very annoyed and he refused to abide by the rabbi’s judgment. So the rabbi quietly said: “You will go along with my decision. When a rabbi issues an order, you have to obey.” The rich man grew angry and began yelling: “The hell with you and your rabbinical judgments!” Now, Rabbi Shmelke stood up to his full stature and shouted: “You are to obey my order this very instant. Otherwise— th I’ll use my whip!” The rich man hit the Plowing in the Ukraine, 20 century, Vishniac ceiling! He started cursing and swearing at the rabbi! So Rabbi Shmelke opened the drawer in his desk—and out jumped the Original Serpent, the one from the Garden of Eden, and it coiled itself around the rich man’s neck. Well, you can imagine the commotion. The rich man screamed and wept: “Help me, Rebbe, for give me! I’ll do anything you say, but please take away the Serpent!” Rabbi Shmelke replied: “You will tell your children and your children’s children to obey the rabbi and to fear his whip!” And he removed the Serpent from the rich man’s neck.


The Rich Man and the Mirror The rebbe had a visitor, a Hasid. A very rich but very stingy man. The rebbe took him by the hand and led him to the window, saying, “Have a look!” The rich man then peered out into the street. The rebbe asked him: “Well, what do you see?” And the rich Hasid answered: “I see people.” And then the rebbe took him by the hand again and led him over to the mirror, and said: “Now have a look. What do you see?” The wealthy man replied: “I see myself.” The rebbe went on: “Do you understand? The window is made of glass and the mirror is made of glass. But the glass in the mirror has a thin silver coat. And because of that silver, you can’t see other people, you see only yourself.”

Notes from Director Barbara Damashek Following are ideas and perspectives Ms. Damashek would like to share with our academic audiences. They do not form an essay or concise statement but may provide you with points of discussion or insights into what you will see. Barbara Damashek sees this play as a theatrical ritual commemorating the nowlost real world of the play, and for Jews, a commemoration of the Yiddish actors who originally performed it, whose world is also gone. The Jewish theatre troupe Habimah (meaning: the stage), who premiered the play, was originally founded in Moscow in 1917. The company performed their plays in Hebrew, the first professional group ever to do so. Led by Nahum Zemach, the company aspired to portray the problems of the Jewish people. Habimah had a few problems of its own: many members of the Communist Party opposed the existence of Habimah; Stalin, however, allowed the group to continue to operate. The company began a lengthy tour abroad in 1926, performing plays from their repertory, so the Habimah presented The Dybbuk to Jewish audiences everywhere. In 1927, in the United States, Habimah split: Zemach and several other actors remained in the U.S., while others decided to settle in Palestine, in Tel Aviv. In 1945, Habimah moved into the building in which it now resides, in the heart of Tel Aviv. Thirteen years later, it became the National Theatre of Israel. A good deal of the action in our Dybbuk takes place either in a synagogue (“where the dead come to pray at night and leave their sorrows,” Leah’s protector Fradde tells her) or another sanctified area: near the holy grave of the slain couple in the center of town; in Rabbi Azriel’s chambers, where Sender and Khonen are tried in spiritual court. Each of these places require special, formalized actions and behaviors and include sacred areas that observers must pay strict attention to, which they must focus on; a sort of stage within our stage, which distances audiences from the action, like literature’s omniscient voice and the self-conscious presentational style of acting of Brecht’s theatre. In this sense The Dybbuk may be seen as a religious mystery play or a passion play, like Judaism’s Purim plays or Christian re-enactments of Jesus’ last days on earth. These religious plays look back to earlier Egyptian and Greek traditions, from which many 50

