Monday, March 27, 2006
and rushed right into the day;
I had so much to accomplish,
I didn't have time to pray.
Problems just tumbled about me
and heavier grew each task;
Why doesn't God help me, I wondered;
He answered, "You didn't ask."
I wanted to see joy and beauty,
but the day toiled on, gray and bleak;
I wondered why God didn't show me -
He said, "But you didn't seek."
I tried to come into God's presence;
I used all my keys at the lock;
God gently and lovingly chided,
"My child, you didn't knock."
I woke up early this morning
and paused before entering the day;
I had so much to accomplish
that I had to take time to pray.
By Grace L. Naessens
I have lately been reminded of this piece, hanging on a plaque in my home.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
ok wandering, i can post this now. i still don't think its postworthy, but at least its not 'fresh'. i dont feel so connected anymore. its not a chunk of my heart anymore. its almost not shayach to me bichlal. G-d knows what will be. (see post about G-d planning as soon as the sabra laughs) p.s. ill prob have to take it down as soon as the mum sees it.
How I Got To The Point in My Life Where I ‘Just Had To Make Aliyah'
I don’t know what ‘enhances one’s candidacy for aliyah services’, but I do know what I feel in my heart.
All my life, I imagined what Israel was like and would dream that one day I, too, would be granted the privilege of walking on its holy, history-drenched soil. A year and a half ago my dream was realized when I stepped off the plane in Ben Gurion airport. I was there to study in a seminary for the year but really, really I was there to spend a year of spending and saving, yelling and telling, touring and exploring, tasting and wasting and LIVING in my land. Yes, Eretz Yisroel is the rightful inheritance of every single Jewish person; and thus the main thing was ‘simply’ to be here.
June came around all too soon, and off we all went. Never to be seen again. Well, not quite. I missed Israel so much, missed the warmth and genuineness of the natives, missed the courage and tenaciousness of the 'settlers', missed the blunt yet kind and caring atmosphere in the buses, shops and waiting rooms, missed the feeling of 'belonging' and most of all, I missed the holiness of the land. I missed walking on the grounds that our forefathers walked on. And thus, I had to come back.
With the help of G-d, I was granted the opportunity to return after that summer, and I have been living here ever since. More than once a day, I mentally (and often verbally, as well) thank G-d for giving me this wonderful, almost unbelievable opportunity: to be living here in Jerusalem. My day consists mainly of volunteering in an outreach center in the Old City and learning Torah in Geula. But of course, every moment and action of my day, whether I am grocery shopping in the famous Machane Yehuda “shuk”, running to catch a bus from the Central Bus Station, admiring and taking pictures of soldiers, struggling to understand the Hebrew radio station or waiting on line in the bank, is so unique and reminds me how grateful I am to be living the ‘Israel life’.
Many people ask me how it is that I am 'not scared to live in Israel'. I don't understand the question. Is G-d found any less, as it were, in His Home and Capital than the rest of the world? The Torah states that Eretz Yisroel is a land on which "…. tamid einei hashem elokeicha bah, mei’reishis ha’shanah v'ad acharis ha’shanah" ("the eyes of Hashem are continuously on it, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year"). Furthermore, if my people are suffering so much here, in the land that G-d gave us as a gift and an inheritance, how can I sit contentedly across the world? By being here, I show the Jews here that I am with them, that I believe as they do and I support them every step of the way. There is nothing that brings me greater satisfaction than the smiles of relief and gratitude that appear on the faces of Jews living all over Israel, when they hear that there is no place in America I would choose over their yishuv or city: be it Chevron, Netanya, Bat Ayin,Tel Aviv or Metula. It is a tremendous mitzvah and zechut to be here.
Yet, all this time it's a bit of a contradiction; I live here but I am still an American citizen. All my family is back in the States, I'm struggling with the language and I'm not making any money! Thus, the next step is to make aliyah. I need to be grounded here; not one foot here and one foot there. I need to be stable so I can start a family here and be here forever. I need to know that I am in Israel for ‘good’.
Please help me live in the place where I know I belong.
