The Story of Chanukah

Under Syrian Rule

More than 2000 years ago there was a time when the land of Israel was part of the Syrian-Greek Empire, dominated by Syrian rulers of the dynasty of the Seleucids.

In order to relate the story that led up to Chanukah, we shall start with Antiochus III, the King of Syria, who reigned from 3538 to 3574 (222-186 B.C.E.). He had waged war with King Ptolemy of Egypt over the possession of the Land of Israel. Antiochus III was victorious and the Land of Israel was annexed to his empire. At the beginning of his reign he was favorably disposed toward the Jews and accorded them some privileges. Later on, however, when he was beaten by the Romans and compelled to pay heavy taxes, the burden fell upon the various peoples of his empire who were forced to furnish the heavy gold that was required of him by the Romans. When Antiochus died, his son Seleucus IV took over, and further oppressed the Jews.

Added to the troubles from the outside were the grave perils that threatened Judaism from within. The influence of the Hellenists (people who accepted idol-worship and the Syrian way of life) was increasing. Yochanan, the High Priest, foresaw the danger to Judaism from the penetration of Syrian-Greek influence into the Holy Land. For, in contrast to the ideal of outward beauty held by the Greeks and Syrians, Judaism emphasizes truth and moral purity, as commanded by G‑d in the holy Torah. The Jewish people could never give up their faith in G‑d and accept the idol-worship of the Syrians.

Yochanan was therefore opposed to any attempt on the part of the Jewish Hellenists to introduce Greek and Syrian customs into the land. The Hellenists hated him. One of them told the King’s commissioner that in the treasury of the Temple there was a great deal of wealth.

The wealth in the treasury consisted of the contributions of „half a shekel” made by all adult Jews annually. That was given for the purpose of the sacrifices on the altar, as well as for fixing and improving the Temple building. Another part of the treasury consisted of orphans’ funds which were deposited for them until they became of age. Seleucus needed money in order to pay the Romans. He sent his minister Helyodros to take the money from the treasury of the Temple. In vain did Yochanan, the High Priest, beg him not to do it. Helyodros did not listen and entered the gate of the Temple. But suddenly, he became pale with fright. The next moment he fainted and fell to the ground. After Helyodros came to, he did not dare enter again.

The Madman: Antiochus

A short time later, Seleucus was killed and his brother Antiochus IV began to reign over Syria (in 3586 – 174 B.C.E.). He was a tyrant of a rash and impetuous nature, contemptuous of religion and of the feelings of others. He was called „Epiphanes,” meaning „the gods’ beloved.” Several of the Syrian rulers received similar titles. But a historian of his time, Polebius, gave him the epithet Epimanes („madman”), a title more suitable to the character of this harsh and cruel king.

Desiring to unify his kingdom through the medium of a common religion and culture, Antiochus tried to root out the individualism of the Jews by suppressing all the Jewish Laws. He removed the righteous High Priest, Yochanan, from the Temple in Jerusalem, and in his place installed Yochanan’s brother Joshua, who loved to call himself by the Greek name of Jason. For he was a member of the Hellenist party, and he used his high office to spread more and more of the Greek customs among the priesthood.

Joshua or Jason was later replaced by another man, Menelaus, who had promised the king that he would bring in more money than Jason did. When Yochanan, the former High Priest, protested against the spread of the Hellenists’ influence in the Holy Temple, the ruling High Priest hired murderers to assassinate him.

Antiochus was at that time engaged in a successful war against Egypt. But messengers from Rome arrived and commanded him to stop the war, and he had to yield. Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, a rumor spread that a serious accident had befallen Antiochus. Thinking that he was dead, the people rebelled against Menelaus. The treacherous High Priest fled together with his friends.

