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This is how the book I'm reading begins:

Sometime, somewhere, between Africa and Hindustan, lay a river so Jewish it observed the Sabbath. According to the ninth-century traveller Eldad the Danite, for six days of the week the Sambatyon pushed a heavy load of rocks along its sandy course. On the seventh day, like the Creator of the universe, the river rested.

Having caught my breath, for who could not be breathless at such beauty, I begin to wonder: Is this who we are, every one of us a Sambatyon, a Sysyphean river, or a tribe of one lost on the other side, and at the same time the dividing line between this and that.

Caught in a paradox: on the day on which the river ceases to flow and the rocks are like stepping stones, we may not cross; and on the days we may cross, it rages and threatens to kill anyone who steps into it.

This is Kafka long before Kafka. But Kafka is a jackdaw. A jackdaw can cross; you and I cannot. We go to work, we carry the stones and we are trapped. We have forgotten to fly. We carry the stones. And we have forgotten the seventh day when the urge to rise up has ceased.

Harris Gulko, Sambatyon


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