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Thursday, September 28, 2017

"May You Be Written and Sealed for a Sweet New Year"

Here these sentiments are expressed in this curious Yiddish New Year's card from the early 1900s. The banner says," “Children! You are looking at the New Year star. May your luck shine just as bright and clear.” A shooting star passes through the frame of the window, bidding the viewers “a sweet year,” written on the star itself.

Is Virgo teaching the girls a lesson for the New Year while wishing them a sweet one?

When I first saw this card, sent by a friend, I though the shooting star was a comet. You can't watch shooting stars with a telescope. They are strictly naked eye phenomena. But of course, the depiction is of a falling star/shooting star, as seeing them brings luck and we are supposed to make a wish on them that will come true. Appropriate for a New Year's greeting card.

Then why a telescope? Perhaps to add a touch of scientific authenticity to an otherwise astrological theme. A closer inspection of the photo shows how little the artist knew about telescopes. Although there is an eyepiece inserted at the end for the children to look through, the eyepiece is at the wrong end of the tube. Telescopes taper from the lens at the top to the eyepiece at the bottom. That's because the lens is always bigger. You'll notice that our artist has placed the eyepiece at the fat end of the tube, where the objective lens is! This telescope doesn't work at all.

Although astrological in theme there are a number of curiosities. Who is the woman dressed in angelic garb with wings and festooned with flowers? Perhaps Virgo, HaBesulah in Hebrew. The sun moves from Leo into Virgo around the time of Rosh Hashannah and perhaps this is illustrating that astronomical/astrological event. Virgo is often depicted with wings and flowers as a Maiden.

Why are the children all girls? Perhaps Virgo is trying to teach them a lesson about chastity and modesty in the New Year. That might also explain the curiosity of all the children bring female.

In any case we wish one and all a Chasivah v'Chasimah Tovah. May you all be written for a sweet year and your wishes granted, whether you see a shooting star or not!

/Ira, The Starman of Mitzpe Ramon

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