The Martyrs

Antiochus returned from Egypt enraged by Roman interference with his ambitions. When he heard what had taken place in Jerusalem, he ordered his army to fall upon the Jews. Thousands of Jews were killed. Antiochus then enacted a series of harsh decrees against the Jews. Jewish worship was forbidden; the scrolls of the Law were confiscated and burned. Sabbath rest, circumcision and the dietary laws were prohibited under penalty of death. Even one of the respected elders of that generation, Rabbi Eliezer, a man of 90, was ordered by the servants of Antiochus to eat pork so that others would do the same. When he refused they suggested to him that he pick up the meat to his lips to appear to be eating. But Rabbi Eliezer refused to do even that and was put to death.

There were thousands of others who likewise sacrificed their lives. The famous story of Hannah and her seven children happened at that time.

Antiochus’s men went from town to town and from village to village to force the inhabitants to worship pagan gods. Only one refuge area remained and that was the hills of Judea with their caves. But even there did the Syrians pursue the faithful Jews, and many a Jew died a martyr’s death.


One day the henchmen of Antiochus arrived in the village of Modiin where Mattityahu, the old priest, lived. The Syrian officer built an altar in the marketplace of the village and demanded that Mattityahu offer sacrifices to the Greek gods. Mattityahu replied, „I, my sons and my brothers are determined to remain loyal to the covenant which our G‑d made with our ancestors!”

Thereupon, a Hellenistic Jew approached the altar to offer a sacrifice. Mattityahu grabbed his sword and killed him, and his sons and friends fell upon the Syrian officers and men. They killed many of them and chased the rest away. They then destroyed the altar.

Mattityahu knew that Antiochus would be enraged when he heard what had happened. He would certainly send an expedition to punish him and his followers. Mattityahu, therefore, left the village of Modiin and fled together with his sons and friends to the hills of Judea.

All loyal and courageous Jews joined them. They formed legions and from time to time they left their hiding places to fall upon enemy detachments and outposts, and to destroy the pagan altars that were built by order of Antiochus.

The Maccabees

Before his death, Mattityahu called his sons together and urged them to continue to fight in defense of G d’s Torah. He asked them to follow the counsel of their brother Shimon the Wise. In waging warfare, he said, their leader should be Judah the Strong. Judah was called „Maccabee,” a word composed of the initial letters of the four Hebrew words Mi Kamocha Ba’eilim Hashem, „Who is like You, O G‑d.”

Antiochus sent his General Apolonius to wipe out Judah and his followers, the Maccabees. Though greater in number and equipment than their adversaries, the Syrians were defeated by the Maccabees. Antiochus sent out another expedition which also was defeated. He realized that only by sending a powerful army could he hope to defeat Judah and his brave fighting men.

An army consisting of more than 40,000 men swept the land under the leadership of two commanders, Nicanor and Gorgiash. When Judah and his brothers heard of that, they exclaimed: „Let us fight unto death in defense of our souls and our Temple!” The people assembled in Mitzpah, where Samuel, the prophet of old, had offered prayers to G‑d. After a series of battles the war was won.

The Dedication

Now the Maccabees returned to Jerusalem to liberate it. They entered the Temple and cleared it of the idols placed there by the Syrian vandals. Judah and his followers built a new altar, which he dedicated on the twenty-fifth of the month of Kislev, in the year 3622 (139 B.C.E.).

Since the golden Menorah had been stolen by the Syrians, the Maccabees now made one of cheaper metal. When they wanted to light it, they found only a small cruse of pure olive oil bearing the seal of the High Priest Yochanan. It was sufficient to light only for one day. By a miracle of G‑d, it continued to burn for eight days, till new oil was made available. That miracle proved that G‑d had again taken His people under His protection. In memory of this, our sages appointed these eight days for annual thanksgiving and for lighting candles.

After Chanukah

The brightness of the first Chanukah light had dwindled down. But the holy fires on the altar burnt again in the Beit Hamikdash, from morning to morning, as prescribed by the Law. The priests were again busily officiating in the old customary ways, and day in, day out they prepared the offerings. Order and peace seemed established.