Western theatrical traditions and forms spring. Greek theatre, the earliest Western tradition, came about as part of Athens’ spring Dionysian (religious) festivals; interestingly, Purim and Easter are major spring festivals in their respective religions. A touchstone for this concept, that of, let us say, “conjuring” these people, is author Isaac Bashevis Singer’s admission that he wrote about “a dead culture for a dead people in a dead language.” However, since his work was appreciated by a worldwide audience of Jews and non-Jews, it is obvious that his ultimate message is relevant beyond that community. Following is Mr. Singer’s acceptance address for the 1978 Nobel Prize in Literature. As the son of a people who received the worst blows that human madness can inflict, I must brood about the forthcoming dangers. I have many times resigned myself to never finding a true way out. But a new hope always emerges telling me that it is not yet too late for all of us to take stock and make a decision. I was brought up to believe in free will. Although I came to doubt all [divine] revelation, I can never accept the idea that the Universe is a physical or chemical accident, a result of blind evolution. Even though I learned to recognize the lies, the clichés and the idolatries of the human mind, I still cling to some truths which I think all of us might accept some day. There must be a way for man to attain all possible pleasures, all the powers and knowledge that nature can grant him, and still serve God—a God who speaks in deeds, not in words, and whose vocabulary is the Cosmos. . . . I am not ashamed to admit that I belong to those who fantasize that literature is capable of bringing new horizons and new perspectives— philosophical, religious, aesthetical and even social. In the history of old Jewish literature there was never any basic difference between the poet and the prophet. Our ancient poetry often became law and a way of life. . . . The pessimism of the creative person is not decadence but a mighty passion for the redemption of man. While poets entertain they continue to search for eternal truths, for the essence of being. In their own fashion they try to solve the riddle of time and change, to find an answer to suffering, to reveal Shtetl library, Vishniac love in the very abyss of cruelty and injustice. Strange as these words may sound I often play with the idea that when all the social theories collapse and wars and revolutions leave humanity in utter gloom,


the poet—whom Plato banned from his Republic—may rise up to save us all. The high honor bestowed upon me by the Academy [by granting me this Nobel Prize] is also a recognition of the Yiddish language—a language of exile, without a land, without frontiers, not supported by any government, a language which possesses no words for weapons, ammunition, military exercises, war tactics; a language that was despised by both gentiles and emancipated Jews. The truth is that what the great religions preached, the Yiddish-speaking people of the ghettos practiced day in and day out. They were the people of The Book in the truest sense of the word. They knew of no greater joy than the study of man and human relations, which they called Torah, Talmud, Mussar, Kabbalah. [{According to Abraham Twerski the}Mussar . . . starts with the premise that “human beings are created with a yetzer tov (good inclination) and a yetzer hara (evil inclination) {which} are constantly at odds,” locked in “an ongoing struggle throughout a person’s lifetime.” . . . In its development as a distinct genre of Jewish writing and thought, Mussar tended toward a dim view of human nature, emphasizing the potency of the yetzer hara, the mighty efforts required to defeat it, and, in some of the darker works, the hellish punishments that would meet the morally lazy soul.] The ghetto was not only a place of refuge for a persecuted minority but a great experiment in peace, in self-discipline and in humanism. As such it still exists and refuses to give up in spite of all the brutality that surrounds it. I was brought up among those people. My father’s home . . . in Warsaw was a study house, a court of justice, a house of prayer, of storytelling, as well as a place for weddings and Hasidic banquets. As a child I had heard from my older brother and master, I. J. Singer, who later wrote The Brothers Ashkenazi, all the arguments that the rationalists from Spinoza to Max Nordau brought out against religion. I have heard from my father and mother all the answers that faith in God could offer to those who doubt and search for the truth. In our home and in many other homes the eternal questions were more actual than the latest news in the Yiddish newspaper. In spite of all the disenchantments and all my skepticism I believe that the nations can learn much from those Jews, their way of thinking, their way of bringing up children, their finding happiness where others see nothing but misery and humiliation. To me the Yiddish language and the conduct of those who spoke it are identical. One can find in the Yiddish tongue and in the Yiddish spirit expressions of pious joy, lust for life, longing for the Messiah, patience and deep appreciation of human individuality. There is a quiet humor in Yiddish and a gratitude for every day of life, every crumb of success, each encounter of love. The Yiddish mentality is not haughty. It does not take victory for granted. It does not demand and command but it muddles through, sneaks by, smuggles itself amidst the powers of destruction, knowing somewhere that God’s plan for Creation is still at the very beginning.


