And the little angel forgot about attaining flight for a while. He'd sit on the roof of The Alt-Neu Schule in the midst of Prague (Josefov district, if you know it.. where they made the Jews live), studying people down on the street. He whispered in ears, telling them things that might help them. He told Mrs. Grossman that willow bark (aspirin hadn't been invented yet) would help her arthritis. He told Yankel the Lame to buy that art set and paint. He told Lana from Above The Butcher Shop to marry Nathan and not Eitan. They didn't know who was saying these things. Angels don't announce themselves. Well, not all the time. And every message was channeled through him by an even Higher Authority. He whispered things to people from beyond the district too, for during the day, when the gates were opened, people from all over passed through the ghetto. He told a hardworking farmwife where to place her market stall. He told a barrister fearful for the life of his client what to say and who to seek out so that his client might go free.
The angel attended services, comforting those who mourned. Sometimes he told rich men to help poor, struggling cobblers. He did what angels do and he did it well. Occasionally a little child would wave to him. He'd wave back and go 'shh.' They'd smile and nod.
Winter came. The cobbled lanes grew cold and icy. People wrapped themselves in whatever they had... layers of shawls... old felt boot liners... cloaks.... worn,. cast off, military great coats.... wool caps, sometimes a coachman's hat.
Days were short and sunlight hid from the narrow streets of the quarter. Wives kept old copper tea kettles boiling on the grate for endless cups of warmth. Little boys read school books by the fire and little girls rocked babies and embroidered whatever the mama told them to embroider.
Market stalls opened early and closed early too, for streetlights were few and far between. Mostly the women went out to work the stalls. December was coming and ruffians from beyond the quarter were less apt to gang up and molest older matrons than young girls or men. Tragedies were rare, but they did happen.
The little angel sat on his rooftop and looked at the stars. Some of the grander heavenly guardians and messengers, Seraphim and Arch Angels and beings of that sort, occasionally flew out to the stars and told tales of exotic worlds that raced 'round foreign suns like moths 'round a flame. But our little being knew nothing of that. Soon it would be time for him to walk the walls of the ghetto, paying special attention to the gates, whispering to vandals and telling them to mind their better side and leave the world in peace. Then he visited those with troubled dreams and helped them find peace too.
Time passed. Years went by. Generations. The 'life' of an angel is one of service. He never complained. He never would. But one year a sweet little girl... a light to all around her... passed away. Although he knew she was safe, the people of the quarter were broken and few lit candles or made provisions for the Festival of The Rededication... for The Hanukah. December was exceptionally cold that year.
The angel spent nights in the sanctuary staring at the small, steadfast, Eternal Flame...Then, on Seventh Light (though few observed, or at least failed to make a big thing over it) there was a knock at the rabbi's house next door. Few came by at that hour, so the angel passed through the wall to listen.... It was Beryl the Barrel Maker. He said - Rabbi, the lights in the sky, have you seen the lights in the sky?..... The rabbi said - At this hour and on a cold night like this? No, I do not watch the sky.... Oh, I am of a similar mind - said the barrel maker, but Greenie, my cat (she has such vivid eyes you know) wanted to come in. So I unlatched the door and went out into my tiny rear yard. Rabbi, I saw. I saw them. High overhead they were. A straight line of silver lights, each in the form of a flame and slowly descending from heaven to earth.... The old clergyman thought for a bit. Beryl said - Come, rabbi. Let us go out into your rear yard ( a similar tiny space like the barrel maker's).... So they went and they looked. The angel went with them. And there in the firmament were eight tiny glittering flames, arranged in measured precision, as if held in a great invisible, celestial menorah. One for each night plus the 'sexton' used to kindle the rest. Each of them stared transfixed, as the wondrous spectacle slowly moved down the sky.
In those days, few would have known they'd witnessed the break up of a small comet, or asteroid. Perhaps a learned man from some venerable academy might. Who know? And as he watched, so slowly he did not notice, the angel rose up from the ground, till the roofs of the ghetto shined in the moonlight below him.
Was he afraid? No, for he heard the voice of his stork-mother friend from long ago. She'd flown to The World To Come and just as she said, had come back to share her wings. Spirit storks can do that. The angel, flightless for so long, was quite pleased. But as he was such a caring being, he asked after the sweet, little girl who passed on and the words of the stork were very reassuring indeed.
News of the 'menorah in the sky' quickly spread, till many people came out to see it. On Eighth Light they had a celebration with crisp edged, piping hot potato pancakes, sweet applesauce, nuts and small gifts for the children, plus dreydles and games ands songs.
That's how it is. That's how miracles happen. Life goes on, both here on earth and 'up above' as well.
No matter how you observe The Season Of Miracles, have a good one.
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