The Jewish farmer longed to return to his land after two years of hardship, privation and danger in the victorious Jewish army. It was high time to break the ground and to till the soil, if the barley was to grow and ripen in time for „Omer-offering” on Passover. The Jewish farmers had left their ploughs to rally about the heroic Chashmonaim. The first victories had drawn even the hesitant into the ranks of the enthusiastic Jewish rebels, led by the sons of Mattityahu. Farmers had forsaken their land, merchants and tradesmen their stores and shops. Even Torah students had emerged from the four walls of the Bet Hamidrash to join the fight against the oppressors.

But the songs of victory, which had filled the reclaimed Holy Temple with praise and gratitude for the merciful G‑d, had ceased. The goal of the battle seemed reached, and Torah again was supreme law in Israel.

One man, though, realized that the time for a return to normal living had not yet come. Israel could not yet afford to relax; it would have to stand ready and prepare to carry on the fight against the overwhelming odds of the enemy. This man was Judah Maccabi. His name was upon everyone’s lips and in every Jewish heart. He was admired as a hero, as a man with the heart of a lion and the simple piety of a child; as the one whose mighty armies fought and conquered, yet who never failed to pray to G‑d, the Master of all battles, before he entered the fray.

It was not the spirited warrior’s joy that made Judah Maccabi stay in camp. His heart, too, longed to return to his former peaceful life, to Modiin, the quiet town of priests, which held the grave of his adored father. Bloodshed and battle meant a hard and unwanted profession for the men of Judea, who preferred peace to strife. Yet this was no time for relenting. Not only had he to stay, but with all the persuasion of his magnetic personality he had to hold back his comrades-at-arms. His own reasoning and his two wise brothers, Shimon and Yonatan, told him that only the first phase of this war of liberation had passed. Hard and desperate times were yet to come. Clever enemies merely needed an extended lull to prepare new assaults with more troops and better equipment. And there were enemies all about Judea, besides the defeated Syrians. The neighboring countries begrudged the dazzling victories of the small Jewish armies. They would much rather have seen the people of Judea oppressed and humiliated, than armed and spirited, a threat to their own lands. Whence had come the sudden source of strength, courage and fortitude? What was there in this nation that made history in proud seclusion and isolation from other nations? Old hatred was revived. The descendants of Edom (the Idumeans), the Ammonites, the Philistines and Phoenicians, they all revived their ancient jealousies.

Messengers arrived from Gilead. The pagan people joined forces to destroy Judea. From Galilee came the bad news of similar evil intentions and active preparations in Ptolemais, Tyre and Zidon. The messengers found Judah Maccabi already at work. Fortifications had to be thrown up around Zion. Towers, walls, battlements and moat had to be constructed opposite the fort still held by their worst enemies, the Hellenistic Jews, under the leadership of the false priest Menelaus. These hated everything Jewish, and lived in the hope of the return of the Syrian masters. Judah Maccabi prepared Jerusalem against them and against imminent assault by the troops of Antiochus. Under his supervision the Jewish people worked feverishly to refill their arsenals and turn the whole country into a stronghold.

Once this most important task was accomplished, Judah Maccabi led his freshly trained troops to the aid of the regions and villages harassed by the spiteful neighbors of Judea. He drove the Idumeans from Hebron, which they had annexed, and he punished the people who had acted with hostility towards the Jewish settlers. Then he led his army across the Jordan River against the Ammonites. Their capital fell before the furious onslaught of the Jewish troops, and so did their fortress, Yaeser. Judah’s brother Shimon led an army north to aid the plagued Jews of Galilee. He defeated the enemy and cleared the Jewish land. At his urging, a great many of the Jewish settlers who had fled to Jerusalem, returned to rebuild in safety what had been destroyed during the years of weakness. Judah Maccabi and Yonatan joined forces and marched against Gilead, where they were met with the toughest resistance. By Shavuot, this campaign was successfully concluded.

Judea was again free, and all parts captured by the neighboring nation had been recovered. Celebrations and festivity transformed Jerusalem and the Holy Temple, hardly half a year after the victories over the Syrian armies. The Jewish people expressed their joy and gratitude to G‑d in the form of psalms and offerings. For He had restored glory and liberty to the Jewish land.