Friday, March 24, 2006
hall, yknow which one
regret the regret
doing the right thing?
shomer n chayal
didnt steal ur bullets!
i wish you and the proc a life of happiness and success together and a peaceful, comfortable, progressive home built on the foundations of torah and chassidishkeit, with only revealed goodness all around! (now say amen)
the only feeling i have right now is happiness for you. forget all the 'waiting' phone calls. forget mine and esty's observations and feelings (perhaps cuz im so far away). all i feel is boundless joy for you. hatzlacha rabba in every step. i love you.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
And you tellin me that there are Jews who are close and Jews who are far?
Monday, March 20, 2006
a 5 and a 1.
ill give the one to tzedaka before mincha, and the five ill use for a yogurt. cant afford a 'bigger' lunch.
k so first ill buy the yogurt cuz im hungry.
wait, the world needs light more than i need that dairy calorie intake.
but if im so hungry, i wont be able to concentrate on my davening.
o cmon, who you foolin?
ok ok mincha first.
oh i bet therell be free food at the kotel or something, and ill end up saving money because i put hashem first.
go down to kotel. daven. finish.
no free food. no matter.
now time to buy the yogurt.
shucks all these ladies are asking me for tzedakah.
good thing i gave already, no guilty conscience.
i had six, and i gave one already. the five is for me, i need to eat lunch.
u guys get tzedaka from everyone coming here.
i need the money.
so why do i feel so funny?
and i got countless blessings from her as well as wishes for a refuah shleimah for everyone who needs it
finally i feel like a millionaire (shekelaire?)
The "fingernails" are part of man but virtually lifeless. Truth is necessary not only in the "vital" elements of man, his thoughts, emotions, relations with others, etc. but even in the all-but-redundant, the furthest extremities.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
and an annoyingly loud man behind me was talking to himself as well as the person next to him, repeating the same thing over and over and over and over again. it didn't even make sense, which made it all the more irritating.
and i was so hungry cuz didn't have time for breakfast.
and i had to daven and its hard to concentrate on a bus.
my nose was stuffed, difficult to breathe properly.
man standing near me and his stomach was bumping into my shoulder. not pleasant.
the bus took longer than usual, im gonna be late to work.
s and s are in chevron, on their way to maarat hamachpeila to daven shacharit, no fair.
and all the while, niv is on my mind.
baruch hashem its not me thats the fat one. and its only a 15 minute ride to work.
baruch hashem my sense of hearing is working 100% fine. and no one is getting annoyed by me.
baruch hashem its a rare occurence that i dont eat breakfast, and my stomach can complain. its not something that its gotten used to.
baruch hashem it bothers me that i cant concentrate like i should. i have a G-d and a Father that i care about and Cares about me.
baruch hashem i can still breathe through my mouth.
baruch hashem i had a seat. and no accidents happened or something drastic like that, just shoulder/stomach collisions.
baruch hashem i missed the first bus simply because i slept in because i was so tired from fribbing n laughing with my friends the night before.
baruch hashem i have the zechus to live in israel and i get to go to chevron quite often. its not a once-a-year-because-im-a-tourist opportunity.
baruch hashem i got the clarity in the end.
baruch hashem i was able to figure it out.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
And then one of us came along, and didn’t. Wash the dish, that is. Just left it there. Oh, not for eternity. We were gonna wash it, o yes we were. Just not right now. And what’s the big deal if I leave it in the sink for a couple hours anyhow? Hmm you’re right. What IS the big deal? So it was left there for the night. And then someone else saw it, and the fear of leaving dirty stuff around wasn’t so strong. And the lone dish in the sink found a companion. All of a sudden, the sureness wasn’t so sure. Soon, it dissipated entirely. Eventually, the apathy was so contagious and deadly, that no one would even realize anymore when they were struck with the disease. And then the sink was always full. Dirty dishes. Made the otherwise spotless and tidy kitchen look unkempt. Down-at-heel lady. We were too lazy. We were cold.
And so we called a meeting. And we said “Always remember that first lone dish. And erase it from your memory forever”.
Friday, March 10, 2006
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Friday, March 03, 2006
and sof sof
YES! Finally I can donate blood!! I felt better on my way out than on my way in.
My only anxiety now, lies in the fact that I am not certain that the blood I 'donated'* was not tainted blood.
Energetic blood, yes. Yet, created from excitement for something that may have displeased G-d.
Healthy blood, yes. Yet, merged with food items of a questionable Kashrut validity.
Pure blood, yes. Yet, created at a time of impure and improper thoughts.
I now have three months to work on my blood.
* I donated? MY blood? Everything is on loan from G-d!
