All people have stories. All peoples have legends they tell each other around the tended fire or in the field or forest or in drawing rooms, or in temples or cathedrals. But Jews have made their stories, their history, into the Tallis that wraps itself around the shoulders of all its people, past, present, and future. And this wrapping binds us together, insists that we pass it on to our children, and keeps us from falling apart like so many fragments of an exploding star. We won’t explode until the last Jew alive has forgotten the last Jewish story he heard.This wonderful quote comes from an article A Trip to the Library by Anne Roiphe.
Where she talks of visiting the Shrine of the Book reminded me of our recent visit visit there (last year) and turning to our non-Jewish friends (to whom we were acting as tour guides) and saying, with amazement in my voice, that while I couldn't translate the text (my Hebrew is, sadly, just not that good), I could surely read it - across 2000 years. Which is something neither they or I could do with (say) an Anglo-Saxon text of only a little later. Hopefully, that is part of the wonder that Roiphe felt.
By Brian Goldfarb.