Sunday, January 24, 2010


One class was doing the good Samaritan this morning and the older class the prodigal son. I began the class by asking the children aged 9 to 14 if any of them knew the meaning of prodigal. One answer came back 'bad'. When I suggested prodigious as  related, I was able to coax from them a sense of large, even recklessly overflowing. We then applied this 'definition' to the natural world with its abundant fruitfulness, even waste, in its prodigality.

The Hebrew I chose to illustrate prodigality of love (see the libretto for Britten's St Nicholas by Crozier) is Isaiah 49:15. My printer was not available so I handwrote the verse in reverse interlinear last night. It was colourful but a bit crooked. Handwriting Hebrew is a good exercise.  Here it is - Hashem is like a mother. (Green is for grammatical letters and the background brown showing the repeated word).
התשכח אשה עולה מרחם
hatishkàx )ishah `vulah méràxém
Does a woman forget her nursling from the womb
the child of her belly
גם־אלה תשכחנה
gàm)éleh tishkàxnah
even these may forget
ואנכי לא אשכחך
v)anoky lo) )eshkaxék 
but I, I will not forget you

There is a Hebrew parallel difficult to express in English because of the use of the infinitive for having compassion = the noun for womb. Salt for ever sacrifice! Don't believe rigidly any of my translations. I didn't point this out, but it seems to me that עולה מרחם is parallel to בן־בטנה. I did not get into the place of this promise in detail (the time of the exile - the complaint that God had abandoned his people) since I had but 5 minutes. That would apply to a different lesson - this is just on prodigality.

I did not go to the other class since they were already in session. Perhaps one class a week is all I can manage.

I could not find the libretto online but here is the critical verse: "O! he was the prodigal of love! a spendthrift in devotion to us all"

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