There are some who call Yiddish a dead language, but so was Hebrew called for two thousand years. It has been revived in our time in a most remarkable, almost miraculous way. . . . It is a fact that the classics of Yiddish literature are also the classics of the modern Hebrew literature. Yiddish has not yet said its last word. It contains treasures that have not been revealed to the eyes of the world. It was the tongue of martyrs and saints, of dreamers and Kabbalists—rich in humor and in memories that mankind may never forget. In a figurative way, Yiddish is the wise and humble language of us all, the idiom of frightened and hopeful Humanity. Mr. Singer also believed: It seems that the analysis of character is the highest human entertainment. And literature does it, unlike gossip, without mentioning real names. Director Damashek points out that one Kabbalistic view of creation holds that, because God was all space, the whole universe, he had to condense himself and create the void to make room for the world. Therefore, as far as the origins of good and evil, some believe that evil existed only in the void and was not part of God, while others, like Khonen, believe that evil was somehow included in God’s creation (nothing exists that does not have its origin in God), and so must have some element of good in it: Khonen tells his fellow student that even lust, the worst sin, must have its holy element, and he quotes King Solomon’s Song of Songs by way of illustration: Song of Solomon 4 From: the Jewish Virtual Library’s Bible 1

Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thine eyes are as doves behind thy veil; thy hair is as a flock of goats, that trail down from Mount Gilead.


Thy teeth are like a flock of ewes all shaped alike, which are come up from the washing; whereof all are paired, and none faileth among them.


Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy mouth is comely; thy temples are like a pomegranate split open behind thy veil.


Thy neck is like the tower of David builded with turrets, whereon there hang a thousand shields, all the armor of the mighty men.


Thy two breasts are like two fawns that are twins of a gazelle, which feed among the lilies.


Until the day breathe, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.


Thou art all fair, my love; and there is no spot in thee.



Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, with me from Lebanon; look from the top of Amana, from the top of Senir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards.


Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my bride; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one bead of thy necklace.

10 How fair is thy love, my sister, my bride! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all manner of spices! 11 Thy lips, O my bride, drop honey—honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon. 12 A garden shut up is my sister, my bride; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. 13 Thy shoots are a park of pomegranates, with precious fruits; henna with spikenard plants, 14 Spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices. 15 Thou art a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and flowing streams from Lebanon. 16 Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his precious fruits.

Questions for After Reading the Play 1. The Dybbuk was originally written in Yiddish. More so than other languages, Yiddish is a culture-based language as opposed to a country-based language: Jewish people spoke it in several countries, but it was never the official language of any one country. In fact, with the onslaught of the pogroms, the language was often repressed. Consider the many cultures that make up the United States. How important are their native tongues to each group’s identity? Yiddish is nearly a “dead language”; that is, relatively few people speak it any more. Do you think this has affected Jewish culture? A number of Native American languages are nearly “dead,” also. What effect has that had on that culture? Some words from the Yiddish language are in use by the general population, (for example, “Oy vey,” “schmaltz”) especially in urban areas like New York, where there is a sizable Jewish population. What other words are commonly used in your community that can be traced back to an ethnic group that immigrated to the United States? 2. Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein is loosely based on The Dybbuk. What other stories are similar to The Dybbuk? Are there religious overtones in them? What are some of the