Thursday, March 02, 2006
To the scores of students, thinkers, readers and lizards that have come here to this post on my blog via googlation ('the act of googling'), be it the meaning of, the theme of, or just the actual story of "Just Lather, That's All", welcome! I'm glad I can be of service. I know what a relief it is to find a text online. There is some discussion in the comments section but please feel free to add your own thoughts on the story so that the next visitor can use your views and ideas for his/her own school work, personal growth, or brand new shredding machine.
He said nothing when he entered. I was passing the best of my razors back and forth on a strop. When I recognized him I started to tremble. But he didn't notice. Hoping to conceal my emotion, I continued sharpening the razor. I tested it on the meat of my thumb, and then held it up to the light. At that moment be took off the bullet-studded belt that his gun holster dangled from. He hung it up on a wall hook and placed his military cap over it. Then be turned to me, loosening the knot of his tie, and said, "It's hot as bell. Give me a shave." He sat in the chair.
I estimated be bad a four-day beard. The four days taken up by the latest expedition in search of our troops. His face seemed reddened, burned by the sun. Carefully, I began to prepare the soap. I cut off a few slices, dropped them into the cup, mixed in a bit of warm water, and began to stir with the brush. Immediately the foam began to rise. "The other boys in the group should have this much beard, too." I continued stirring the lather.
"But we did all right, you know. We got the main ones. We brought back some dead, and we've got some others still alive. But pretty soon they'll all be dead."
"How many did you catch?" I asked.
"Fourteen. We had to go pretty deep into the woods to find them. But we'll get even. Not one of them comes out of this alive, not one."
He leaned back on the chair when he saw me with the lather-covered brush in my hand. I still had to put the sheet on him. No doubt about it, I was upset. I took a sheet out of a drawer and knotted it around my customer's neck. He wouldn't stop talking. He probably thought I was in sympathy with his party.
"The town must have learned a lesson from what we did the other day," he said.
"Yes," I replied, securing the knot at the base of his dark, sweaty neck.
"That was a fine show, eh?"
"Very good," I answered, turning back for the brush. The man closed his eyes with a gesture of fatigue and sat waiting for the cool caress of the soap. I had never had him so close to me. The day he ordered the whole town to file into the patio of the school to see the four rebels hanging there, I came face to face with him for an instant. But the sight of the mutilated bodies kept me from noticing the face of the man who had directed it all, the face I was now about to take into my hands. It was not an unpleasant face, certainly. And the beard, which made him seem a bit older than he was, didn't suit him badly at all. His name was Torres. Captain Torres. A man of imagination, because who else would have thought of hanging the naked rebels and then holding target practice on certain parts of their bodies? I began to apply the first layer of soap. With his eyes closed, be continued. "Without any effort I could go straight to sleep," he said, "but there's plenty to do this afternoon." I stopped the lathering and asked with a feigned lack of interest: "A firing squad?" "Something like that, but a little slower." I got on with the job of lathering his beard. My bands started trembling again. The man could not possibly realize it, and this was in my favor. But I would have preferred that he hadn't come. It was likely that many of our faction had seen him enter. And an enemy under one's roof imposes certain conditions. I would be obliged to shave that beard like any other one, carefully, gently, like that of any customer, taking pains to see that no single pore emitted a drop of blood. Being careful to see that the little tufts of hair did not lead the blade astray. Seeing that his skin ended up clean, soft, and healthy, so that passing the back of my hand over it I couldn't feel a hair. Yes, I was secretly a rebel, but I was also a conscientious barber, and proud of the preciseness of my profession. And this four-days' growth of beard was a fitting challenge.
