Thursday, April 22, 2010

OII #20- Buses Yet Again

Yet another OII happened to me today. I was on a busy bus, standing with my book bag on my shoulder and cellphone in other hand, while trying to cling to a bus pole so I wouldn't fall down. (That has happened to me on buses before)When I reached the busy Bar Ilan intersection, a woman with a baby in a stroller got on. Someone got up for her (which is nothing new, but still very nice), and she sat down as the bus continued on its way.

I then felt a tap on my shoulder. Someone behind me was waving a bus ticket in my face. "L'vir et zeh l'nahag. Paam Achat." I didn't understand the rapidly mumbled Hebrew, so I asked him to repeat himself. "Pass this up to the bus driver. One time (punch)." I looked in front of me- but there was no way I was getting through the mass of humanity in front of me just to get a punch for this man. I looked back, and he pointed to the woman with the baby. "Rak L'vir et zeh." "Just pass it on." And so I did.

Her nearly full bus card was passed from passenger to passenger, duly punched by the driver, and handed safely back to the mom.

I guess I can't imagine this happening anywhere else but Israel.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron, Yom HaAtzmaut

This is my first year being in Israel as an Olah, and as such, these 'national' holidays somehow take on more significance. I had a draft on Yom HaShoah, but as it has gone by, and we are on to the next national holiday, I figured my thoughts could go all together.

Yom HaShoah per say is one of those holidays that the religious public and the secular tend to disagree on. Rabbis have ruled that mourning is not such a good thing during the time of Nissan, and as such, we should have mourning for those victims of the Holocaust during other days set aside for mourning already, like the 10th of Tevet, and Tisha B'Av. There are Kinos and other liturgies written specifically commemorating those Kedoshim to be said on those days.

None the less, I still had something very positive to say on Yom HaShoah. In my workplace, they
had a gathering for all the students and employees, and presented a presentation on the Holocaust and its victims. Now, usually, these presentations take on a very secular perspective, as that is what resonates with most- not the religious stories most who live in the charedi world grow up hearing.

But the one thing that really did resonate with me was that despite being in an entirely secular environment, the first thing they did after the siren and moments of silence, was to read a Yizkor memorial prayer, commemorating those who died Al Kiddush Hashem, and to hope that their neshamos have an aliyah.

Now, that was something special that I noticed- an entirely secular group of people, recognizing that those who died because they were Jews died Al Kiddush Hashem- they actually mentioned G-d. And G-d in the Jewish sense- unlike many American gatherings where other religions might play a role, or no religion at all. Many Holocaust gatherings in America stress the genocide aspect, the killing of many different people, such as gypsies or the handicapped. Very few secular gatherings in America take any time to mention G-d at all, or that the souls of these people have not died in vain, for we remember them, and say a prayer for their memory.

When I came home, and remarked as such to Mr. NMF- he reminded me that the Teshuva movement in Israel is always growing. He believes it is much more prevalent than it was in times gone by.

As for Yom HaZikaron, another sad day here in Israel- I actually did not have a memorial service to attend, but most of my workplace did. I looked up how Yom HaZikaron started, and I found out that originally, the politicians (typically Jewish) couldn't agree on a date, so they lumped it together with Yom HaAtzmaut- which was hard for the people actually mourning to concentrate on the happiness of Independence. So, they moved it to one day earlier, the reason being to remind us all what the cost of independence truly is. Somber thought, but something worth remembering.

And today? I'm celebrating the independence day by being off from work, and enjoying the day with my daughter. That's true independence for me.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Shidduchim: A Kapara For Klal

At a recent simcha, I came across a lovely woman, with several children, who is moving back to America after her recent sojourn in Israel since she got married. We schmoozed, and eventually played Jewish geography. People from my hometown came up, including a certain woman who is still looking for her shidduch. She is a wonderful person, sweet, smart, charming, kind; in short, all the good qualities one would look for in a shidduch. Yet she hasn't met her match yet. The woman across from me remarked, "Maybe it’s a Kapara (atonement) for Klal Yisroel (the Jewish people)."

I was a bit taken aback by this statement. Then the woman next to me commented that she believes that there are two types of older singles out there. There are those who are being reasonably too picky, as they might be looking for something they can't get, or is exceedingly hard to get. The other, simply, hasn't met the right one yet. And those are, in her words, a Kapara for the entire Jewish nation.

Again, my brain started working overtime. You mean to tell me that there are women and men out there in this world who are waiting to meet their match, through no fault of their own, but as a general atonement for the world?

It came as a sort of shock to me, so I headed home to ask Mr. NMF about it. He remarked that he doesn't know too much about it- as atonement, as a general rule, is Kabbalistic in nature. But, one thing he does know, is that a person doesn't go through suffering only for the nation as a whole, but also for themselves- for some trait/action of their own. In addition, he threw in the Gemara that states that the death of the righteous (not to compare the lack of a shidduch to death of course, just for comparison's sake) does atone. Therefore, one person does have the capability to atone for the Klal.

So what do you think? Are there those out there who are waiting for their match due to a Divine decree, not specifically against them, but for the nation as a whole?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pesach Part 2

Life seems to be flying ahead of me so fast that I have at least 10 blog posts just waiting to be put up.

Here's the second Pesach part that I meant to put up earlier.

Pesach brings with it many things, mostly the domains of families. Many take trips, head out to wild, exotic places, just to see the sites and report back. Children in these families take great pride in reporting where they just came from, what they saw, and what they did. They brag about their latest exploits to their neighbors, friends, and classmates- and woe to those children who didn't do anything at all.

This past Pesach, the neighbor of mine who has 7 children delivered her eighth, a boy. And so, I and Mr. NMF volunteered to take the young ones on a trip to the zoo. Nothing major, but anything with 7 children becomes something major, of course. An enjoyable time was had by all, viewing the elephants and the vultures, just waiting to swoop down on my unsuspecting NBD, who laughed the whole time.

But the best part was, that now they had something to 'talk' about- that they did something on Chol HaMoed.

Compare that to my new neighbor, who also has 7 children, and is also a Ganenet. (I seem to attract these type of families as neighbors.) She confided in me that for her family, a Chol HaMoed activity is spending time with everyone- just hanging out together, small art projects, new games at home, or heading to a large park or picnic with extended family. In a way, I like this style some what better- as it promotes values that one doesn't really need to do something flashy or overdone in order to have a wonderful lasting time, that makes for good memories.

Either way, Chol Hamoed becomes the time to spend time with family. I hope all succeeded in doing that this Pesach.