The second coming — as a fish

The Guardian reports that ‘an obscure Jewish sect in New York has been gripped in awe by what it believes to be a mystical visitation by a 20lb carp that was heard shouting in Hebrew, i n what many Jews worldwide are hailing as a modern miracle.’ … ‘According to two fish-cutters at the New Square Fish Market, the carp was about to be slaughtered and made into gefilte fish for Sabbath dinner when it sudden ly began shouting apocalyptic warnings in Hebrew.’

Date: Sun, 16 Mar 2003 10:14:20 +0000
From: “Dohrn List” (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: God reveals himself as a fish

Word is made flesh as God reveals himself… as a fish

Edward Helmore New York Sunday March 16, 2003 The Observer

An obscure Jewish sect in New York has been gripped in awe by what it believes to be a mystical visitation by a 20lb carp that was heard shouting in Hebrew, i n what many Jews worldwide are hailing as a modern miracle.

Many of the 7,000-member Skver sect of Hasidim in New Square, 30 miles north of

Manhattan, believe God has revealed himself in fish form. 

According to two fish-cutters at the New Square Fish Market, the carp was about

to be slaughtered and made into gefilte fish for Sabbath dinner when it sudden

ly began shouting apocalyptic warnings in Hebrew.

Many believe the carp was channelling the troubled soul of a revered community elder who recently died; others say it was God. The only witnesses to the mysti cal show were Zalmen Rosen, a 57-year-old Hasid with 11 children, and his co-wo rker, Luis Nivelo. They say that on 28 January at 4pm they were about to club t he carp on the head when it began yelling.

Nivelo, a Gentile who does not understand Hebrew, was so shocked at the sight o f a fish talking in any language that he fell over. He ran into the front of th e store screaming: ‘It’s the Devil! The Devil is here!’ Then the shop owner hea rd it shouting warnings and commands too.

‘It said “Tzaruch shemirah” and “Hasof bah”,’ he told the New York Times, ‘whic h essentially means that everyone needs to account for themselves because the e nd is near.’

The animated carp commanded Rosen to pray and study the Torah. Rosen tried to k ill the fish but injured himself. It was finally butchered by Nivelo and sold.

However, word spread far and wide and Nivelo complains he has been plagued by p hone calls from as far away as London and Israel. The story has since been ampl ified by repetition and some now believe the fish’s outburst was a warning abou t the dangers of the impending war in Iraq.

Some say they fear the born-again President Bush believes he is preparing the w orld for the Second Coming of Christ, and war in Iraq is just the opening salvo

in the battle of Armageddon. 

Local resident Abraham Spitz said: ‘Two men do not dream the same dream. It is very rare that God reminds people he exists in this modern world. But when he d oes, you cannot ignore it.’

Others in New Square discount the apocalyptic reading altogether and suggest th e notion of a talking fish is as fictional as Tony Soprano’s talking-fish dream

in an episode of The Sopranos . 

Stand-up comedians have already incorporated the carp into their comedy routine s at weddings. One gefilte company has considered changing it’s slogan to: ‘Our

fish speaks for itself.' 

Still, the shouting carp corresponds with the belief of some Hasidic sects that

righteous people can be reincarnated as fish. They say that Nivelo may have be

en selected because he is not Jewish, but a weary Nivelo told the New York Time s : ‘I wish I never said anything about it. I’m getting so many calls every day , I’ve stopped answering. Israel, London, Miami, Brooklyn. They all want to hea r about the talking fish.’

A devout Christian, he still thinks the carp was the Devil. ‘I don’t believe an y of this Jewish stuff. But I heard that fish talk.’

He’s grown tired of the whole thing. ‘It’s just a big headache for me,’ he adde

  1. ‘I pull my phone out of the wall at night. I don’t sleep and I’ve lost weigh

t.’

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

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