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The adventures of Don Chaim Abulafia and his servant, Mushon

A comic by

Yoel Shalom Perez

(Please follow from right to left)

 

copyrights: Yoel Perez

 

 

 

 

 

The heroes of the story:

Don Chaim Abukafia

Brave, fearless hero / A champion at the chess game / Always ready for every task / No one can frighten him / He is not afraid to jump into fire / And climb mountains / One thing only makes him afraid: / Dipping into cold water!

 

 

And this is his servant Mushon / Full of life, with a sharp tongue / He is fond of songs and poetry / He likes drinking beer / When he is full of wine / He plays the guitar!

 

 

 

 

The year is 1502. In the city of Venice, in Italy, in the Jewish quarter lives the Abulafia family, that arrived here 10 years ago in the great expulsion from Spain.

The father: Chaim my son, I would like you to take up the task an important and dangerous mission: to go to Toledo in Spain and from there bring of our familys treasure.

Chaim: Yes, my father lord. Ill readily fulfill his request!*

 

Note: It is a custom to turn to the father of the family in third person as a sign of honor.

 

 

 

The father: I wish you, my son, Caminos de leche i miel*

Note: Ways of milk and honey a Jewish-Spanish idiom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Right:

The Captain: If I had room, I would willingly take you on my ship

Mushon: If my mother-in-law turns up to be my mother, another rooster will sing to us!* Ill tell my lord, Don Abulafia that there is no place.

 

Note: A Jewish-Spanish proverb.

 

Left:

The Captain (thinking): Don Abu Mafia?!?

 

 

Right:

The Captain: Did you say Don Abu Mafia?* I think that nevertheless there will be place for you. Im also from Sicily.

Mushon: Well, lets hope for the best. De boca en boca troca!**

 

Note I: Mafia a Sicilian crime organization with a familial character, that begun in the fourteenth century.

Note II: A Jewish-Spanish proverb. From one mouth to another all mixed up.

 

Left:

Chaim: If this was not so urgent, I would not risk a marine voyage.

Mushon: My left eyebrow itches. It is a sign of troubles.* There will be a storm!

Note: A Jewish-Spanish belief.

 

 

Mushon: How beautiful are the forces of nature: The waves are growling like enormous wheels and clouds cover the face of the sea*

Chaim: Son of Adam, why are you sleeping! We are going to drown! Try to find planks!

Note: A citation from a poem by the Jewish Spanish poet, Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi.

 

 

Right:

Mushon: I have a proven remedy!

Chaim: Whats this Djocha (fool) doing? Did he go out of his mind?

 

Left:

Chaim: Thank God, the storm is over. What did you throw into the sea?

Mushon: The remainder of the afikomen (A piece of Matza), a proven remedy for calming the sea.

Whale: (thinks) What a nasty food. This bread seems to me a little bit dry!

 

 

Mushon: The sea is so quiet. Ill sit here and sing a romance and accompany myself with the sounds of my guitar.

Sailors: !?!

 

 

 

 

 

Sailor I: We will attack the captain and his deputy. All the rest will be a childs play.

Sailor II: Put an eye on Abu Mafia and his servant. I suspect that he has a weapon under his robe!

Mushon: (thinks) ?!?

 

 

Right:

Mushon: Ah what is that on the horizon?

Left:

Mushon: What courage to swim in the cold water my lord should take an example from them!

Sailor II: It is better to drown in the sea then fall in the hands of this mischief-maker!

 

 

Right:

Whale: At long last I received a juicy dish!

Left:

Ah! We arrived in peace to the shores of Spain. Up to now I have succeeded in keeping myself dry.

 

 

 

 

Right:

Chaim: In two or three days we will reach Toledo. Let us hope that there will be no rain. What a lovely and calm horse.

Horse: (thinks): What does he is ploting?

Donkey: (thinks): Why do they serve water only to the horse? I am also thirsty.

Left:

Chaim: Adio Santo!* What are you doing?!?

Horse: (thinks) I thought that in Spain they only baptize Jews by force.

Mushon: Cold water on the horses head a proven good luck charm for the road!

Note: Good Gracious!

 

 

 

Right:

Donkey (thinks): Lucky me that Im not a horse!

Left:

Horse: Hu-Ha Brrr Hi-hi-hi! Chrr Birrr Burrr!*

Mushon: It seems that the horse is not familiar with the custom.

Note: Curses in the horse-language

 

 

 

Right:

Chaim: Toledo mother city of Israel! How did it come to pass that all your sons were expelled to foreign shores?

Right:

Chaim: Here is the synagogue that my grand-grandfather built. Woe to the eye that sees such a thing!