Excerpted from The Complete Story of Chanukah by Dr Nissan Mindel, published by Kehot

„Our DNA is divine”

Image credit: Rose B. Simpson, Genesis (detail), 2017, sculpture.

Finding Ourselves in God

Father Richard reminds us that we are created in the image and likeness of God, which offers us a solid foundation from which we can operate in the world.

The biblical creation story says, “Let us make humans in our image” (Genesis 1:26). The plural pronoun is a first hint that we are going to be brought into a relational, participatory, and shared life. The secret is somehow planted within our deepest identity and slowly reveals itself—if we are attentive to this “reverence humming in [us],” as Jane Fonda once described it. [1]

Our DNA is divine, and the divine indwelling is never earned by any behavior, group membership, or ritual whatsoever, but only recognized and realized (see Romans 11:6; Ephesians 2:8–10) and thus fallen in love with. When we are ready, we will be both underwhelmed and overwhelmed at the boundless mystery of our own humanity. We will know we are standing under the same waterfall of mercy as everybody else and receiving an undeserved radical grace, which is the root cause of every ensouled being.

When I started in ministry in the early 1970s in Cincinnati and worked with young people, it seemed like I spent most of the time trying to convince teenagers that they were good. They all seemed to endlessly hate and doubt themselves, often with a little help from parenting and clergy. Later I saw it in adults, too, who were also well practiced in hating and fearing themselves. What the Scriptures promise us is that we are objectively and inherently children of God (see 1 John 3:2). And you can’t change that!  This is not psychological worthiness; it is ontological, metaphysical, substantial worthiness that cannot be gained or lost. When this given God image becomes our operative self-image, we are home free! Such a Gospel is just about the best good news anyone could hope for!

I am convinced that so much guilt, negative self-image, self-hatred, and self-preoccupation occurs because we have taken our cues and identity from a competitive and comparing world. But Jesus told us to never take this world as normative. Jesus asks, “Why do you look to one another for approval instead of the approval that comes from the one God?” (John 5:44). So many of us accept either a successful or a low self-image inside of a system of false images to begin with! (Smart, good looking, classy, loser—are all just words humans create). This will never work. We must find our true self “hidden within Christ in God,” as Paul says in Colossians 3:3. Or, as Teresa of Ávila envisioned God telling her, “If you wish to find Me / In yourself seek Me. [2] Then we do not go up and down, but we are built on the Rock of Ages. It is the very shape of all spiritual maturity, regardless of what religion we may belong to.

[1] Anthony DeCurtis, “Jane Fonda,” Rolling Stone, no. 1025/1026 (May 2007): 102–5.

[2] Teresa, “Seeking God,” in The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, vol. 3, trans. Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez (ICS Publications: 1985), 385.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (Crossroad Publishing: 2009), 22; and

Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent (Franciscan Media: 2008), 55–56. 

Image Credit: Rose B. SimpsonGenesis (detail), 2017, sculpture.

We featured the artist of these sculptures, Rose B. Simpson, at our recent CONSPIRE conference—so many of us were impacted by her creations that we decided to share her work with our Daily Meditations community for the month of November.

Image Inspiration: My art changed entirely when I became a parent. I never understood the true creative nature until I created a human being and the responsibility, the unconditional love, the fear, the intimacy and vulnerability that comes with it. . . and understand when we can love that deeply how we feel the presence of a larger parent. 
—Rose B. Simpson, CONSPIRE Interview, 2021

„Creating God in Our Own Image”

Sunday, November 28th, 2021 First Sunday of Advent

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

From the Center for Action and Contemplation

Creating God in Our Own Image

The Advent season begins with Scriptures that focus on the “second coming” of Christ. At times, this has been presented as a frightening event, exacerbated by the negative images of God which many Christians hold. Father Richard writes:Your image of God creates you—or defeats you.

There is an absolute connection between how we see God and how we see ourselves and the universe. The word “God” is a stand-in word for everything—Reality, truth, and the very shape of our universe. This is why good theology and spirituality can make such a major difference in how we live our daily lives in this world. God is Reality with a Face—which is the only way most humans know how to relate to anything.

