Kinah 4-Salieri & Mozart

Jun 29th, 2013 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays
Salieri: Men say there is no justice upon earth.

But neither is there justice in the heavens!

That’s clear to me as any simple scale.

For I was born with a great love for art:

When – still a child – I heard the organ peal

Its lofty measures through our ancient church,

I listened all attention – and sweet tears,

Suite and involuntary tears would flow.

Though young, I spurned all frivolous pursuits:

All studies else than music were to me

Repugnant; and with stubborn arrogance

I turned from them to dedicate myself

To music only. Hard is the first step

And tiresome the first journey. I overcame

Early discomfitures; and craftsmanship

I set up as a pedestal for art;

Only then, tested and proved in science,

I ventured to indulge creative fancy. I started to create, but secretly,

Not daring yet even to dream of glory.

At last fame deigned

To smile on me; and in the hearts of men

I found an echo to my own creation.

Then I was happy, and enjoyed in peace

My labors, my success, my fame

My fellow workers in the art divine.

But now, myself I say it, now

I do know envy! Yes, Salieri envies,

Deeply, in anguish envies, O ye Heavens!

Where, where is justice, when the sacred gift,

When deathless genius comes not to reward

Perfervid love and utter self-denial,

And toils and strivings and beseeching prayers,

But puts her halo round a lackwit’s skull,

A frivolous idler’s brow? O Mozart, Mozart!

(Aleksandr Pushkin, ‘Mozart and Salieri’)

Ezekiel, Chapter 23, depicts the kingdoms of the Ten Tribes and of Judah as to unfaithful wives, Ohola and Oholiva – Her Tent and Her Tent Is In Her – Samaria, the capital of the Ten Tribes, was constructed as a replica of Jerusalem with her temple, but the real Temple was not there. It was in Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, in which Her Tent, the Temple, stood.

I read this Kinah, this conversation between Jerusalem and Samaria, through the eyes of Pushkin’s description of the conversations between Salieri and Mozart:

Mozart: The merest trifle. One night lately,

As I was tossing on my sleepless bed,

Into my head came two or three ideas.

Today I wrote them down, and I should like

To hear your comments on them; but at present

You can’t attend to me.

Salieri listens to what Mozart described as a “merest trifle.”

Salieri: If he lives on, then all of us will perish-

High priests and servants of the art of music-

Not I alone with my overshadowed glory.

And what will it avail if Mozart live

And scale still higher summits of perfection?

Will he thereby raise art itself? No, no,

‘Twill fall again, when once he disappears.

He will not leave a single heir behind.

Then what can he avail us? Like a cherub

He brings to us some songs of paradise,

And awakens in us children of the dust

A wingless longing, then he flies away!

Imagine the people of Samaria looking toward Jerusalem and wondering I what merit did they have God’s Temple in their midst. Why did a relatively insignificant city such as Jerusalem have the privilege of the Holy Temple at its center? Did the Temple change the inhabitants of Jerusalem? Did it make a mark on them? Did it leave a mark on the people of Judah? How can we look to such greatness without understanding its place in our normal lives?

How did the people of Jerusalem respond when hearing such laments from Samaria? Did they know how to respond to these questions?

Do we?

Author Info:
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