Mordecai was called ’The Jew’. He lived in the big city. Mordecai was pious and conscientious but had few friends because he was often sunken in grief. He had been sorrowing since he was young and no one could talk him out of it, no one could bring him to smile.

     Every day after waking, he went to the window overlooking the wide busy street and prepared for morning prayers. From there he watched the world. And begin grieving again.

      He grieved for the poor who suffered from lack of the most necessary things in life- self-worth, food, clothing, a home. He grieved for the rich who suffered from the lack of the most necessary things in life- compassion, mercy, humility, and peace.

     He grieved for the few birds that hid in the eves, the bits of grass that still grew in little patches, and the air that was pale yellow from the city’s dust and smoke.

     He sorrowed for the sad because there was no end to their sorrow, and he grieved for the happy because their happiness was stolen from sorrow and would soon have to be returned.

     Was there not a sadness in the longings and dreams of all things- a longing of the moon to be the sun, the woman to be man, and the son to be the father?   Mordecai thought so.

      In heavy spirits, he wound the leather straps of the phylacteries around his arm as he called upon The Name, the Holy Mighty One, The Holy Immortal One, as he gazed out the window.

      Suddenly, a Great Light, brighter than the sun, burst forth around him and everything disappeared in a brilliant white that seemed to come singing from a distance unseen. An Angel appeared from within the light, his mighty wings filling the whole room, his gown radiant with every rainbow’s color, flowing and shifting, appearing and disappearing into the deepest heavens. Mordecai trembled and hid his face.

     The Angel called to him. Mordecai- you who are calling upon the Lord, the Holy Immortal One, and are binding yourself to Him, why do you grieve?

      Mordecai hardly daring to look up said, ‘my heart is heavy for the sins of the world- we are profaning the gift of Life, we are profaning The Name. We no longer live under The Holy One’s wings, abide in His tent, or praise His Name. Our hearts are turned from the Lord’.

     The Angel said, ‘Mordecai Look!’   The Angel was holding a gilded mirror in his hands.   ‘Tell me what you see Mordecai’.

‘I see myself,’ said Mordecai. ‘Yes,’ said the Angel,’ but around which arm are the phylacteries wound on the man in the mirror?’ ‘On the right arm’ said Mordecai.  ‘And on your arm Mordecai, around which arm are they wound?’ ‘Around the left’ replied Mordecai.

     ‘See and Understand Mordecai!’ said the Angel. ‘In the mirror everything is, but is opposite. Though you can touch, hand to hand through the mirror, your hands are still opposites’.

     ‘Hear Mordecai!  When the Holy Mighty One, the Holy Immortal One, created heaven and earth, and all that lived and crawled, he pronounced it Good! And Good it was, and Good it is, Good it will always be, for there is nothing that exists that does not exist through the Holy One’s Will, and in the Holy One there is only Good. And all that has life lives in the Goodness of the Holy One.

      The mirror is the mirror of the world, it is from the Deceiver, the Accuser. And when Man looks in this mirror, all his goals become turned. Man is deceived by his own goals because to him they appear good but are the opposite. This Mordecai, is sin. Sin is a wrong turning of the Good in the reflection of the world’s mirror. Pray to the Holy Immortal One Mordecai, that you might see with the Goodness of the eyes the Holy One gave you, and hear with the Goodness of the ears He gave you, and not with the eyes and ears of the man in the mirror’.

     ‘But Great Angel of the Lord, what will become of us? The mirror is always before us and we are too weak not to be deceived’.

      Then the Angel’s great wings, folded wider and covered Mordecai in their glimmering, shimmering power. Mordecai saw a graveyard, its dusty weeds and leaning stones. He was drawn to one grave, and on the headstone, he read his name. Mordecai shuddered, covered his face in fear and grief, and opened his lips to pronounce the Name of the Holy One, but had not the strength to speak. Then the Angel lifted his hand and the grave opened- ‘Mordecai Look! What do you see?’

      ‘The grave is empty’ said Mordecai.

      ‘Blessed be His Most Holy Name For Ever and Ever!’ sang the Angel- and He grew to a great height, his wings unfolding over the trees, growing and growing, over the whole heaven, and the brightness was greater than the sun while he slowly disappeared in a song that was the sound of all life living, a song, more beautiful than the heart could bear.   

 

      Mordecai no longer grieved. He stood every morning before the window as he prepared for morning prayers and smiled with those who smiled and lamented with those in sorrow. Then he would Bless the Holy Immortal One, and all His Angelic Hosts, and pray that all, that day, would see with the Goodness of their eyes, and hear with the Goodness of their ears.

 

 

David Russell OFS