There has to be a face!

After years of giving and receiving spiritual direction, it has become clear to me and to many of my colleagues that most people’s operative image of God is initially a subtle combination of their mom and dad, or other early authority figures.

Without an interior journey of prayer or inner experience, much of religion is largely childhood conditioning, which God surely understands and uses. Yet atheists and many former Christians rightly react against this because such religion is so childish and often fear-based, and so they argue against a caricature of faith. I would not believe in that god myself!

Our goal, of course, is to grow toward an adult religion that includes reason, faith, and inner experience we can trust.

A mature God creates mature people. A big God creates big people. A punitive God creates punitive people.If our mothers were punitive, our God is usually punitive too. We will then spend much of our lives submitting to that punitive God or angrily reacting against it. If our father figures were cold and withdrawn, we will assume that God is cold and withdrawn too—all Scriptures, Jesus, and mystics to the contrary. If all authority in our lives came through men, we probably assume and even prefer a male image of God, even if our hearts desire otherwise. As we were taught in Scholastic philosophy, “whatever is received is received in the manner of the receiver.”

This is one of those things hidden in plain sight, but it still remains well-hidden to most Christians.All of this is mirrored in political worldviews as well. Good theology makes for good politics and positive social relationships. Bad theology makes for stingy politics, a largely reward/punishment frame, xenophobia, and highly controlled relationships.For me, as a Christian, the still underdeveloped image of God as Trinity is the way out and the way through all limited concepts of God. Jesus comes to invite us into an Infinite and Eternal Flow of Perfect Love between Three—which flows only in one, entirely positive direction. There is no “backsplash” in the Trinity but only Infinite Outpouring—which is the entire universe. Yet even here we needed to give each of the three a placeholder name, a “face,” and a personality.

Aucune description de photo disponible.

A. Răduț, ”Privind soarele” — catalinafrancoblog

A. Răduț, ”Privind soarele”

Prinde-mă de mână, voi ști când cazi !

Prinde-mă și nu mă lăsa !

În această lume mizeră trebuie să știi când să arzi,

Sufletul punându-l în palma celui ce are in ochi acea stea.

Mă vei recunoaște după un semn,

Vei ști că fiecare respirație a mea înseamnă viață,

Pe strada albastră te voi privi adânc, […]

A. Răduț, ”Privind soarele” — catalinafrancoblog

Recunoștința ca stare — Pași către propriul suflet

Azi simt nevoia să mulțumesc tuturor pacienților mei pentru că au ales demersul terapeutic ca modalitate de a-și face viața mai frumoasă dar mai ales să le mulțumesc pentru că m-au ales să îi însoțesc în drumul lor către mai bine. Pentru că, ce este frumos în profesia asta grea și cosumatoare de energie este […]

Recunoștința ca stare — Pași către propriul suflet

Vai si iar vai! Unde esti, nene Iancule?

Revista Presei – 26 noiembrie.„Important e să luăm act de eșecul comun al unei guvernări care și-a extras legitimitatea din ideea că este superioară PSD atât la nivel moral, cât și la nivelul competenței celor promovați în funcții. Pandemia și problemele structurale ale statului român nu trebuie să relativizeze evidența eșecului politic și moral.” — PoliteiaWorld

Buna dimineata intr-o zi de vineri, 26 noiembrie! Vineri, temperaturile maxime pe regiuni vor arăta astfel: 11 grade în Moldova, 11 în Transilvania, 11 în Maramureș, 12 în Crișana, 11 în Banat, 13 în Muntenia, 9 în Oltenia și 14 în Dobrogea. Ploile se întorc și ocupă cea mai mare parte a țării, cu excepția…

Revista Presei – 26 noiembrie.„Important e să luăm act de eșecul comun al unei guvernări care și-a extras legitimitatea din ideea că este superioară PSD atât la nivel moral, cât și la nivelul competenței celor promovați în funcții. Pandemia și problemele structurale ale statului român nu trebuie să relativizeze evidența eșecului politic și moral.” — PoliteiaWorld

