Third candle

Mr. Thornton (Richard Armitage) reacts to the news of the death of his teacher and friend, Mr. Hale, as brought to him by Higgins (Brendan Coyle). Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery.

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[Richard Armitage has stated that in lieu of a present at the holidays, he would prefer that you consider the needs of the less fortunate. Here’s a link to his list of approved charities. Richard Armitage Net also reports his recent voiceover for a child sponsorship appeal from ActionAid UK.]

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Another stolen menorah photo. Note here the motif of the two tablets of the Ten Command- ments under the Star of David (or as we call it, the Magen David, the shield of David), which was probably originally a mystical symbol or taken from amulets. In any case, it’s a relatively new symbol of Judaism, and the Star of David also makes its appearance in a great deal of Christian iconography.

A moment of endings here. I finished my last lecture of the semester yesterday. Our term ended today. A respected colleague and important teacher gave his last lecture this morning, serenaded at the end by a jazz quartet that made the unfortunate choice of “Oh, When the Saints Go Marching In,” which might have made him feel like he was dying and not just retiring. I wondered. He said goodbye only very briefly despite the hullaballoo. A great talk with my favorite graduate student, interrupted briefly by the sudden unexpected appearance of my predecessor in this job, whom I have not seen in ten years — someone who left it before she had planned to, just as I will be doing in a few months. And just now, an email message that my doctoral adviser has died (aged 83). May his memory be for a blessing. ברוך … דין האמת.

From Ecclesiasticus 44: Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us. The Lord hath wrought great glory by them through his great power from the beginning. […] Leaders of the people by their counsels, and by their knowledge of learning meet for the people, wise and eloquent are their instructions: […] But these were merciful men, whose righteousness hath not been forgotten. […] Their seed shall remain for ever, and their glory shall not be blotted out. Their bodies are buried in peace; but their name liveth for evermore. The people will tell of their wisdom, and the congregation will shew forth their praise.

In a way this news seems like divine providence. I’ll write more about him, maybe, when the news has had time to settle. He was an important and respected scholar, but more importantly, he was a good man, a kind man, a righteous man. He died without children, unless you count the over fifty scholars whose Ph.D.s he midwifed in the second half of the twentieth century. Mine, in 1998, was one of the last.

Today I’m not offering Mr. Armitage a gift but planning to use one of the many he’s given us in the last decade, as I’ll probably descend into North & South tonight. Thanks, Mr. Armitage.

I’d originally planned to say something about the light aspect of the holiday, but at the moment I feel mostly gathering shadow. It’s also Shabbat in a few hours, and I’ll try to remember that we do not mourn on Shabbat. I need those lights to keep burning, and I’ll trust that there’ll be one more candle tomorrow.

~ by Servetus on December 3, 2010.

16 Responses to “Third candle”

  1. Dear servetus,
    You must feel somewhat staggered by the events of today. Understandably so. And so, I have reflected on your post from the other day which moved me so much and which has brought me a great deal of comfort. I hope your reflection brings you the comfort it did me. Shalom.

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  2. You express your feelings about the the people who have surrounded you and formed you so eloquently. Thank you for sharing!

    That was a beautiful verse from Ecclesiastes. I’m assuming it’s from the King James version.

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  3. It is hard to say something supportive, but your own words were so wonderful: “May his memory be for a blessing.” In this way I hope you can keep your professor in good memory.
    Shalom and thank you for letting us participate with your celebrations and sorrows.

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  4. Sorry to hear about your mentor. He sounds like a blessing to all that knew him.

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  5. I’m sorry about your recent loss. I know there’s nothing that can be said at a time like this. Sounds like he had a profound influence on you and others he mentored and the world was a better place because of all he gave to others.
    Hope you get time to reflect and relax now that the semester is over.

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  6. Sorry about your loss. Like they say, as long as someone is remembered, they’re still with us, and it sounds like he’s going to be with “us” for a very long time. 🙂

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  7. Dear servetus, I hope that the rites and beauties of Chanukkah lend comfort to you in the wake of your mentor’s loss.

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  8. I want to thank you all for these wishes very belatedly. . The last several weeks have been so chaotic that I didn’t have time to think about much of anything. But I so appreciated your support.

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  9. […] nowhere near as bad as last, let alone two years ago, and in thinking over the upcoming yorzeit of my doctoral adviser (who was a UCC Congregationalist, admittedly), and the upcoming decisive anniversaries for […]

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  10. […] nothing more is going to get written tonight. My thoughts have been on the yorzeit of my doctoral adviser and various otherwheres. And I’m not used to celebrating Chanukkah and Christmas at the same […]

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  11. […] was trying to write about just this theme on the third night a year ago, and then stopped because I learned my doctoral adviser had died. The underlying questions have not […]

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  12. […] my doctoral adviser’s yorzeit. Funny how his death seemed like a sign at the time. And now I am asking myself the opposite […]

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  13. […] the third anniversary of my doctoral advisor’s death. That’s probably the memory that will stick me with from the third night of Chanukkah for the […]

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  14. […] from 1995. I’m attending a conference with my doctoral advisor, after a year in Germany, and suddenly the books of a scholar whom I’d respected deeply were […]

    Like

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