The Messiah Dancers

I went to Hotham Street today to look for donkey droppings. There were none. Would the dancer/s be sad or discouraged?

There were two dancers this morning – Springheel Jack, closely shaven, waving his smiley face flag; and a shorter man, bearded, rounded, waving a Messiah flag. This man was aged perhaps fifty. I stopped and talked with them.

Blogberg: Good morning, gentlemen. Would you mind telling me about the older dancer who used to dance every day – the one with a white beard? I haven’t seen him for a while. Is he well?

Springheel – in ocker accents: Thank God, he’s very well. He’s staying home to look after his mother.

Blogberg: Golly, she must be old.

Springer: She’s older than he is.

Your blogger – Berg: Please excuse my curiosity – do you mind if I ask – why do you dance?

Springman: The Rebbe – you’ve heard of the Rebbe?

Berg: Certainly.

Dancer Jack: The Rebbe says it’s time to dance. The time of dancing is here. It’s time to be happy.

Berg: That’s why you have the smiley flag?

Jack, nodding: That’s why.

Berg: You do this for an hour a day, six days a week, you must be the fittest Lubavitcher in Melbourne.

Jack: Some days it’s only half an hour…

Berg, addressing the shorter, rounder, older man: Your flag reads ‘Moshiach.’ So you’re dancing to bring the Messiah?

Shortman, smiling benignly, speaking with a light Russian accent: Oh no, Moshiach arrived. We dance because of happiness.

Berg, diffidently, to Jack: You dance here in the mornings. How do you spend the rest of your time?

Jack: I care for my friend. Full time. Also my grandmother.

Berg, not short of chutzpah: What is your job? I mean does someone pay you? Do you eat?

Jack, unruffled: Thank God, I eat. No-one pays me. I dance and I care because it’s good.

Berg: You do it all, ‘lishma’ – for its own sake.

Jacko: Yes.

Berg, to Shortman: What about you? When you aren’t dancing?

Shortman: I am a dental prosthetist. I make dental appliances.

Berg: Well it’s been a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for talking to me. G’mar Tov (a seasonal benediction).

Both, cheerily: G’mar Tov.

Jogging home, chewing on food for thought, the image returned of the Messiah Man of Juneau, Alaska. A lean and straitened man, he stood in the grey of an autumn day in Alaska, unprotected from the thin rain, speaking aloud of Redemption. At his foot a placard advised: Jesus is Lord. Choose life eternal.

The man addressed the public at large bearing Good News in his thin voice. Actually it was a public at small: Your blogger was the entire public.

Blogger, Berg: Do you mind if I speak with you?

Messiah Man: Why?

Berg: I am interested. It looks like a hard thing, to stand in the rain and bring your message.

Silence from M Man.

Berg: I don’t want to disturb you. I mean no disrespect.

M Man: I am called.

Berg: How do you live? I mean, you aren’t soliciting funds…

Messiah Man: A few good people make contributions. And they don’t bother me as I do my work.

Berg: Please excuse me. I won’t trouble you further.

As the Rebbe of Bratislav said: Mitzvah ge’dolla li’h’yot be

simcha tamid. (It is a great and holy thing to be in joy perpetually.)

My impressions: it’s an easier gig working for the Messiah in a warm temperate clime than in Alaska: it’s easier to be happy in Melbourne.

Dancing for the Messiah

There’s a bloke in Hotham Street who dances to bring the Messiah. Tall, fair, the dancer elevates himself onto a pair of Pritorius springheel devices that boost him from his natural six foot four to about eight feet. That’s before he starts to dance. As he jigs his head bounces higher than the fence behind him. He bounces there for an hour or more at peak times, waving his large yellow Messiah flag, for the traffic to see and to know his good news. In advance of the coming.

In past times a Messiah Dancer here waved a flag that read: HONK FOR MOSHAICH. The honking brought an early start to the day of Hotham Street residents who preferred devoutly to sleep in.

The springheeled one dances alone nowadays. A year or two back he danced with two fellows, one a short guy with a brown beard, the second a wide man, not young, white of beard, his movements minimal of amplitude, his girth more than ample, waving his flagless hands at passing cars. Small children in cars called out “Merry Christmas Santa!”

Many were this dancer’s years upon the earth, but these past weeks he dances no more. With luck it will turn out to be a temporary disability like a sore ankle or a new great-grandchild that has taken him from the streets and from the bringing of the Messiah.

Equally possible is that Messiah arrived quietly – noted by the two retirers* but unknown still to Springheel Jack. Certainly it is noticeable that nation currently does not lift up sword against nation. But lions and lambs need checking before we should allow little children to lead them.

Over history Messiah followers have had their hopes raised in dark times only to see them dashed and the times darken. In Jewish tradition the Messiah will arrive on a donkey. So far no donkey sightings in peak traffic on Hotham Street.

Messiahs are of course sometimes secular: Melbourne supporters welcomed theirs last week in Paul Roos; Liberal stalwarts were redeemed a few days ago. Richmond and Collingwood supporters might as well gather around Springheel Jack and wave their own flags.



*’retirees’ is a term to be reserved for persons who retire against their will.