An interesting and maybe surprising moment in Elliot Wolfson’s recent A Dream Interpreted Within A Dream, it’s story related by Menachem Mendel Schneerson about a group of hasidim talking about the nullification (annihilation) (Hebrew: biytul) of self. A Russian officer calls out kto idyot, which in Russian means “Who goes?” But in Yiddish, idyot means what it means in English, namely idiot. The hasidim reply, “biytul idyot,” which can be taken to mean “nobody, idiot.”
So okay, maybe not the funniest joke ever. But I can’t recall offhand Elliot ever making a joke in print, and I’m sharing this particular piece because I thought Menachem Feuer at Home of Schlemiel Theory would like it for his archive. Elliot’s takeaway has to do with how in mysticism, how in what perhaps we can now call it dream-mysticism, “the stripping away of physicality is…an embodiment that is realized through the idiocy of the unfettered imagination, the psychic faculty that juxtaposed what apparently does not belong together..” (p.215).
About Elliot’s book, I’m going to post later, and, at some point though will have to sit down and sort out my thoughts in a longer, more careful sort of way. Thoroughly indebted, I come to these things relating to the imagination from the opposite side of the same coin as Elliot’s. But for now just this little bit, a joke which I found charming, and a little surprising.