Yesterday, the 25th of Shvat, I went on many different websites expecting to find coverage of Yair Stern’s 71st memorial. I was saddened to find that it wasn’t mentioned on any site – all were busy covering the induction of the new Knesset members. While the present and future are important, it is vital not to forget our past. On the advice of a Facebook friend, I contacted Israel National News (INN) and they asked me to write an op-ed. Click here to read. Feel free to share and post comments on the INN site.
As usual, Purim this year was ushered in with firecrackers, cherry bombs and larger, more powerful fireworks. They were noisy, loud and … they took me back to Gush Katif. At night, lying in bed and hearing the booms, I sleepily wondered whether it was mortars causing the windows to rattle. Mortars – shouldn’t that be Neve Dekalim, I wondered. And if so, then shouldn’t my bedroom window be on this wall? But there was no crackling announcement after the booms, so I concluded that they weren’t mortars. Wait! I’m in Nitzan, I realized. Perhaps it’s Kassams. But there were no sirens. Then again, maybe the loudspeaker system just wasn’t working. Thankfully, a few scattered picas infiltrated the sudden silence. Just children playing, I realized, and returned to sleep.
Yesterday I had just gotten to the bus stop on the main road when I spotted a big, brown dog. To be more accurate, it spotted me and came over wagging its tail, sniffing me and everyone else at the stop. I noticed it had on a choke collar. How terrible, I thought. Some family must have tired of the dog, and just dumped it here. And it was such a friendly creature. To think humans could be so cruel!
The dog decided, like the famous chicken, to cross the street. I shut my eyes in horror. Horns beeped furiously, and the dog swerved this way and that, but couldn’t seem to figure out that it should return to the stop. It wasn’t hit yet, and a soldier and I waved our hands at it and called. Such a stupid creature! It must have never been loose before. It took it ages before it figured out it should return to us. Once it did, I tried to tie it up with a piece of rope I found, but it wouldn’t let me. Then I decided I should make sure it has water. So, spotting a cup, I was going to pick it up and pour water in it, when the dog realized I wanted the cup, and decided to beat me to it. It grabbed the cup and ran around with it, crushing it in its mouth. Oh, dear. And soon my bus would come and I’d have to leave it behind.
Suddenly a man approached whistling. The dog took one look at him and started barking. This was surprising. Upon questioning the fellow, it turned out the dog belonged to his aunt. Well, the dog had no intention of letting the man get him. For whatever reason he really didn’t like him. I don’t know why – the dog was well-fed, and didn’t show signs of beatings. And if he wasn’t returned home he would starve or be run over. So I caught the dog, and then the man was able to grab him (the dog registering protest), and I slipped a rope on it (the man hadn’t brought a leash).
As they headed off the dog was still upset. But once they entered the orchard the dog cheered up.
And I boarded my bus with a feeling of relief.
And so another Rabin Memorial Day has passed. My problem with these RMDs is the way they’ve been twisted. Instead of being about Rabin – the Man (and then you could talk about the long stretch of his life, the pros and cons, what you admire and what you disapprove of), they are about Rabin – the Peace Process, or about Rabin – the Murder. Any ceremony that talks about the Peace Process is bound to be held by fanatic Leftists who won’t let anything change their world view, and won’t let anyone say something against it. You must be careful, for the ground which they step is holy and the people of whom they speak are angels. And if you are a stranger in their midst you must declare yourself: are you for them or against?
A memorial talking about the murder is the more common. These memorials stress how terrible the act of murder is; how deeply we deplore it, and how we are one people and should be unified. I don’t like these memorials because I don’t feel the need to announce that I’m against murder, or a specific murder that was committed 16 years ago. I had nothing to do with it, nor did the National Religious camp in general (much as some disliked the PM), nor have I any plans of committing murder. Or robbery, or breaking and entering, or drugs.
As for unity, while I identify with my nation in general, I don’t like to sing hymns to unity. I like differences, and I like people having their own uniqueness. It shows individuality, freedom of thought and action, and it makes life more interesting. And after all, it is very difficult to answer the question: what are we all supposed to unite around? I mean, for a successful unity, we’d all have to agree on that. I don’t quite see that happening. But I don’t think that’s bad. G-d didn’t like the Tower of Babel and they were wonderfully united.
Noah was a man Who Got The Job Done. Not only that, but he Didn’t Ask Questions. If this were in Ankh Morpork, Sam Vimes would have approved. The question is, do we approve? And did our commentators approve? It seems that they didn’t really. They would have preferred it if he had spoken up for his wicked neighbors and argued with G-d a bit. Avraham did, they all say, and seem to think that clenches the argument. But does it? And was Avraham in the right when he supposedly wanted to save the Very Wicked Cities of S’dom and Amorrah?
I always thought it was possible, perhaps probable, that Avraham wasn’t seeking to save those places, but merely trying to understand the way G-d thought and worked. Wait, so let me understand this, if there are a lot of good guys there, you’re still going to kill everyone? Oh. But what if there aren’t a LOT of good guys, but only a little bit of good guys – do you still kill everyone (including the good guys)? Once Avraham understood the way God worked he never ‘argued’ again – not even when G-d had him take his son to sacrifice. Noah, obviously, just wasn’t a metaphysical sort of guy.
But he did know about Symbols. He understood the rainbow all right. And he knew to sacrifice to G-d after they all stepped on dry land again. And where would we be if he hadn’t given us the dove? And the olive branch?
