How did you read the title? Am I telling you I need a break in a questioning tone? Am I asking your advice on whether you think I need some well deserved time off?
I am asking a very rhetorical question, one with deep philosophical ramifications. Although rhetorical questions require no answer, I am going to use my right as author of this blog, to answer the question.
Before I do though, you need to know a piece of vital information.
Today I fractured 5 bones in my wrist.
Let’s back up. Last night I sat up planning my week with precision. I had very busy week planned, lots to do, and I would have to be super efficient if I wanted to get everything done. So with my agenda filled to the brim, I went to sleep, excitedly anticipating my week ahead.
This morning I rushed out to my weekly learning that I do with a very special woman, And afterwards I felt revved up for my day. At 10am I got into my car, and checked my agenda. I had some calls to make at home, but I thought that on my way passing by, I would just go passed the school and see the principle. I wanted to tell her that some kids were doing something that I never approved of, and I wanted to get to the bottom of it. I thought this was a perfect time to go and state my case. At that minute my daughter called from school, saying she was not feeling well. I reassured her that I was on my way, and I also confirmed to myself, that since she called me now – how more-so an opportune time it would be to point fingers at certain individuals. Don’t worry – I was not going to name names…I just was going to group a whole lot of people together….
I found the perfect parking. Even more validation. I walked up to the school, and then – as accidents always happen – out of the blue, I tripped. I broke my fall with my hand. As I landed, and felt the pain,I looked down and saw my wrist bone had taken 3 jumps to the right. I knew this was not good.
And in that same second, I asked myself why this happened. My mind flashed with my prior intentions. I admitted that I was on a witch-hunt. Not only had I just spent the last hour talking about ga’avah(arrogance and haughtiness)- and how to avoid the pitfalls of it; but now I was going to condemn a whole bunch of people whom I thought were behaving in a manner that I (me and my) deemed unfit. Perhaps I did have a right to not approve of their behaviour, but I realized in that split second that my accusatory finger should not have been wagging.
OK Hashem. I got it. The only thing that would stop me would be a broken hand. I was in too much pain to talk. There you go – no pointing fingers today.
A stranger rushed to my aid, shuffled me into the office at the school. My bewildered daughter looking terribly guilty that it was her fault that this happened, because she had called me to get her. And so many kind people, and hatzala, and Gitty….
Thank you…. Thank you Gitty for fearlessly getting me to emergency, for yelling at people to get out of the way, for parking illegally, for picking up my kids, for leaving work, just so you could escort me into good hands at the hospital. No names mentioned. Like a guardian angel – you should be blessed….
And then the news. As it turns out… a major break. A barton fracture, as i heard the ER doctor tell all the orthopaedic residents. They were all very excited. This was a rare fracture. I did not share their same enthusiasm. All I did was say the two tehillim I know off by heart – I am sure I know more, but only 2 came to mind…..I also did my teshuva… I knew what I had done wrong. Nothing like sitting in ER waiting to get anaesthetized, to put you in that contrite mode. I had also recently listened to a shiur on Nefesh Hachayim, by Rabbi Lapin, and he explains how physical ailments are the result of a blockage (sin) in the spiritual realm, and he explains how we can figure out and fix that blockage, via utilizing various methods of teshuva.
The staff were fantastic, I could not be more grateful for such attentive, caring people. And then, being sedated by a cocktail of something previously used to sedate horses, mixed in with a dollop of whatever Michael Jackson OD’d on. (Boy that stuff is good man)! I laughed a lot and spoke a lot while I was in my semi conscious state. But one thing I had was crystal clear clarity of my mind and of Hashem. Although I knew all the other people were in the room, and I felt them put my hand back into position, I knew that I was only in G-d’s hands. That is all that mattered.It was a very warm feeling. A very reassuring feeling.
After I came around, the ER doctor told me that he thinks he did a good job, but he is sure I ill need surgery and screws. I began davening my heart out. Telling Hashem that I got the message. That I have done my teshuva, please let me not need the surgery. I also said, though, that if I needed it well then so be it, but I begged for it not to be so. I know people were saying tehillim in montreal, Israel and NY…. Thank you all, and my little girls too….
