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26August 2019

Misken definition by Rabbi Yaacov Yisroel Bar-Chaiim


“One very common but profoundly misunderstood Hebrew word is Misken. It’s usually translated as Pitiful, Poor, Miserable, Pathetic …”

“The capacity to be a Misken, suffering from apparent failure in this world, is G-d’s gift; a secret weapon He’s planted within our souls for remaining loyal to Him no matter what the challenge. It’s that purely Jewish orientation of being both at odds with this world and transcending it. A proper translation must respectively imply both a lack and strength; a deficiency and asset. Is there any such word in the English language?

Well, how about this. The buzz word of the generation:


Personally, and the rabbi has obviously thought things through way way more than me, remaining loyal to the Almighty is a question in itself because what it is that we are being loyal to is a purely human conviction. I mean how do we know that the Almighty does not welcome challenge? For instance if I challenge the Almighty to be non-vengeful might He not recognize my point and try to change? I mean what Creator would make robots commanded to follow His program?

Anyway, miskenot, I think, is simply plural of misken.

And: Israel is a bit of a misken with nuclear weapons, that is in the rabbi’s sense of the word At-Risk. I know, I know, and India and Pakistan and USA and Russia, too.

And, to paraphrase McMurphy: I think I tried, I did that much. Or, I tried to think!

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