lesser-known beliefs in your own religion or spiritual beliefs that pertain to the afterlife, ghosts, exorcism, etc.? Do you yourself have beliefs that run counter to your religion on these matters? 3. Staging The Dybbuk presents some difficult challenges for the director and the designers. How would you stage the merging of Khonen and Leah at the end of the play? Or Khonen’s voice coming from Leah? How would you stage the return of Khonen’s father from the afterlife? 4. Joachim Neugroschel translated and adapted The Dybbuk from Yiddish to English. Many plays produced in the United States have been translated from other languages: The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekov; A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen; and, more recently, Art by Yazmina Reza (which was produced at Syracuse Stage) to name a few. What plays or works of fiction written by American authors do you think merit being translated into other languages? Explain your reasons why. 5. Numerical values of Hebrew letters – “Each letter in the alefbet [aka, the alphabet] has a numerical value. These values can be used to write numbers, as the Romans used some of their letters (I, V, X, L, C, M) to represent numbers,” says Tracey Rich of Judaism 101. “The number 11 would be rendered Yod-Alef, the number 12 would be Yod-Bet, the number 21 would be Kaf-Alef, the word Torah (Tav-Vav-Resh-He) has the numerical value 611, etc. The order of the letters is irrelevant to their value; letters are simply added to determine the total numerical value. . . . “Because of this system of assigning numerical values to letters, every word has a numerical value. There is an entire discipline of mysticism known as Gematria that is devoted to finding hidden meanings in the numerical values of words. For example, the number 18 is very significant, because it is the numerical value of the word Chai, meaning life. Donations to Jewish charities are routinely made in denominations of 18 for that reason.” Khonen tells us that his name = 108: 8+50+50, and Leah = 36: 30+1+5 (which is ⅓ of 108). We also learn that truth = 9 and, if you are good at this sort of thing, you will realize that the 36 lamed-vavnik are exactly that: lamed = 30 + vav = 6 = 36. Judaism is not alone in using numerology to understand or reveal meanings “hidden” in words; medieval and some Renaissance literature tap into a different but useful system: 1=God, 2=mankind, so 3, as in Christianity’s Holy Trinity, is a very special number. Those who hold New Age beliefs also use a numerology system. Below are the numerical values and English letter equivalents of the Hebrew alefbet (which = 3: alef = 1 + bet = 2). See what you can discover, using any of these systems, from your name, your friends’ names, your pet—any name or word that you suspect is harboring a secret. ‫ = א‬1 = alef = silent ‫ = ב‬2 = bet = b/v ‫ = ג‬3 = gimel = g ‫ = ד‬4 = dalet = d ‫ = ה‬5 = he =h ‫ = ו‬6 = vav = v/o/u

‫ = כ‬20 = kaf = k/kh ‫ = ך‬20 = khaf = kh ‫ = ל‬30 = lamed = l ‫ = מ‬40 = mem = m ‫ = ם‬40 = mem = m ‫ = ן‬50 = nun = n


‫ = ק‬100 = qof = q ‫ = ר‬200 = resh = r ‫ = ש‬300 = shin = s/sh ‫ = ת‬400 = tav = t/s

‫ = ז‬7 = zayin = z ‫ = ח‬8 = chet = ch ‫ = ט‬9 = tet = t ‫ = י‬10 = yod = y

‫ = נ‬50 = nun = n ‫ = ס‬60 = samech = s ‫ =ע‬70 = ayin = silent ‫ = פ‬80 = pe = p/f

