People who sort of know me know I don’t go anywhere. There are no exceptions, but just when I was settling into a happy routine, praying quietly by the oil lamp each night, my recently married son insisted that we visit him and his wife for Shabbat. We had never even seen his apartment. They don’t live in the Negev; they live in Kiryat Sefer, a big haredicity near Modiin, Matisyahu,and Chashmonaim, you know, like in the Hanukah story.
Just thinking about it made me feel nervous: we had to lock the door, leave food and water for the cats and the dog, tack a note on the door: ‘no minyan this week!’, go on a bus I had never taken, and force myself to trust HaShem that I would have water, food, and a place to sleep.
About an hour before candle lighting, Shimi met us at the bus stop as promised, carried our bags, and navigated a winding way, upstairs and downstairs, to the guest apartment. It was huge, palatial even, with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, a hot water urn set up in the kitchen, an oil lamp set up on the porch, and newly made beds.
Around the corner, in Shimi’s small apartment, a table appeared with his wife’s home-baked whole wheat bread and home made salads, with fish and soup on a hot plate. Thus a whole Shabbat passed in sweetness, rest, love, prayer, and Torah. You may be thinking yeah, okay. Give me some conflict; give me a heart full of passion, jealousy and hate, or else where is the story?
I can’t give you conflict; there wasn’t any. I mean, some rabbis say Moshiach is here; the geula is here–so this must be it, right?
When it was all over, Shimi put us on the bus to the Negev.and then the cell phone rang: it was Aryeh. He wanted me to take a bus next day to his apartment in Jerusalem. Remember: I never go anywhere. He and his wife were leaving tomorrow for important stuff in Bucharest, of all places, and they needed me to watch all the kids from about a year old to about ten.
In fact I had never seen his apartment in Jerusalem, and now he was kind of forcing me. I mean, if I didn’t show up he might just decide to leave the kids to take care of things on their own.
And they’re very good kids, but still. So I packed up again and left my husband home to practice giving English lessons online to the Chinese kids in Beijing.
I had taken the Jerusalem bus before, but the light rail/rakevet to Pisgat Zeev loomed like a gaping abyss. Oh, and those machines where you buy a ticket before you get on. I had no idea how to use them. At the last moment an angel appeared to show me how to press the buttons and where to put the money. The train doors opened, and at last I knew how it feels to stand by the open hatch of a plane, clutching the string to my parachute. The crowd on the platform rushed for the door and pushed me. My eyes shut tight. The silent scream.
Then I looked around. An angel showed me where to insert my ticket. I sat down and reviewed my instructions and recited psalms. We passed one Jewish neighborhood after another, and suddenly we hit three stops in an Arab neighborhood called Shuafat. Hmm. Whose idea was this? Never mind; it was HaShem’s idea.
And then the target of my mission wheeled into view: Sayeret Duchifat! And there was the house! Ha! And the kids: angels and more angels. That is why I’m telling you the world has already changed. Look at all the bad things that could have been [chilila!]: rock throwing, terror attacks, kids fighting, a mess on the floor, nothing to eat, no place to sleep. And thank G-d not one of those bad things happened.
To top it all, two days later, the last half hour before it was time to go back on the train, the man I had divorced twenty years ago appeared with his [relatively] new wife and my formerly hated mother-in-law.
And where was the conflict? Every writer needs conflict. Where are the hearts filled with passion, jealousy and hate? How do we get amped and spiked up? Are we doomed to a world that’s all sweetness and light?
Yep. That’s what we got, kids, get used to it.
..hearts full of passion, jealousy and hate…”As Time Goes By”, music and words by Herman Hupfeld.