Elul 7: Understand

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 18 August 2018 @ 8:36 pm

Courtesy: Shutterstock

Since I was a kid, whenever I hear the word understand, I immediately think of Antigone’s monologue from Jean Anouilh’s Antigone.

Understand! The first word I ever heard out of any of you was that word “understand.” Why didn’t I “understand” that I must not play with water – cold, black, beautiful flowing water – because I’d spill it on the palace tiles. Or with earth, because earth dirties a little girl’s frock. Why didn’t I “understand” that nice children don’t eat out of every dish at once; or give everything in their pockets to beggars; or run in the wind so fast that they fall down; or ask for a drink when they’re perspiring; or want to go swimming when it’s either too early or too late, merely because they happen to feel like swimming. Understand! I don’t want to understand. There’ll be time enough to understand when I’m old… If I ever *am* old. But not now.

(Anouilh, Antigone 24; act 1)

Don’t be impressed.

I wasn’t some classics wunderkind. This was the monologue delivered by Diana Scarwid when she first appears on screen as the adult “Christina Crawford” in the 1981 movie, Mommie Dearest. And it played on Showtime ALL. SUMMER. LONG. My friends and I watched and rewatched the docudrama about Joan Crawford. But beyond all of the more well-known scenes was the one of Scarwid reciting an abridged version of Antigone’s lines.


“There’ll be time enough to understand when I’m old…”

And when is that?
What age must we reach to be considered old?
When are we old enough to understand?

Are we there yet?


#BlogElul 2018

#BlogElul is a monthlong exploration of themes pertaining to the High Holy Days. Created by R’ Phyllis Sommer, the #BlogElul #ElulGram project allows participants to delve into topics as a way of preparing for the season.

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