 

 

Right:

Chaim: The entrance to the geniza (Hiding place for books in the synagogue) should be under the podium.

Left:

Chaim: Here is the treasure my grandfathers books of kabbala: The Honor Treasure and The Cedars Gate. We succeeded!

Mushon: It would be interesting to check what is hidden behind this door are there more books here?

 

 

Right:

Chaim: What is it, we are not alone!

Voices of converts: I admit that I did not came here to worship trees and stones but the God of Israel who rules all

Left:

Chaim: Who are you?

The leader of the converts: We are onverses.* Your face seems to be known to me. It is resembling the face of Don Shmuel Abulafia.

Note: Conversos = Forced Jewish converts in Spain.

 

 

 

Right:

Chaim: I am his son. What are you doing here?

Left:

The leader of the converts: We are celebrating a Bar Mitcva of a boy who just came to the age of completing a Minyan.* Come and join us.

Mushon: Let me play my guitar for the guest of honor.

Note: complete Minian= to complete 10 adults Jews in the prayer

 

 

Right:

The commander of the soldiers: What are these strange noises?

A soldier: These are probably marennos!* Go ahead, let us catch them!!

Note: Marennos means pigs. This is the nickname that was given to converted Jews by the Christians.

Left:

Mushon: In the guitar that we bought, a string had already snap (A fragment from a very known modern Israeli song).

Chaim: Enemies at the door! Save your souls, run away!!!

Guitar: Do-Re-Mi Boom!!*

Note: An old Jewish battle song.

 

 

 

Right:

Chaim: Dont despair, Mushon. The important point is that our brothers succeeded to run away.

Mushon: Lucky me that I found spare strings to my guitar!

Left:

The commander of the soldiers: My lord, we catch them while they were trying to protect some marennos.

Inquisitor: Your majesty, give them to the hands of the Holy Interrogation.*

King: you will have them if you win them in the game of kings (chess).

Mushon: I feel itching in my right ear. It is a sign of success.

Note: Holy Interrogation=Inquisition.

 

 

 

Right:

Chaim: We did not lose our hope.*

Mushon: My lord has two more steps. It is clear that he should intimidate with chess-mat on the king and the response of the inquisitor would be a move to C-5, but what next?

Inquisitor: (thinks): The king is in my hand!

King: (thinks): Over my dead body

Note: A fragment from the National Hymn of Israel by Naftali Herz Imber.

Left:

Chaim: Checkmate!

Mushon: As the Jewish poet, Eben Ezra said in his poem: And the pawn would go forehead three steps in his track.

King: (thinks) A brilliant move.*

Inquisitor: My blessing. You gained your life, but we will meet again in the future...

Note: In 1500 the laws of the game were different and the pawn could jump three steps in his first move.

 

 

 

 

 

A border guard: Stop, by the Kings command! What is your baggage?

Chaim: Books that were confiscated from the merannos in order to burn them on fire!

 

 

Right:

Chaim: Thank God, it ended well. Soon we will arrive at the border and there all will be arranged.

Leader of the converts: Blessed be He who shared His Wisdom with flesh and blood! (A traditional blessing to a wise man)

Left:

Chaim: I believe that from here you can manage without our help. We are going back to Venice.

Leader of the converts: Thank you, our brothers. We will mention you in our prayers.

 

 

 

Right:

Chaim: A storm is drawing near. We must find a shelter to keep the books from being soaked in water.

Left:

Mushon: Ill take the opportunity to have a look in this Cabala book

Chaim: Mushon, Mushon, the flood is rising! In God we trust! We are going to drown!

 

Right:

Mushon: A preyer of Moses, prophet of God. Grace, Justice and Glory (names of spheres of the Cabala), be our guard. Split Sea to dozen streams! Let the wind carry you, Lilith. Sammael (Satan) your force is over!*

Note: An old Cabalistic swearing-on for sea splitting.

Left:

Chaim: Fools luck! Djocha threw dices to left and found them on right!*

Note: A Jewish-Spanish proverb (Djocha is the popular fool in Jewish-Spanish folklore).

 

 

 

Right:

Chaim: My lord, my father, I fulfilled safely the mission that he imposed on me. Soon our brothers, whom I saved from the inquisition, will arrive here.

The father: God will bless you, my son, and impart His goodness on you. God will guard your going and coming and give you peace!

Left:

Chaim: Thank God, I succeeded to complete the task without being wet even one time. Ill smoke a little bit from this cigar that I brought from Spain.

Note: Columbus brought the tobacco from America some years before and it was still an innovation.

 

 

 

 

Right:

Mushon: (thinks) ???

Left:

Mushon: Help!!! My lord is burning!!

Note: END

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