We arrived safely in Israel. Our connections worked; our driver was able to find us, even without cell phones (okay, we used airport free WIFI to make sure they knew where we’d be, but it was with a third party—a lot of smart people don’t have smartphones); we managed to climb into bed and sleep with windows open and fresh breezes off the mountains. The next day, we got our phones working. Not a small thing–it took the guy at the store what felt like an hour to get the right things connected. When I had spoken to the company for over an hour in the morning, they claimed that my phone was not unlocked. No, maybe that was actually what they claimed to the guy for a while. But even with that, we have connection.
I guess that is the sub-title, or sub-text of this post; making connections possible. We have to have the tools working and that cannot be taken for granted. The work that comes afterwards is just that—work.
The connections were even more important than food. That, we know, is always easy to find here in Israel, thank G-d. We’re a little nervous that one of our favorite restaurants from last summer wasn’t open last night, but it looks like they switched their hours to meet the early bird tourists. We’re hoping. We’ll see.
Another miracle is the lack of war. Last year, we entered into the country in a state of shock with the capture (and then loss) of the three boys. Everyone was on very high alert. Now, post-Charlie Hebdo, post-Hyper-Casher, we are hyper-wary of outsiders perhaps more than last year. Latest UN invective against Israel, anyone? But here, in Israel, in Tzfat in particular, the reason that people are staring at their phones is not because they want or need to be smart but because they don’t have to.
So today, we could do our shopping. We could go to the special store that has opened here this year in Tzfat in honor of the Shmittah year. The Sabbatical year comes every seven years, clockwork. Israel, which is so good at being innovative, has been slow to come to effectively dealing with the prohibition of farming. If we are being smart (I guess that’s a second sub-text), then we should be figuring out how to keep the farmers working, how to make technology work for us, and how to reset the holiness of the Land for everyone with all their social problems, while we’re at it. The good news is that is now looking like it is beginning to work. The farmers who want to keep the Shmittah year holy can basically join a union that sells their produce as a unit. They all get paid equally; the produce is sold at a fixed price; they work together with the people of Israel. Beautiful. I won’t go into the annoyances of those who want to avoid the details of all this work by just not buying produce grown in Israel for the year. I should enter Shabbat without cruel words. (Just know I’m thinking them. Can’t. Stop.)
There was a song playing in the store as we were shopping, a popular version of Im Lo A’aleh Et Yerushalayim al Rosh Simchati. This is a song traditionally sung at a Jewish wedding right before the smashing of the glass, pretty much the climax of the wedding service. My eyes teared up right then and there, as I thought about how grateful I am to be able to be part of fulfilling this opportunity of being in the Land, living in the Land. Even thinking about it now brings another wave of teary emotion. It’s good to be sensitive. It’s really good.
Now, if we could only figure out how to turn on the hot water heater so we can get a hot shower before Shabbat, all will be wonderful.
This isn’t the version that I heard, but this is one that I could find.
Okay, here’s the post-script post-Shabbat. I wrote this Friday afternoon, but needed to wait to get back to WIFI to post it. We got the hot water to turn on after the landlady came by one hour before Shabbat. She had told us on the phone, “It’s the red button next to the timer.” When she came over, she admitted that she forgot that the last tenant had forgotten to turn off the old heater and it burned up. And then they needed to replace the system. And the new system didn’t have a red button. So we weren’t crazy. And so, with a few minutes before Shabbat, I had my hot shower, only to discover the reason for the funky smell in the bathroom. The shower drain was pretty clogged. All good; I knew to wear water shoes. Okay, the good news about that is we have someone checking it out now.
Baby steps. Making sure we pay attention to the miracles.