‫ = ף‬80 = fe = f ‫ = צ‬90 = tzade = tz ‫ = ץ‬90 = tzade = tz

Post-Performance Questions 1. Although the playwright has set the scenes in different, real locations like Brinnitz and Miropolye, the director and designers have chosen to emphasize the common Jewish community (in the sense of social constructs and practices) that is present in each of the play’s locations through the use of a general setting made specific by simply changing elements of it: indicating the interior of a synagogue by placing an ark in the playing space; moving Sender’s “front porch,” as it were, onstage as Leah prepares for her wedding, and so on. Did the scenes flow from one to another, or were the changes jarring? Would you have chosen different elements to set the scene? 2. Part of the permanent setting, onstage throughout the play (though occasionally screened from view), is a small cemetery. In real life, the cemetery’s proximity to the villages’ centers would have “completed” these particular communities, rather like the cemeteries that surround older churches, either Protestant or Catholic, in this country; in a sense, the dead are alive for their families and descendants. Did its presence “haunt” your moment-to-moment impressions of the action, serving as the nexus for this world and the next, or was it just another part of town? 3. Khonen’s actions and movements even before his death are out of the norm: he visits the ritual bath frequently; he “appears” and “disappears” suddenly. Some of this is due to theatre magic involving reflectors and careful “masking” (the theatrical use of partial curtains, often black) and some due to the actor’s own physical “magic.” Did it seem very strange to you, or was it simply fitting in this society? Did anyone else’s actions echo Khonen’s? Did everyone else’s? 4. The reflectors were also used to reveal more of the gestures and actions by other characters. Did that clarify things for you or were the reflected images themselves mysterious? Can you imagine a different way to achieve a similar effect? 5. Puppets appeared in “crowd scenes” both to augment the number of actors in the company as well as to add another unusual element to the performance. There is also a Jewish tradition of presenting puppet plays during the spring festival of Purim. Did our puppets take on lives of their own? Did their handlers seem to “disappear” to you? 6. Some of the music, the klezmer music, was performed live as it would have been in these Hasidic communities, an expression of the importance of Hasidic “enthusiasm” or joy in their lives. Not all klezmer music is upbeat, of course. Was the music suited to the mood of the scene it accompanied, or was it an ironic comment? Did you hear any rhythmic or tonal similarities between the live music and any of the chanting or formal spoken praying?


7. Khonen and Leah’s final exit at the end of the play is final in many respects. Were they triumphant, overcoming all barriers? Was it fitting? Or did it seem tragic? The rabbis’ strong desire to preserve the community and Sender’s wish to see his daughter happily married were thwarted, in their minds. Did you agree? If you could understand their point of view or agreed with them, did the young lovers’ ascent influence your opinion in any way? Do you think it influenced the elders? For Further Discussion 1. The Jewish people have only been able to live in Israel for fewer than 100 years. For thousands of years before then they were often told where to live, for example, in Russia’s Pale of Settlement or in specific sections of major cities called ghettos. Most Americans would be offended by such restrictions; some Jews, wanting to avoid assimilation, felt some comfort in dwelling in an entirely Jewish community. Look for firsthand accounts from Jews living in such circumstances and the official statutes put forth by Russia, Poland and other countries. Based on this information, can you support either (or, for the ambitious, both) point of view? Debate these points with your classmates. 2. Research some of the pogroms of the Jewish people. Create a timeline of the Jewish Diaspora and the events leading up to it. What countries did the Jews flee to when they left their homelands? Are they still in those countries, or have they moved again? 3. In The Dybbuk, arranged marriages are a normal occurrence. This is still true for several cultures. Research some of these cultures’ marriage practices. What are the pros and cons of each? 4. The communities we see in The Dybbuk derive their rules for living entirely from their religion, down to such things as what they may and may not eat, and how meals are to be prepared. The prohibition against unmarried men and women speaking to each other in public, which Leah observes, mirrors the separation of men and women in the synagogue which is still observed by some Jewish sects today: Hasidic women may have little or no interaction with the non-Hasidic world, for example, to avoid their accidentally transgressing. Moslem groups and some Christian sects also live in societies whose strictures come from their respective religious teachings. Do you live under rules like these? How do they affect your choices and actions? Or your relationship with your parents and other authority figures? Explore what life is like for other young people who follow different religious and cultural traditions. How do you think they deal with the world around them? 5. Khonen, Leah and their friends are at a threshold in their lives, between living as students and dependents and beginning their own families. Even in a society as orderly and even ritualistic as theirs, they are questioning how to proceed and what is proper, for them and for their families and community. Young people still face questions and choices for which they feel unprepared, regardless of their lives till now. Some turn to