And then… after the whole orthopaedic staff reviewed my new x-rays, I was told that I did NOT need the surgery! BH!!! The ER doctor and nurses were shocked! No-one could believe it – except me!
Thank you Hashem….
So – do I need a break? I guess so. I needed it to come closer to G-dliness, to realize my inadequacies and insufficiencies. I needed it to connect and see the good in so many people. I needed it to see how my family and friends rallied around me in my time of need.
And now, I have to go through the next few weeks a little inconvenienced, but constantly reminded of our amazing potential for spiritual growth.
( I took this pic from Annie rabinowitz blog)
So travel with 4 little kids is no picnic. But, here we are, at the other end of the world. What can I say… I am happy to be home. There is a calming soothing feel here. Maybe it is the fact that I am staring at the sea all the time. The continuous motion of the waves, the fascination people have with the sea. I watched all the surfers today. They are adults. Why do they get dressed in a wetsuit, buy a bakkie ( pick-up) to house their surfboards, and dive into the sea, only to spend the following two hours trying to pursue the perfect wave. Again and again. Dunked by the water. Up again – and back and forward with the ebb and flow of the tide.
I have watched my kids at the park, watched them at fun fairs, at waterslides. it’s the same thing. Again , and again. They will wait in line for 20 minutes, shivering, for that 30 seconds of careening down the water slide at 60km/h!
But why the fascination for adults? The sea. I concluded today, is like a woman. It is tempestuous, beautiful, alluring, secretive, loyal, deep, mysterious and unable to be controlled by man. I think that surfers feel like they have bridled the wild. Tamed a tiny part of mother nature, by being able to jump up and ride the wave as it crashes to the shore and turns from ferocity to a simple ripple, that splashes my 2yr olds toes and makes her squeal in delight.
One cannot help but adore the sea. Whether a sailor, a surfer, a swimmer, or a spectator. As I watched, I gained a deep sense of awe. Hashem created this ocean, with all its wonders. The mountains that surround it, the clouds that clung to the cliffs, like tufts of dandelions caught in the crags.
The beauty that was before me, astounded me. I could sit here watching for hours, and not get bored. How is that? There are no ads, no underlying plots. Same sea, same immoveable mountains.
It was a great backdrop for my davening. I could feel Hashem everywhere, and I feel like I have not felt that in a long time. In the sense that when you are faced with tremendous natural beauty, you cannot help but be in awe of its creator.
Also the red steps outside our little shul, in sleepy muizenberg, brought me to tears, and deepened my rosh Hashan kavana.
Why the red steps? Well this is such a South African thing. As I sat on them, and watched my kids play, in the same place that I played as a kid, those red steps struck a chord deep inside of me. These steps are part of my heritage. I have never seen this anywhere else in the world. It conjured up emotions of the african sun, warm on my skin, and sitting on the cool red cement steps. I could feel these steps all the way back into my past. They have been everywhere. I can’t recall where though. Probably old school buildings, where I did gymnastics and ballet. It is a very understated South African thing. I never really took notice of them, until today. Until I sat on them. And their 100 years of existence nudged me. I have history here. I feel life here. I feel.
I am rambling. Enough said. It is good to be home. Shana tova to everyone.
All good things must come to an end, but this is sweet sorrow, as we all know it is the beginning of something big.
IDF army base
I haven’ t gone into much detail about our girls. The Women who make up the Montreal group, but I have to say that each one is so special, and each one a REAL character!
We have all really become friends, and all work together very well as a team.
Today we went to an Army base. There is a really cool organization called ‘Thank Israeli Soldiers’, founded by Pamela and Abba Claman. It meant a lot to me, because I was there with them at the very begin inning. I remember 12 years ago, on Sukkoth, taking packages filled with food to the Israeli soldiers, on duty in the Arab shuk. I will never forget the look of surprise and gratitude, when these young, but already hardened soldiers, opened the bags, and saw what was inside. When we wished then Chag Sameach, almost all of them became teary eyed. They could not thanks enougeeh for thinking of them during the holidays. Even if they were not religious, they surely missed their families on the Chagim, and to know that other people made the effort to come and give them a yontif meal, meant the world to them. It was one of the most moving moments of my life. Pamela invited every single one of those soldiers back to her house for a meal that night or the next day. Many of them showed up after their shifts, and the Claman shabbos table became flecked with travelers experiencing shabbos for the first time, and a sprinkling of Israeli soldiers.