Je recommande chaleureusement

  Format : 16,5 x 11,5 cm, 160 pagesgencod : 979-10-94621-41-79 €Commande en ligneService de Presse pour recension   PAROISSE ET FAMILLE
Centre Saint-Jean-de-la-Croix, 36230 Mers-sur-Indretél fax 02 54 31 09 24 CCP 398 56 59 D La Source Siret 380 478 925 00015
avec Abraham le père des croyant.
La lectio divina, lecture priante de l’Écriture Sainte dans la tradition monastique, ne demande qu’à nourrir la vie spirituelle de tout chrétien. Lire la Bible, un livre rédigé sur vingt siècles ! Beaucoup de chrétiens s’y sont essayés… sans succès. Avec LA LECTIO DIVINA pas à pas, Sœur Isabelle Lepoutre transforme en compagnon familier le livre le plus imprimé dans le monde – «livre brûlant comme les flammes ! livre dans lequel Dieu nous parle» (pape François).Pour tout croyant désireux de goûter la Parole de Dieu, un manuel tout simple, qui ouvre les bonnes portes et guide par les bons chemins jusqu’à la Terre promise.
Sœur Isabelle Lepoutre, o.p
dominicaine d’Estavayer-le-lac (Suisse)

„Moi, je suis l’Alpha et l’Oméga, dit le Seigneur Dieu”

Melech ha olam

Livre de l’Apocalypse 1,5-8.

À vous, la grâce et la paix de la part de Jésus Christ, le témoin fidèle, le premier-né des morts, le prince des rois de la terre. À lui qui nous aime, qui nous a délivrés de nos péchés par son sang,
qui a fait de nous un royaume et des prêtres pour son Dieu et Père, à lui, la gloire et la souveraineté pour les siècles des siècles. Amen.
Voici qu’il vient avec les nuées, tout œil le verra, ils le verront, ceux qui l’ont transpercé ; et sur lui se lamenteront toutes les tribus de la terre. Oui ! Amen !
Moi, je suis l’Alpha et l’Oméga, dit le Seigneur Dieu, Celui qui est, qui était et qui vient, le Souverain de l’univers.

Évangile de Jésus-Christ selon saint Jean 18,33b-37.

En ce temps-là, Pilate appela Jésus et lui dit : « Es-tu le roi des Juifs ? »
Jésus lui demanda : « Dis-tu cela de toi-même, ou bien d’autres te l’ont dit à mon sujet ? »
Pilate répondit : « Est-ce que je suis juif, moi ? Ta nation et les grands prêtres t’ont livré à moi : qu’as-tu donc fait ? »
Jésus déclara : « Ma royauté n’est pas de ce monde ; si ma royauté était de ce monde, j’aurais des gardes qui se seraient battus pour que je ne sois pas livré aux Juifs. En fait, ma royauté n’est pas d’ici. »
Pilate lui dit : « Alors, tu es roi ? » Jésus répondit : « C’est toi-même qui dis que je suis roi. Moi, je suis né, je suis venu dans le monde pour ceci : rendre témoignage à la vérité. Quiconque appartient à la vérité écoute ma voix. »

Extrait de la Traduction Liturgique de la Bible – © AELF, Paris

Sainte Thérèse d’Avila (1515-1582)
carmélite, docteur de l’Église
Le Chemin de la perfection, 22 (trad. Grégoire de Saint-Joseph,‎ o.c.d. ; Éd. Seuil, p. 143s rev.)

