Sea, or: Sky

Today marks the Jewish holiday of Purim, one major theme of which is the Hebrew phrase ‘nahafokh hu’ (נַהֲפוֹךְ הוּא), which, loosely translated, means ‘it was turned to the contrary’. This comes to us from a particular verse in the Book of Esther (9:1):

וּבִשְׁנֵים עָשָׂר חֹדֶשׁ הוּא-חֹדֶשׁ אֲדָר, בִּשְׁלוֹשָׁה עָשָׂר יוֹם בּוֹ, אֲשֶׁר הִגִּיעַ דְּבַר-הַמֶּלֶךְ וְדָתוֹ, לְהֵעָשׂוֹת: בַּיּוֹם, אֲשֶׁר שִׂבְּרוּ אֹיְבֵי הַיְּהוּדִים לִשְׁלוֹט בָּהֶם, וְנַהֲפוֹךְ הוּא, אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁלְטוּ הַיְּהוּדִים הֵמָּה בְּשֹׂנְאֵיהֶם. Now in the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have rule over them; whereas it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them;

In short, the Persian king’s advisor Haman (the villain of the story) convinced him to establish a date (the 13th of Adar), upon which all who so wished could kill Jews with impunity, and the Jews would not be allowed to defend themselves.

Without getting into the story, suffice it to say that the king’s decree could not be repealed, for it had been issued with his seal. Rather, the decree was reversed such that the Jews would be allowed to defend themselves against their enemies, as we read on in the following verse in the Book of Esther (9:2):

נִקְהֲלוּ הַיְּהוּדִים בְּעָרֵיהֶם, בְּכָל-מְדִינוֹת הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ, לִשְׁלֹחַ יָד, בִּמְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתָם; וְאִישׁ לֹא-עָמַד לִפְנֵיהֶם, כִּי-נָפַל פַּחְדָּם עַל-כָּל-הָעַמִּים. the Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt; and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them was fallen upon all the peoples.

Now, ‘nahafokh hu’ is somewhat more precisely translated: ‘it was turned over’, and Purim has come to be the topsy-turvy Jewish holiday of reversals, in which everything is not what it seems, but rather its opposite. Purim represents the impossible becoming miraculously possible.


The Jerusalem winter skies

In Israel, the winter season is rainy, and the Jerusalem skies fill with clouds, which, in turn, produce some majestic sunsets.

Several weeks ago, my six-year-old and I were returning home from the store in the early evening and Jerusalem’s creamy clouds caught our attention. Not much for photography, I nonetheless put down the groceries and pulled out my smartphone to capture the moment.

The most fantastic aspect of those particular clouds in that particular sunset for me was what they looked like upside down. With a bit of fiddling in Microsoft Paint, I managed to flip the photograph upside down and zoom in on the clouds between the building and lamp post. To my eye, the picture looked just like the setting sun reflecting off of a foamy sea.

sun sparkles on clouds
sea foam glistens overhead
one need only see

d’Verse

Middles & Turns

The d’Verse prompt was to look to our [poems’] middles and see if we can build in dramatic turns, open a new window, pick a sonnet or a haiku, write in blank verse or pentameter, just show us your best turns.

72 thoughts on “Sea, or: Sky”

  1. how beautiful and faith-ful, non-scepti, David  🙂 am having problems accessing my wordpress account at the moment, so I am grateful for an old error of mine – asking posts I follow to be emailed to me. Curiously, this year at least Purim seems to coincide with what a local astrologer (secular Jewish) calls the snow moon – associated with miraculous healing and such like.Happy Purim and Shabbat Shalom.

    Kind regards,

    Barbara Schaefer MA, Director

    Beacon Social Care Ltd

    38 Northgate

    Business Centre

    Newark

    NG24 1EZ

    resident – see Electoral Roll NG24

    phone nr – available on request

  2. “One need only see” is a good lesson for all the time. I take lots of reflection photos, and I’m fascinated by the upside down world seen in them.
    I’m going to have to remember “it was turned to the contrary.” Thank you. I baked lots of Hamentaschen, and drank a toast to Esther and booed Haman. 😀

  3. I really like how you illustrated the idea behind “Purim represents the impossible becoming miraculously possible” with flipping the photo. A wonderful switch in perspective. Indeed, the sky can become the sea. Change is possible.

  4. Purim is one of the happier events for the Jewish people like turning over the sands in the hourglass! And this time of year when winter is being overturned your sky looks to be celebrating too ~ Chag Purim Sameach

  5. I love both photos, your adjustment makes it look completely different … such an unusual celebration!

    When I first read your villians name I immediately remembered the Hindu god Hanuman … similar sound and spelling but obviously very different characters 🙂

  6. chag Purim sameach!
    I remember reading that story in the Bible too. It’s such an interesting idea behind the celebration. Lovely photo, and poem!
    I should try turning photos upside down to see how they change!😂

    1. Thanks so much, D. ❤

      You know, my Papa once shared a book with me called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

      And one of the ideas was to try turning things upside down in order to draw them – so that we wouldn't be limited by what we think those things should look like… and instead we would draw just the lines themselves, which don’t necessarily represent any preconceived images that we have in our minds.

      Yours,
      David

    1. Emine,

      Yes! And I’m neither an artist, nor a photographer of any sort… but these particular clouds and particular sunset just leaped out of the sky at me. I had to take the photo – I would have regretted it forever if I hadn’t!

      Thank you ❤
      David

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