It has since grown I to a world wide organization, which brings Jews from all over the world to meet the soldiers, and thank them for what they are doing. Thanking them and showing recognition for defending this small fertile crescent, and preserving the well being of Jews everywhere.
So… On shabbos 3 rd meal was spent at the Claman’s, and we got to hear all about the organization, and also meet the young women and men who were serving the army. Today, we got to go to an army un it in order to give packages of appreciation to and entire unit, an anti terrorism combat unit.
Can you imagine a bunch of women standing in admiration as some 40 young soldiers gave us a presentation of their drills.
And as I have mentioned before, we do have a sexologist in our midst. And… Of course the unit did toss off their army fatigue shirt, and replace it with a T-shirt. And…Of course, the mommies had a field day with this. Giggles and snickers filled the air. Mommies were reduced to awkward school girls for a moment. And one mommy in particular was making a lot of wise cracks. Of course, it was our resident sexologist! We all had a good laugh, then matured a little and watched the dry drill.
We then presented the soldiers with packages and spoke to them a little. It was really touching, on both sides.
As I got onto the bus, someone told me that our Dr was shrieking in pain something bit her! I ran to her seat to find her face dripping with sweat, and in obvious agony.
Someone called a medic, and I helped her off the bus.
Without getting into too much detail, she a bee stung her on her upper thigh. Even in her angst and pain, she cracked up laughing. The irony, that she, the sex therapist would now have to undress in front of the medic of the unit she was just joking about!
Luckily she did not have to go there, the pain suddenly subdued ( nothing to do with the homeopathic stuff I gave her), and we boarded the bus.
The story of Massada happened 2000 yrs ago. Amazingly enough Our Great grandparents would not know the name Massada. It was part of a catholic trove of historical works, written by Josephus Falvius. Only 300yrs ago jews were allowed to emerge into the world, and stopped keeping Torah as much as in the past, and so the acts of being Jewish diminished. One of the ways of keeping their identities was thru history. Before this Jews did not learn history. Finally they began to study the works of Josephus.. In 1920 a poem of Massada arises and only in 1930s was the site discovered. Thank you Jonty Blackman for a very informative tour.
Blog day 4 kfar Yeladim
Blog Day 4 Yad Vashem
I had an incident happen to me. I needed to pee half way through the tour. I went to ask security wher the toilet was , and she directed me. I could not find it and looked around for a while. Soon after I felt a tap on my arm. An elderly woman stood before me. She had a walker, and in sign language and a very broken English, she said, “toyelette?”
I held my hands up in a shrug and said “I don’t know, what language do you speak?”
I have to say, I went cold. Here I was, half way through a tour of Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, my eyes still moist from crying for the passed 1/2 hour, from seeing the most graphic photographs, and hearing accounts from Ken Spiro. The thick energy that wafts between the cement angular walls, that create a sensation of helplessness, no way out, no hope, the world closing in on you. My whole mind and body was heavy with such charged emotion. And here before me, was a German woman.
Perhaps she was a German Jew, but intuition told me otherwise.
I told her I don’t speak German, and I walked away. A few minutes later, I found the bathroom.
Should I go and call her? My first thought was, ” did this woman point out a bathroom to my family during WWII? Did she stand idly by during the immense suffering of my people? Would she have cared if an old lady needed to relieve herself? Why should I care?”
In spite of myself I turned around and showed her where the bathroom was, and held the door open for her.
As I went into my stall, a wave of tears welled up inside of me, and I burst into tears. I got so angry with this old lady. All of a sudden she represented the whole of Nazi Germany. Why did you do this? Why? Why? How could you?