I took the razor, opened up the two protective arms, exposed the blade and began the job, from one of the sideburns downward. The razor responded beautifully. His beard was inflexible and hard, not too long, but thick. Bit by bit the skin emerged. The razor rasped along, making its customary sound as fluffs of lather mixed with bits of hair gathered along the blade. I paused a moment to clean it, then took up the strop again to sharpen the razor, because I'm a barber who does things properly. The man, who had kept his eyes closed, opened them now, removed one of his hands from under the sheet, felt the spot on his face where the soap had been cleared off, and said, "Come to the school today at six o'clock." "The same thing as the other day?" I asked horrified. "It could be better," he replied. "What do you plan to do?" "I don't know yet. But we'll amuse ourselves." Once more he leaned back and closed his eyes. I approached him with the razor poised. "Do you plan to punish them all?" I ventured timidly. "All." The soap was drying on his face. I had to hurry. In the mirror I looked toward the street. It was the same as ever: the grocery store with two or three customers in it. Then I glanced at the clock: two-twenty in the afternoon. The razor continued on its downward stroke. Now from the other sideburn down. A thick, blue beard. He should have let it grow like some poets or priests do. It would suit him well. A lot of people wouldn't recognize him. Much to his benefit, I thought, as I attempted to cover the neck area smoothly. There, for sure, the razor had to be handled masterfully, since the hair, although softer, grew into little swirls. A curly beard. One of the tiny pores could be opened up and issue forth its pearl of blood. A good barber such as I prides himself on never allowing this to happen to a client. And this was a first-class client. How many of us had he ordered shot? How many of us had he ordered mutilated? It was better not to think about it. Torres did not know that I was his enemy. He did not know it nor did the rest. It was a secret shared by very few, precisely so that I could inform the revolutionaries of what Torres was doing in the town and of what he was planning each time he undertook a rebel-hunting excursion. So it was going to be very difficult to explain that I had him right in my hands and let him go peacefully-alive and shaved.
The beard was now almost completely gone. He seemed younger, less burdened by years than when he had arrived. I suppose this always happens with men who visit barber shops. Under the stroke of my razor Torres was being rejuvenated-rejuvenated because I am a good barber, the best in the town, if I may say so. A little more lather here, under his chin, on his Adam's apple, on this big vein. How hot it is getting! Torres must be sweating as much as I. But he is not afraid. He is a calm man, who is not even thinking about what he is going to do with the prisoners this afternoon. On the other hand I, with this razor in my hands, stroking and re-stroking this skin, trying to keep blood from oozing from these pores, can't even think clearly. Damn him for coming, because I'm a revolutionary and not a murderer. And how easy it would be to kill him. And he deserves it. Does be? No! What the devil! No one deserves to have someone else make the sacrifice of becoming a murderer. What do you gain by it? Nothing. Others come along and still others, and the first ones kill the second ones and they the next ones and it goes on like this until everything is a sea of blood. I could cut this throat just so, zip! zip! I wouldn't give him time to complain and since he has his eyes closed he wouldn't see the glistening knife blade or my glistening eyes. But I'm trembling like a real murderer. Out of his neck a gush of blood would spout onto the sheet, on the chair, on my hands, on the floor. I would have to close the door. And the blood would keep inching along the floor, warm, ineradicable, uncontainable, until it reached the street, like a little scarlet stream. I'm sure that one solid stroke, one deep incision, would prevent any pain. He wouldn't suffer. But what would I do with the body? Where would I hide it? I would have to flee, leaving all I have behind, and take refuge far away, far, far away. But they would follow until they found me. "Captain Torres' murderer. He slit his throat while he was shaving him a coward." And then on the other side. "The avenger of us all. A name to remember. (And here they would mention my name.) He was the town barber. No one knew he was defending our cause."
And what of all this? Murderer or hero? My destiny depends on the edge of this blade. I can turn my hand a bit more, press a little harder on the razor, and sink it in. The skin would give way like silk, like rubber, like the strop. There is nothing more tender than human skin and the blood is always there, ready to pour forth. A blade like this doesn't fail. It is my best. But I don't want to be a murderer, no sir. You came to me for a shave. And I perform my work honorably. . . . I don't want blood on my hands. Just lather, that's all. You are an executioner and I am only a barber. Each person has his own place in the scheme of things. That's right. His own place.
Now his chin bad been stroked clean and smooth. The man sat up and looked into the mirror. He rubbed his hands over his skin and felt it fresh, like new.
"Thanks," he said. He went to the hanger for his belt, pistol and cap. I must have been very pale; my shirt felt soaked. Torres finished adjusting the buckle, straightened his pistol in the holster and after automatically smoothing down his hair, he put on the cap. From his pants pocket be took out several coins to pay me for my services. And he began to bead toward the door. In the doorway he paused for a moment, and turning to me he said:
"They told me that you'd kill me. I came to find out. But killing isn't easy. You can take my word for it." And he headed on down the street.
By HERNANDO TÉLLEZ and Translated by Donald A. Yates