« Ma royauté ne vient pas de ce monde »

Tu es roi pour l’éternité, mon Dieu (…) ; quand on dit dans le Credo que ton « royaume n’aura pas de fin », presque toujours j’en éprouve une joie toute particulière. Je te loue, Seigneur, je te bénis à jamais ! Enfin ton royaume durera éternellement !
Ne permets jamais, Maître, que ceux qui t’adressent la parole croient pouvoir le faire du bout des lèvres. (…)
Assurément, quand on va trouver un prince, on ne lui parle pas avec le même laisser-aller qu’à un paysan ou qu’à une pauvre religieuse comme nous. De quelque façon qu’on nous parle, ce sera toujours bien.
Sans doute, l’humilité de notre roi est telle que malgré mon ignorance des règles du langage, il n’arrête pas de m’écouter et de me permettre d’approcher de lui.
Ses gardes ne me repoussent pas, car les anges qui l’entourent n’ignorent pas que leur roi apprécie plus la simplicité d’un petit berger bien humble, qui dirait davantage s’il le pouvait, que tous les beaux raisonnements des plus grands savants et des lettrés, s’ils ne sont pas humbles.
Mais si notre roi est bon, ce n’est pas une raison de nous montrer grossiers. Ne serait-ce que pour lui témoigner ma gratitude de ce qu’il daigne supporter près de lui une personne aussi repoussante que moi, il est juste que je reconnaisse sa noblesse et sa grandeur.
En vérité, il suffit de l’approcher pour comprendre cela. (…) Oui, approchez de lui, mes filles, mais songez et comprenez à qui vous allez parler, ou à qui vous parlez déjà. Après mille vies comme la nôtre vous n’arriverez pas encore à comprendre les égards que mérite un tel Seigneur, devant qui tremblent les anges. Il commande tout, il peut tout ; pour lui, vouloir c’est faire. Il est juste, mes filles, que nous cherchions à nous réjouir des grandeurs de notre Époux, que nous comprenions de qui nous sommes les épouses, et donc que nous sachions quelle doit être la sainteté de notre vie.

Vincent —

Autor: Andrei Manolescu

„Ce multe spune acest nume… unic! Eram în clasele primare cînd profesoara de desen ne-a arătat un autoportret al său dintr-un album și ne-a dat drept temă să încercăm să-l copiem pe blocurile noastre de desen, cu pasteluri colorate. Să-l copiem??!! Mi-aduc aminte că am simțit atunci ceva neobișnuit privind portretul. Chiar și dintr-o biată reproducere pe hîrtie răzbătea o forță de iradiere considerabilă.

Cîțiva ani mai tîrziu, am fost cu mama într-o excursie în Uniunea Sovietică. Am mai povestit cum, la un moment dat, la Moscova, ne-am desprins de grupul de excursioniști, ceea ce nu era prea simplu în vremurile acelea, și ne-am dus pe cont propriu la Muzeul Pușkin. Mama știa ea că acolo erau expuse cîteva picturi ale lui Van Gogh. Ajunși în sala cu pricina, a exclamat dintr-odată, bucuroasă de confirmare: „Ia uite-l!“. Și aproape că m-a forțat să stau și să privesc „Via roșie“ timp de minute bune. Mi-a explicat cum, uneori, pictorul punea vopseaua pe pînză cu cuțitul. Ce nebunie… Nu mai știu cînd am aflat că „Via roșie“ a fost singura pictură în ulei a lui Van Gogh care i s-a vîndut în timpul vieții. Astăzi, cînd o văd reprodusă pe undeva, tresar. Doar am stat atunci nemișcat în fața ei cel puțin un sfert de oră. Deși nu prea înțelegeam care-i chestia, mama mi-a spus că așa ceva e de ținut minte. Am ținut minte. Ba chiar aș spune că undeva în mine s-a cuibărit definitiv o fascinație pentru Van Gogh. Vreo douăzeci de ani mai tîrziu, cînd am fost pentru prima oară la Musée D’Orsay, în sala unde erau expuse picturile lui, am amuțit. Venea după săli întregi cu mulți alți impresioniști celebri. Era ca o încununare a tot ce văzusem. Numai că francezii, patrioți, au considerat că era cazul ca în ultima sală din acel sector să-l pună pe al lor Cézanne. Ei bine, trebuie să spun că, după Van Gogh, Cézanne, cît o fi el de mare, mi s-a părut de neprivit. Culorile lui păreau diluate, ca la blugii prespălați, era ca un ceai de mușețel după o beție cu absint. Poate că între timp aranjamentul acela s-o mai fi schimbat, spre binele lui Cézanne. 

