The Four Suns

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Tree Line
29 Mar 2007
Arts & Media

The sun shines with the same warmth on the gutters as it does on the palaces, just as it rains with the same force on the prisons as it does on the country clubs. However, don’t let nature’s deceptive, well, nature, fool you – though the elements may be the same, their subjects are definitely not, and while for some the sun might be a glowing cheek, for others it might be a parched throat.

The sun shines here, highlighting the green grasses swaying in the breeze and embracing the rainbow flowers jumping on their feathery beds. It sparkles on the clear stream – lava-like in its flow, as if it were a picture snapped with a slow-shutter lens – with the glint of polished crystal. If one were to look past the background and into the foreground, one would see a wise man walking upright, not slowly, not quickly, just at the pace of life, as if he were in unison with all that surrounds him. He is not unaware of his surroundings, just as he is not aware of them: for him, Life, Nature and Himself are all one, and therefore nothing to be aware or unaware of.

He is walking along the stream. He comes to a point where the stream is shallow in its depth and narrow in its width. He paddles through the ankle-deep water; the bottom of his robe gliding over the surface. On the other side, he walks away from the stream, his back to the water, his front heading for the cabin. In the distance, a tree line can be seen.

The sun shines here too, past the tree line. But, through the density of its deadened oaks and its darkened leaves, barely a ray can be found or felt. The forest is almost black in its pitch and blacker yet in its mood. Lightening-scorched limbs lie forgotten on the ground; their bodies decaying on the damp ground. Maggots and worms eat away at trunks that once stood straight and proud. But now, after all it has gone through, one could never guess that this shadowy nightmare was once a shady paradise.

If one were to squint their eyes and look through the cobwebs, one would see a stooped figure, drunkenly stumbling through the darkness. His long hair clamped together in a natural dreadlock and his thick lips bleeding and chapped in an unnatural snarl.

He walks – though it is more of a crawl – through the forest, oblivious to the sun’s warmth. For the first time in recent memory, he is heading toward the tree line and to the cabin beyond. On the horizon, a summit can be seen.

The sun shines here too, on the summit. But it is very bland. No vegetation grows here, not even wild mushrooms or untamed weeds. It is a summit in name and picture only; not in dreams. There is no aspiration here, no yearning for the beyond. The summit is where it begins and the summit is where it ends. The sun shines here, but the sun’s shining is like the shining of a polished shoe walking on a bed of diamonds – a shine that is dull in its attempt at sophistication.

If one were to blink back astonishment and ignore the dullness, one would see a simple man lying on the summit, his face turned to a heaven not very far away. In fact, the simpleton’s heaven is not much different than his earth – he’d rather have predictable boredom than unpredictable excitement. His logic: simplicity is bliss and hope is means to heartbreak.

If one were to continue watching, one would see the simpleton get off his back and start making his way down the summit, towards the cabin. In the distance, a waterline can be seen.

The sun shines here too, on the waterline. But the figure floating in the water wouldn’t know it. Its eyes are closed to the light and its face is immune to the warmth. Maybe it once knew how to ask for it, but not anymore. Sure, the light and warmth must linger beyond its closed eyes, just as the questions and thoughts must linger behind its closed mind, but, in its inertia, we are forced to call it a coma.

Suddenly it floats over to the waterline, and, dripping, gingerly walks – seemingly afraid that if it bends its knees too much they might snap – toward the cabin. In the distance, green grasses can be seen.

The four of them converge on the cabin – the wise man from the green grasses, the bitter man from the dark forest, the simpleton from the summit, and the “it” floating in the water. They are the Four Suns (or, should I say the Four Sons?) all coming from the same source, but all shining unto different places.

The cabin is home, the place where the Four Sons, no matter where they’ve been or where they’re going, always have refuge, at the table of their Father.

This is the Pesach Seder, children from all different backgrounds – be it the Wise, the Broken, the Simple or the Unknown – coming together at one Seder table – that of our Father in Heaven.

Mendel Jacobson is a 23-year-old writer, poet and journalist working for The Algemeiner Journal. Mendel’s education has found him in New York, Budapest and Jerusalem and he has been blogging for close to 3 years at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.