parents, other relatives, religious leaders, teachers; some turn to their peers; some simply rely on themselves. What would you do in Leah and Khonen’s place? Have you ever been in a relationship that you know does not meet your parent or guardian’s approval? Did you continue the relationship secretly, or give it up? Did you try to discuss it with your parent or guardian? Has a friend or acquaintance come to you for support or help with a relationship or life choice? What did you do? Writing Assignments 1. We are told about the agreement Sender, Leah’s father, made with Nissin, Khonen’s father, when they were at school together. How do you think it happened? Write a scene in which Sender and Nissin pledge their future children to one another, remembering that dramatic writing “shows” a story rather than “tells” it. Or write a short story, remembering to describe the place or places where this happens. Would their wives have been involved, or not? Were they celebrating, or seriously considering the future? 2. Write a parable about two people who are attracted to one another but cannot act on that attraction. It could be a “cautionary tale” to lovers, parents or friends, or a lesson in the power of love. What is the barrier between your two people? Is it social convention, cultural differences, distance? Do they resolve it or resign themselves to it? Do they ask for help or become secretive? Do their friends or relations encourage the couple or discourage them? Why and how? There are many stories about people who are prevented from being together, not just love stories but stories of friendship also. Do you know of any other similar stories? 3. Only the judges involved in the rabbinical court can “hear” Nissin’s testimony. Try writing what you think he may have “said” to them. Do you think he would have taken on the formal tone of the rabbis or spoken more causally, like Sender? What might the scene been like if Nissin had been alive and taken Sender into a civil court? Enact your version of the rabbinical trial, including your script for Nissin, or your version of a civil trial between Nissin and Sender (the issue between them could be breach of promise, for example). Or debate the issues between the two fathers, following formal debate rules. 4. All you budding poets out there, how about trying your hand at blank verse? Playwrights occasionally use poetry to express the highly emotional content of a scene or moment, as Shakespeare did in his romantic comedies. Khonen and Leah only have one real scene in the play, when they “merge” at the end, but suppose they had found themselves alone one evening when Khonen had joined Leah and Sender for dinner. How might they first react to being alone? Would they discuss “safe” topics and gradually reveal their interest in one another, or would they immediately declare their feelings? Would all of that have been in blank verse, or would some of the scene be in prose? 5. Okay, so maybe that’s too challenging. Perhaps Khonen would secretly send a letter or note to Leah . . . and maybe she would write back.


Arts Activities 1. Many different professions and trades play an integral part in theatre. Early on in the design process, set and costume designers will sketch ideas about scenery, props and clothes, exploring shapes, texture and colors that might be appropriate. From these the scenic designer will prepare blueprints for the construction of the set like those used to build your house; both the scenic and costume designers will create color renderings of the entire setting and each character respectively. This design is the culmination of discussions with the director, the designers and others who are involved in the production. Choose a scene or two from The Dybbuk that interest you and sketch the significant elements (scenery or costumes, or both) from them. If you choose scenes that follow in succession consider how any changes might be made. 2. In the course of telling the story of The Dybbuk we visit several different locations. Design a single set to be used for all the scenes. Is there one important feature, realistic or symbolic, that could serve as a constant element? Is it similar to Syracuse Stage’s setting or different? With that in mind, how would you suggest the courtyard in front of Leah’s house or Rabbi Azriel’s room? 3. Many of the actors playing secondary characters will play more than role in the course of a performance. As the costumer, how would you differentiate their roles simply and effectively, keeping in mind that some changes will have to happen quickly? Some of the puppets in our production will also change costumes. Would that affect the puppets’ design? 4. Music plays an important role in the telling of this story, especially klezmer music. Had you ever heard klezmer music before this play? How would you describe it? (I have been known to call it Jewish soul music.) What specific types of music do you associate with ethnic groups in your area? Do you know any songs that are part of your ethnic background? Play some for your class, either live or recorded. Are there any traditional dances associated with those tunes? 5. For The Dybbuk our sound designer will probably turn to traditional recorded klezmer music for any songs not performed live onstage, though generally he selects music from “ancient” to modern to include in his design. Are there any songs popular today that would express the moods or underscore any of the action in the performance you saw? How, why and which ones? 6. Leah and her Aunt Fradde visit the synagogue so Leah can see some of the embroidered objects women have made in celebration of their religion. Usually such pieces include colors and symbols that imply meanings to anyone familiar with the religion: for Catholics, purple implies both nobility and passionate suffering; the symbol of the thunderbird reminds some Native Americans of the Great Spirit. Fashion a symbolic article relating to your religion or other interest, in cloth, paint, ink or any other two-dimensional medium.


