Samson in Jerusalem

Samson In Jerusalem 

Often, life is filled with dichotomies. Our desire for peace can conflict with our fears for security; our longing to reach spiritual heights can conflict with our enjoyment of physical pleasures, and our desire to see a play can conflict with our wish to go to bed early.

These paradoxes are encapsulated in Samson, the Biblical figure who alternates between making love and war with the Philistines, between a life of spirituality, symbolized by his uncut hair and abstention from wine, and hedonism, as evidenced by his dalliances with Delilah.

Zeev Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism, wrote a novel about Samson, in Russian. Mikro Theater, a Jerusalem company housed in the Jerusalem Theater, turned that novel into a play, performed in Hebrew, with Russian super-titles.

I did not read the book, so it’s hard for me to know how closely the play kept to Jabotinsky’s original novel.  What I do know is this:  the  play was well acted, tightly staged, and finely scripted.

Its Samson is complex, torn between his identity as a member of the tribe of Dan, and his sense of belonging to Philistine society, and caught up in a family with rather unhealthy power dynamics. I don’t want to give away the “twist” at the end, but suffice it to say that the play frames much of the political conflict surrounding Samson as a result of personal heartbreak, which haunts quite a few of the characters.

All in all, the play was extremely entertaining, a thought -provoking way to spend a Saturday night.

Later this week, I’m excited for the Mishteh, a literary-culinary festival at Mishkenot Sha’ananim that starts on May 16. I’ll let you know how it is!

Wishing you all a great week ahead, with no political struggles and very little heartbreak.