Sunday, December 19, 2010

Winter solstice: The end of exile

by Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 12/20/10

Over the weekend, winter solstice made the big headline on Drudge, with a picture of the moon, because for the first time in 456 years, more of less since the beginning of Protestantism, a lunar eclipse falls on winter solstice. It would be pointless to speculate on the meaning of this or it if has any meaning at all, except that I was struck a few years ago when we here in New England who had been complaining about The Curse for about 80 years, had The Curse lifted when the Red Sox beat the Yankees for the pennant during a lunar eclipse. At the end of the game I went outside and sure enough, the shadow was passing across the moon. Eclipse at solstice, the darkest night of the year, may likewise have particular, essential meaning.

We in the scientific world and its secular manifestation deny meaning as part of the conventional orthodoxy. Science is our religion said The Cigarette-Smoking Man, not oracles. But Arthur Koestler, an early Zionist who turned back to Europe and communism but later repudiated it, would insist later in life there must be meaning in omens. They were like “an arrow in the blue” intuited only once or a few times in a lifetime. Maybe this is one of those times. This belief lived in the one corner of his brain, he said, while Trotsky lived in another, and the one remained in full denial of the other.

Something this year at solstice we might consider. Something cosmic. A rite of entry then, now a rite of exit, crystallized by action in the stars and heavens. What happened not long after the beginning of the aeon was that the Jews left Israel and came north to us. Then just a few hundred years ago – actually something like 456 years, more or less – the Jews of Poland, Spain, Germany and then everywhere, started leaving us after we were fully formed and going back to Israel. William Butler Yeats and his occultist friends sensed something in this; an ending or beginning: God was moving again in the moon and stars as happened only once every 2,000 years.

Now this:

“This year, with God's help,” Moshe Feiglin, a native-born Israeli leader wrote recently, “there will be more Jews in Israel than anywhere else in the world. This is a sea change in the state of the Jewish nation and the first time since the First Temple era that the majority of Jews has resided in Israel. This summer we start the countdown to the end of the exile.”

It is sure to have a yet unseen effect not only on Jews but also in the external, peripheral realms of time and timelessness: To Ivanhoe, the Templars, the priests, cardinals, saints, popes, explorers and the rest of us – even us New England hippies and Buddhists – who came from the Christian world over the last 2,000 years.

So that is something that might be considered this solstice by those faithful or just curious because without the Jews’ journey north we would not have found our humanity and we would not be anything. Something more than just a curiosity, like our good fortune in Boston when the Red Sox finally beat the Yankees after all those long years.

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