Chronicles from Home
December 18, 2003
is here and Yerushalayim is bundling up.
had to take scarves, umbrellas and boots out of the closet. What a nice
feeling. Our Californian children are very excited by the sound of thunder
and the feeling of wet feet.
we all know that life is a big glass of water: half empty… or half full.
knew that this new excitement called "weather" would bring some
friends along, such as Mr. Running-Nose, Mrs. Coughing, and even Uncle
Antibiotic. For example, I felt more tired, fighting the flu and watching
over the children at night.
also became obvious that I would have to be very careful from now on in a
different way. I am not talking about taking vitamin C; I am talking about
fighting the biggest virus of all, the meanest bacteria ever, my Yetzer Hara!
my vigilance, my Yetzer Hara attacks me, sometimes without any warning.
instance, just the other day I was seating in clinic, waiting for my turn.
I needed to have some paperwork signed for our health insurance plan. I
had walked there under a heavy rain and I was soaked. I found myself
waiting in a long corridor, surrounded by people who needed far more than few
signatures on one form. Nonetheless, I regretted not to have brought some
antibacterial spray with me.
I waited, I had no idea what to do, despite the lengthy explanations of the
secretary. My Hebrew is far from being fluent! So I just decided to
be patient. I asked a woman next to me:
do they know who is next in line?"
you waiting to get in room 15 also?"
room do you need to go to?"
do they know which room we all need to go?"
wished that I had her faith, especially when I counted approximately 35 people
ahead of me on the benches. I kept keeping my mind busy watching the nice
puddles my raincoat was making on the floor.
then I was attacked! A little, soft and sweet voice came straight to my
brain: "Why did you leave Los Angeles? Your friend Dr. Michel would
have taking care of you. The pharmacy would have been open 24 hours when
your kids need it. It took you 5 years to understand what people were
saying and finally you got it. What to start all over?
Everything was so easy there!" "Yes, why?" I wondered back.
when I felt like crying, my eyes caught something unusual on the table in front
of me. I knew right then that I just won this battle. I leaned
forward to grab the Parsha Hashavua commentaries and started to read, a smile on
my face. That's one of the reasons I came here: to read Torah while
waiting somewhere, instead of "Anashim Magazine"!
had won the battle in the clinic, but not the war, as would have said an
ex-compatriot of mine. That explained what happened few days later.
have been taking cabs in the morning lately, instead of walking to schools and
Ulpan. Batya is recovering from Strep and I prefer not to have her walking
20 minutes in the cold weather. We did buy a car (was it 10 years ago?)
but it is somewhere in Shvita (strike) Land. Rich sometimes works very
late, so I let him emerge slowly.
I call a taxi company from home and as soon as it arrives, I throw (literally)
the children in the backseat, collapse next to them and struggle to inform our
driver in Hebrew of the wonderful trip we are going to take all together and the
numerous stops he will have to make between home and Ulpan. We drop Yehuda
first, but I am a little nervous to leave Batya alone in the cab. So we
all rush inside the school, (we need a code to enter and I can't just leave him
on the sidewalk) and rush back in the cab. I drop Batya and I continue to
my Ulpan where Rich joins me later.
This is, most certainly, a high risk for a Yetzer Hara attack with a lot of weapons available, like strikes, rain, cabs and lack of sleep. Generally I am ready to fight and so far, I managed to scare him away... except the other day.
was at Ulpan when Batya's school called to tell me to pick her up. Of
course I worried. She had been sick already the week before. After
two seconds of consultation when Rich decided that he needs the Ulpan more than
I do (I had to agree with him), I rushed to the door.
ran in the street, nice cold raindrops keeping me company. The fleeting
vision of my beloved minivan parked on Rexford Drive brought back painful pangs
of nostalgia inside of me. My "friend" was at work again!
managed to get a cab. I forgot to tell you that cabs here, are
inexpensive, B'H'' and since we started speaking Hebrew to the drivers, the
problem of the fare has disappeared completely (see Rich's chronicle on the
topic). I just had time to catch my breath and say shalom to the driver
when he asked me if I wanted to go to my son's school and gave me the address!
I was surprised. We were far from home and there are far more cabs here as
falafels stands. I didn't occur to me than we already met.
eyes looked instinctively to the left corner of the car where names of drivers
are written. Will he be a Moshe or a Mohamed? Who is this guy,
telling me now that he knows my address? I felt relieved; his name was
Chaim. I could see his eyes smiling at me. I then recognized him
from another frantic morning. He told me how the drivers are monitoring my
progress in Hebrew when they hear me on the taxis' open line asking for a cab.
He inquired of the welfare of my American husband, my French spoken children, my
Tunisian born parents! I must have been very talkative on that previous
ride unless he works at night for the Mossad. He told me how amazed they
all are when seeing new immigrants, especially now and especially from Magic
Hollywood Land. How encouraging it was for them. I pushed firmly my
Yetzer Hara away. Needless to say, we had a very nice ride the 3 of us:
him, my Yetzer Tov and I!
victory made me feel overconfident in myself. I even had the arrogant
feeling that, one day, I would be writing my chronicles in Hebrew and
understanding the local jokes. I discontinued the building of my inner
fence, no more infiltrations would dare to come in. Of course, it is just
what the dark side in me was waiting for.
challenged me again on the first visit to a doctor. The familiar and
reassuring faces of all our doctors in LA kept flashing through my mind while I
was waiting for my turn. Luckily, I met their Israeli colleague before he
had a chance to implant negative thoughts in my brain. The doctor's name
is Michel, he is French and very nice. Does it sound familiar? Batya
almost called him "tonton" (uncle) the way she used to call our friend
on Fridays my Yetzer Hara tries shyly to interfere with Shabbat's preparations.
He is aware that an open confrontation would result in failure. I would
never allow Shabbat to become a "risk factor" in my personal conflict.
Well, I try….
on Fridays, I need to clean, cook, do the laundry and tons of things I don't
have a chance to do during the week. It is so tempting to recall
affectionately my wonderful cleaning lady, Maria. Friday is also the only
"day off" that we have here and it could be all the more frustrating
to spend it this way. The week starts again Sunday morning for the whole
family. And of course Shabbat is Shabbat. There is no real word in
English (or French) to describe what Shabbat is. There is nevertheless one
word that doesn't describe it for me: "rest".
of the enemy's most common tactics are popping things into my head like:
"You are too tired and it is going to rain, why bother to clean the
windows?" Or " Who said that dust is a problem. Why can't it be a
layer of protection for our seferim?" (I love this thought, could it
be?) But I valiantly continue rushing in the house at the rhythm of two
magic words, Lichvod Shabbat. I have my answer ready for him: just before
Shabbat, the horn will blow all over Ha-Ir Ha-Kodesh (the Holy City) and the
sound of it is my weekly reward for my hard work.
to hear those sounds waves covering the City, as if they were dressing Her up in
honor of the Shabbat Queen's imminent arrival, is worth every chore of my day.
faithful Yetzer Hara that is always with me in adversity, you were right: I did
give up a lot by coming here. But I gained so much more. If it was
to be done again, I will do it without hesitation. And I will make sure to
bring you along, too, because each time I have to fight you off, you make me
more aware of the reasons we moved here.
have to do the job you have been created for, putting doubts in my mind and
bring complaints to my lips. But be aware that I will do my job as well: I
will live in the Country that HaShem gave us and I will do it, if this is His
we raise, with His Help, our children to love everything about this country,
even the strikes!
see, my old companion, I always try to see the glass half full and I have no
intention to change now. Let us be friends instead, and maybe we will
manage to fill up the glass to the top together.
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