De curînd am citit că, la un moment dat, cei doi s-au întîlnit la Paris. Cézanne, mai bătrîn cu 14 ani și mai cunoscut decît Van Gogh cel care se zbătea în anonimat (cum, de altfel, a făcut-o întreaga viață), i-a studiat atent cîteva pînze și apoi a exclamat dînd din cap: „Sincer vorbind, dumneata faci o pictură de nebun!“. Nebun, da, dar ce nebun! Unul care a reușit să biruie orice aparențe, care a căutat adevărul, aruncîndu-se în hăurile frămîntate ale universului.

Colosala sa putere de expresie își are cu siguranță baza nu doar în talentul de geniu, ci și în acea capacitate de a trăi arta pînă la ultimele consecințe, adică pînă la a mînca, la propriu, culoarea din tuburi și pînă la sinucidere.

S-a vorbit mult și despre boala lui Van Gogh. Pe pagina de Wikipedia în română care îi este consacrată, chiar în primul paragraf apare formularea „a suferit de boli mintale, care la vîrsta de 37 ani l-au dus la sinucidere“. Ca într-o descriere de la știrile de la ora cinci, despre nea Gogu. În pasionanta biografie pe care a scris-o, Henri Perruchot a combătut astfel de raportări la persoana lui Van Gogh: „Ceea ce a condiționat geniul lui Van Gogh a condiționat toate accidentele din viața sa și i-a condiționat și nebunia. Nu trebuie să se vorbească de Vincent ca de un bolnav oarecare (…). Cazul lui Van Gogh nu poate fi socotit numai un caz medical, după cum nici nu este numai un caz estetic. Este mai cu seamă cazul unui om, atras fără scăpare de o imensă chemare mistică, ce vrea să pășească și care pășește, într-un iureș nebunesc, dincolo de hotarele umanului. Cazul său este cel al tuturor marilor mistici, al tuturor eroilor Cunoașterii. Fiind astfel, iese din cadrul obișnuitelor măsuri de apreciere și nici nu se poate altfel“. Perruchot îl citează și pe dramaturgul Arthur Adamov, care spunea că, în cazul lui Van Gogh, „patologia nu explică nimic“.    

Dar ce-i scria însuși pictorul fratelui său Theo, în urmă cu 140 de ani? „Ce sînt eu în ochii celor mai mulți oameni? O nulitate, un smintit sau un sucit, unul care n-are și nu va dobîndi nicicînd o situație în societate, pe scurt, ceva mai puțin decît nimic. Bine, să presupunem că acesta-i adevărul; dar în acest caz, aș vrea să arăt prin opera mea ce se ascunde în inima unui astfel de zănatec, unei astfel de nulități“.        

Săptămîna trecută, o pictură a lui Van Gogh, furată de naziști și reapărută, a fost vîndută cu aproape 36 de milioane de dolari, un nou record pentru o acuarelă pe hîrtie de-a lui.      

Cum vedem, astăzi Van Gogh nu doar că se vinde bine dar e și de-a dreptul popular, deja există tricouri și sacoșe imprimate cu „Noapte înstelată“ sau cu floarea-soarelui pictată de el. Acum se și reinterpretează totul, chiar și faimosul moment al tăierii urechii. Cică i-ar fi tăiat-o Gauguin. Pentru unii contemporani, „Vincent“ e cool, pentru alții e tipul clasic al geniului neînțeles, unii sînt interesați de povestea tumultuoasă a vieții lui, alții sînt atrași de ceea ce-și închipuie a fi tot felul de taine încă nedeslușite și de scenarii legate de existența sa (ce-a fost cu urechea tăiată, cine l-a omorît de fapt etc.).

Mie mi se pare că el a dus pictura dincolo de granițele ei posibile. Atît de departe, că uneori mi se face chiar frică s-o privesc. La fel ca atunci cînd ascult ultimele cvartete de coarde ale lui Beethoven.”