I breathed deep, and reason returned. Maybe she is Jewish. Maybe she helped hide Jews during the war, may she did nothing wrong!I went to wash my hands, and she hobbled out her cubicle slowly. She smiled at me. She told me it was her 80th birthday, and was on a tour with people from all over Germany. So I realized she was definitely not Jewish. And then she held my arm and left the bathroom.
I stood there feeling cold. The woman, and what she had or had not done , was really irrelevant. The emotion that I felt was raw. But I realised why we were such a great people. Because we care. We have the ability to forgive, and we always rise above. The Jewish nation was practically obliterated, and like the Phoenix that rose from the ashes, so did we. Stripped of all things material, and having endured the most torturous emotional and physical abuse, after having family members murdered brutally right before there eyes,and living with the stench of burning flesh for years, these people built an entire new life for themselves.
They got on with it. No blame, no complaints. We were not even victims. However, we will never forget. And in the spirit of the 6 million Jewish souls that perished, we have to live each day to the best of our ability.
Besides, I thought, here this woman was, giving testimony to a hellish point in history. Acknowledging. Remorseful, who knows, I can only hope she was.
Blog day 3
Blog day 3
I opened my eyes. Who the heck is that? Without my lenses, I cannot see a thing. Where am I? Why do I feel like I have been run over by a bus? Who is that woman, and how does she know my name?
The curtain opened. Along with the already brilliant light of the morning sun flooding in, my memory jolted back into reality.
“WOOOHOOO! I’m in Israel!”
I bolted out of bed, realising that I was the madricha, and would be responsible for getting everyone out of bed, eat breakfast, and be in a lecture by 8:15am!
( for those of you that know me…. The irony is rife. I am notorious for never being able to get the kids out of the house on time for school )
Oh, and by the way, I realised who the strange woman in my room was, no stranger at all, it was Ariella! And the two of us even had a few giggles, first thing in the morning. So out of character for me to be laughing first thing in the morning, especially on so little sleep.
We packed up and headed to the elevator. Thrilled and shocked to see everyone was already packed and out their rooms, suitcases in tow. Phew! I was let off the hook. This is the difference when traveling with MOMMIES as opposed to 20 something’s!
A quick breakfast followed by a riveting lecture by Ken Spiro, a world reknowned historian and speaker.
Back on the bus we headed to the Jordan river. We suited up with life jackets and headed to our rubber duckies. After the initial shock of feeling the pleasantly cold water immerse the bottom half of our bodies, we relaxed , soaked up some sun, and got to know one another a little more, as our kayaks cruised leisurely down the historical Jordan river.
And then it was off to Tsfat. We went on a small tour to 2 shuts, a Sepahrdi shul, and the shul of the Ari Hakadosh. Many of the women sat in Eliyahu’s chair. It is said, that if one sits in that chair, it is a segula for having a child. Many people, in fact one of the staff members here, had put it to the test, and only remembered 3 months after his baby was born, that he had sat in that chair 1 year before.
I also sat in that chair in July or August 2010. I did get pregnant in March 2012. I also miscarried,so not sure what that meant, will have to ask someone about that tomorrow!
We shopped, and then regrouped for dinner over looking the magnificent hills that surround Tsfat.
Our discussions at dinner are getting deeper, the more we get to know one another. It is hard to believe that we have only spent 36 hrs together.
Back onto the bus, for an arduous 3 hr journey to Yerushalyim. But, to all of our surprise,the journey turned into one of connecting with each other, of a tremendous flow of emotion, and a sense of sisterhood, as each woman got up, introduced herself and told us what this trip, and this journey ultimately meant to them.
We found familiarity in each other, recognizing the yearning for a greater life of purpose, and for all of us, the immense love we felt for Eretz Yisrael, was palpable.
Tears are supposed to open the gates of Mercy. Well, tonight, as we climbed our way to entrance of the city of Jerusalem, I am sure our tears entered the entrance of heaven. Each tear containing the heartfelt prayer of each one of us, each unique ands different. I am sure our prayers resounded in the heavens above.
We all felt it. The holy fire of Jerusalem.
of the city of Jeruslaem