7. Young actors and directors might try improvising some of the following scenarios: Khonen and his friend Henekh planning their futures; Leah and her girlfriend discussing young men they know; Sender and the other Hasids leaving the synagogue to celebrate Leah’s engagement; Sender and Fradde planning Leah’s wedding; Fradde and Leah preparing Leah for the groom her father found for her. Feel free to explore your own ideas. Why do you think these scenes were not included in the play? Quotations from the Play Use the following quotations to discuss specific events from The Dybbuk in context, or to discuss the universal ideas expressed by the quotations. You might use the quotations as a springboard to role-playing, or as the first line of letters, poems, and short stories; or as titles for photos, paintings, other visual images or music. The Messenger:

Why, oh why Did the soul descend From the highest height To the deepest end? The greatest fall Contains the upward flight.

Messenger: True greatness doesn’t need a lovely wardrobe./First Idler: You’re wrong! True grandeur should wear the finest garments! Henekh: Soaring in ecstasy is the greatest danger. You can easily drop and fall into the abyss. Khonen: Sin lurks by the door. Khonen: We must never wage war against sin,/we should simply ameliorate it. Fradde: A synagogue has to be sad. At midnight, the dead come to pray and they leave their sorrows here. Sender: I see you’re about to have a drink! Ha ha! True Hasids! Messenger: The candle has burned down. I have to light a new one. Guest: You can never tell who a person is, or who he was in an earlier life, or why he was reborn. Khonen: Leah also breaks down into “lo” (not) and the letter “hey” —the symbol of God. No God! . . . Not through God . . . What a horrible thought . . . and how tempting . . .


Leah: The spirits that surround us aren’t evil./These are the people who died before their time. . . ./But if [one] passes on before his time,/what happens to the life he hasn’t lived? Third Idler: A marriage comes about if the bride and groom are meant for each other. Leah: Holy bride and groom! I invite you to my wedding!/Please come and stand at my side under the canopy. Sources Consulted Archangel Raziel. Sarah, ed. No date. Sarah’s Archangels.com. 17 January 2002. http://www.sarahsarchangels.com/archangels/raziel.html The Americanization of Mussar: Abraham Twerski’s Twelve Steps. No editor. 2001. Gale Group. 11/5/01. http://www.findarticles.com/cf_0/m0411/4_48/59120281/p1/article.jhtm S. Ansky. No editor. September 2001. Jewish Heritage Online Magazine. 9 September 2001. “http://www.jhom.com/personalities/ansky/index.htm” The Ariga Glossary of Yiddish Expressions. Robert Rosenberg. © 2001. Ariga. 19 October 2001. “http://www.ariga.com/yiddish.htm” Beyond the Pale: The History of Jews in Russia. J. Kniesmeyer and D. Brecher. 1995. Friends-Partners.org. 10 September 2001. “http://www.friendspartners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/index.org” Book of Raziel. No editor. © 2001. About.com, Inc. 17 January 2002. http://www.altreligion.about.com/library/etext/lotj1/bletext_lotj1_23.htm Pale of Settlement. Gregory Cherlin, ed. January 2000. Cherlin Family Home Page/Amazon.com. 11 Jan. 2002. http://www.users.voicenet.come/~cherlin/Cherlin/Maps/pale.html Cossack’s origin. Donald H. Tucker. December 1999. Pteranodon’s View. 30 November 2001. “http://www.geocities.com/Athens/forum/4123/eb11coss.htm” Cossacks. No editor. 2001. The Learning Network Inc. 30 November 2001. “http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/history/A0813711.html” Dybbuk. Gershon Winkler. New York: The Judaica Press, 1982. The Dybbuk and the Yiddish Imagination: A Haunted Reader. Joachim Neugroschel, ed., trans. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2000.


Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Volodymyr Kubijovye, ed. Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1988. Foreign currency exchange rates. The Travel eShop. ©1995-2000. 26 October 2001. “http://www.travelshop.com/menus/forexuntedstatesdollars.shtml” Gates to Jewish Heritage. Rabbi David E. Lipman. 1998-2000. 10 September 2001. “http://www.jewishgates.org” The Habimah (Theatre). No editor. 2001. Keren Kayemeth Leisrael. 5 Nov. 2001. http://www.wzo.org.il/home/dev/habima.htm Hasidism: The Movement and its Masters. Harry M. (Tzvi) Rabinowicz. Rev. ed. of World of Hasidism. Northvale, NJ: J. Aronson, 1988. Isaac Bashevis Singer Nobel Prize lecture. No editor. 17 Oct. 2001. The Nobel Foundation. 5 Nov. 2001. “http://www.nobel.se/literature/laureates/1978/singerlecture.html” Jewish Heritage Online Magazine. Simcha Shtull, ed. Oct. 2001. Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. 26 October 2001. “http://www.jhom.com/index.htm” Jewish Virtual Library: Song of Songs. No editor. © 2001. United Jewish Endowment Fund and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington (D.C.). 16 January 2002. www.us-israel.org/jsource/Bible/Songs4.html Judaism 101. Tracey Rich, ed. 7 July 2001. Davka.com. 6-7 September 2001. “http://www.jewfaq.org” Kabbala 101. No editor. 2001. Aish HaTorah. 16 October 2001. “http://www.aish.com/spirituality/kabbala101” Kabbalah: The Way of the Jewish Mystic. Perle Epstein. New York: Barnes and Noble, Inc., 1978. Kabbalah: Tradition of Hidden Knowledge. Kenton Warren (aka Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi). New York: Thames and Hudson, 1979. Polish Jews: A Pictorial Record. Roman Vishniac. New York: Schocken Books, 1976. Poyln: Jewish Life in the Old Country. Alter Kacyzne. New York: Metropolitan Books, 1999. Practical Kabbalah. Faye Levine, ed. Nov. 2001. No sponsoring institution. 4 February 2002. www.atomick.net/faylevine/pk/gloss.shtml


Rabbi Azriel. M. Alan Kazlev, ed. 20 Sept. 2001. No sponsoring org. 6 Nov. 2001. “http://www.kheper.auz.com/topics/Kabbalah/Gerona.htm” Rabbi Nachmann’s Stories. Aryeh Kaplan, trans., ed. Brooklyn, NY: Breslov Research Institute, 1983. Raziel. Sarah, ed. No date. Prentice Internet. 30 January 2002. www.sarahsarchangels.com/archangels/Raziel.html Roman Vishniac. Roman Vishniac New York: Grossman Publishers, 1974. The Sefirot: Kabbalistic Archetypes of Mind and Creation. Kenneth Arnold, ed. 2001. CrossCurrents. 6 Nov. 2001. “http://www.aril.org/Drob.htm” Song of Songs. No editor. © 2001. United Jewish Endowment Fund and Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. 16 January 2002. www.us-israel.org/jsource/Bible/Songs4.html Timeless Documents of the Soul. Siegmund Hurwitz. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1968. Tracing An-Sky: Jewish Collections from the State Ethnographic Museum in St. Petersburg. Belinfante, Judith C.E. and Dubov, Igor, eds. Haifa, Israel: Schussheim Foundation, 1994. Ukraine, A History. Orest Subtelny. 3rd ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000.

19th century cheder (school), Podilia


Profile for Syracuse Stage

S. Ansky's The Dybbuk  

S. Ansky's The Dybbuk- Study Guide

S. Ansky's The Dybbuk  

S. Ansky's The Dybbuk- Study Guide

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