The four Succot species are very different from one another.
The lulav is strong and straight; the type that will break in a fierce wind. Which is, perhaps, why it grows in the very center of the palm tree, protected by many fronds. If you don’t know the correct art for taking it, you will kill off the tree’s growth.
The etrog is completely different in shape. Yellow, round and sweet smelling, this is a citrus fruit; the ‘off-spring’ of the tree, and not just another branch. It is also a feast for the taste; if you know how, after Succot you can turn it into jam or preserves.
Aravot are supple willow branches. Since they bow to the wind, they’ll weather any storm – but they certainly haven’t the dignity of the palm tree…. Also, they have their own weakness: they need a close by water source.
Last is the hadas (myrtle). It has a lovely fragrance, but does not have a good taste. These branches aren’t from a tree but rather from a bush, generally grown as a hedge.
It is only by combining these four different plants – three varied shades of green and one yellow, some with scent and flavor and some without, some straight and others round or supple, etc – that the Succot set is complete. Unity is created by variety, and the same is true for people as well. Therefore, aren’t we glad it only comes once a year?
Succot is when we put our trust in G-d. We go out to a small flimsy dwelling that we constructed ourselves, and we eat and sleep there for seven days. G-d who looked over us for 40 years in the desert can surely look after us as we observe His commandment. But will He look after us when we disregard His commandments? When we decide not to protect ourselves according to common sense? When we plan on releasing 500 Arab terrorists for one Jew?
G-d could punish us by letting the obvious conclusion of our actions occur. Or, He could decide to protect us. Not because we deserve it – but because we represent His name. And for the merits of the Ushpizin whom we will honor in our Succahs…
It’s that time of year. The days are getting cooler, and the warm shafts of sun really feel good. The nights are cold, and I know that I’m keeping my fan on only because I’ve gotten used to the noise it makes – and not because I really need it. In our garden yesterday I saw a toad hopping about, and on the wall I spotted a tiny baby lizard. He was really cute and I caught it gently. I cupped its nearly transparent body in my palms very carefully so that it wouldn’t get scared and drop its tail. After showing it to my father, I returned it to the house wall.
Yes. It’s that time of year. This indecisive weather has my nose running, and my sinuses aching. I’m already thinking about my sweaters, though perhaps it is a bit too early for that. And though I know this Shabbat is actually Yom Kippur, I’ve been busy cooking. I made a real good chocolate cake, and a wonderful apple Bundt cake. I just love tipping it over and seeing the mold the Bundt pan has created. Such fun!
But now my thoughts are turning to soup. How does vegetable soup sound to you, with couscous on the side? Lovely.
One of the nicest things about the approaching New Year, is receiving cards from family, friends and different well-wishers. In today’s digital age, most of those cards are via email or Facebook and it’s become rare to actually receive a printed card. As for a handmade card? That would indeed be something to treasure…
Whatever the form, it’s delightful to get those beautiful cards to your inbox. Some are expected, but others are a bit of a surprise. So I’m on their mailing list? How fun! is your first reaction. Your second reaction is to read the card and see if it’s original or a rephrasing of the usual blessings for the New Year.
While everyone wishes for health and happiness there are those who manage to phrase it without rehashing clichés. Some use rhymes, others prefer metaphors but both are aiming to get you to really read what they’re writing, and not just briefly scan it; assuming it to be the same old usual blessing.
Well, here’s a lovely new Irish one I learned today: “May God grant you always…A sunbeam to warm you, a moonbeam to charm you, a sheltering Angel so nothing can harm you. Laughter to cheer you. Faithful friends near you. And whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you.”
My father and I went to Ashkelon today and spent a fun afternoon.
After stopping at the bank and the pharmacy, we went to a hardware store. On the screen above the front door I could see my image from the security camera. Try as I might, though, I couldn’t find the camera. Finally, I asked the shopkeeper. “It’s by the electric tea kettle,” he said. I looked over there, expecting to see a big black camera, the type with which movies are shot. I didn’t see a thing. I looked at the shelf beneath. At the shelf above. Nothing. “Maybe I shouldn’t know where it is…” I confessed my ignorance with a smile. Amused by my bewilderment, he moved from behind the counter and stretched out his hand – and suddenly I saw the thin black wire running to a tiny little black circle. The camera. Of course; today everything is so neat and compact.
Then we decided on getting sunglasses. My father got two pairs from the 10 shekel stand, and I picked out a pair from the 20 shekel stand. We both decided against a tinted pair of sunglasses. It wasn’t only the price that was great, but the fact that I found sunglasses that fit my face; so often they are simply too huge for me. Especially the latest fashion of oversized sunglasses which just swallows my face up and makes me appear to be some new type of insect.
After all the shopping it seemed that getting something to eat was in order. We went to the mall and up the escalator, avoiding the kids who were clambering d-o-w-n the escalator. Where are their parents? I wondered out loud. We reached the eatery only to discover that half of them were being fixed. We didn’t want to eat at the ones that were open, so decided to leave. Easier said than done. That mall doesn’t have an escalator down. The steps were blocked and only open to workers. That left the elevator – which had a long line waiting in front. I dug my heels in there, while my father lost his patience and decided to find an alternative way down. In the end we both reached bottom at about the same time; I used the elevator, and my father found an open staircase. Had we been too hasty judging those kids?
Finally – home. Time to feed the dogs, to prepare dinner, and to cut the tag from my new sunglasses…