Preserving the future

I have not taken the liberty of writing for a while now, as you can see. I have been somewhat taken up by other projects, some creative, some less so, but I have been thinking of what I could say or really what I should be saying in these unmoored days.

Last week, we marked our fourth aliyahversary–four years since we made aliyah, according to the Hebrew date. I looked back to what I wrote about making aliyah, and if the same things hold true today. When I read this post from right before leaving, I was amused in the deepest way. To save you from the trouble of looking, apparently what I told people I would miss from the states after making aliyah was “convenience”. It was a good answer at the time, because it threw people off. I like doing that. Changing perspectives is often a helpful tool. But looking at that today, I realized how that’s one thing I don’t miss at all, in the way that I said.

Bagged lettuce?? Yes, we have that in Israel!

Perhaps the convenience of being able to understand bills written in English still stands…

Yes, that definitely still stands. But that’s a topic for another day, because even in English, the bills would still need translation.

What I am incredibly grateful for is a convenience of a different level I never imagined.

My garden.

In these days of self-isolation, limiting our interactions with the outside world, there is nothing more convenient than going out to the garden and picking dinner veggies. Or strawberries that are freshly ripened. Not having to go the market more than once every 3 weeks? Fantastically convenient! Washing the veggies that you have just picked? Amazing.

Granted, it’s just the two of us. I don’t know what we would do if we had more people to feed. But then we wouldn’t be who we are. I can only reflect on what we are experiencing. And that is a great deal of gratitude.

I have been reflecting on how else I have changed, even in my daily life. So so many  people have [probably now should be past tense as people have moved out of their cocooning/quarantining, for better or worse] started all kinds of homebody activities, such as bread-making, particularly sourdough. I’ve been baking bread since college, so that’s a lot of kneading. Now that we don’t want to go into stores unnecessarily, I’ve been baking our weekday bread, not just challah for Shabbat. I spent a lot of time looking into starting sourdough and decided it’s not for me. I don’t want to be beholden to a finicky starter. I like watering my indoor plants just fine, even if it would be every day, but don’t want to start up with a Feed me, Seymour kind of thing, beholden to the beast. But if it makes people happy…

What makes me happy is curing olives from our tree. Olives that we picked, brined, and waited for them to be ready for eating. Capers that I picked myself going around the neighborhood, looking for the little buds. Working on mustard now.

Mustard stalks
Each of those little pods holds exactly 4 mustard seeds. You need at least 6 Tablespoons of seeds to make any decent amount of mustard. That’s a lot of pods. It’s no wonder that the Talmud uses a mustard seed as a measure for the smallest amount. And because mustard is so prevalent, everyone knew what it looked like.
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This was taken on April 16th this year. The yellow flowers all over the hill (but not the asphodel on the left) are wild mustard plants. I could have collected the greens to eat, but I waited until last week to collect the stems after they dried just for the seeds. 
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I threw the strawberry (from our garden; the mustard is from the field next door) in for size comparison. It’s a normal-sized strawberry. These seeds are insanely small. As I open each pod, I think of them as little planes. There are two seeds that go together. That’s coach. Then you have one seed next to them, but by itself; business-class. And then you’ve got your first class; one all by itself in a separate cabin completely. 

To make a condiment of mustard, you also need salt. Salt of the earth, or of the sea. This is how they kept everything before refrigeration; preserving. Preserved lemons, Moroccan style. Oh, and purple cabbage sauerkraut and pickled beets with ginger, lacto-fermenting. Better salt than sugar, I think.

I am consistently (not constantly) amazed at how much work has gone into the knowledge of what works. How did our ancestors know how to take this grass and use it for cereal, and this one to use for condiment? How did they figure out how to make anything edible? Trial and error is pretty costly. I am consistently amazed how we are beneficiaries of so much, not to be taken for granted at all. And my gratitude for having access to this knowledge, Google and otherwise, to help me bridge from the past to the future.

Salt, the symbol of forever in the Holy Temple, transferred as what we every day dip our bread into when making HaMotzi, the blessing over bread, which has transformed from grain to wheat berry to flour, mixed with liquid, yeast, time, and baked into bread.

Psalms Chapter 104 תְּהִלִּים

יד  מַצְמִיחַ חָצִיר, לַבְּהֵמָה,    וְעֵשֶׂב, לַעֲבֹדַת הָאָדָם;
לְהוֹצִיא לֶחֶם,    מִן-הָאָרֶץ.
14 Who causeth the grass to spring up for the cattle, and herb for the service of man; {N}
to bring forth bread out of the earth,

ברוך אתה ה’ ,המוציא לחם מן הארץ

G-d, You are blessed; You who take bread out from the earth.

I am grateful for the space and time to bring things from the past into the future, and for the chance to do it here in this Land.

 

I was asked to write about my father’s poetry

I’ve been spending a lot of time traveling. Google tells me I went around the earth 1.7 times this past year. That is more accurate than I would have wanted. This last summer, I was in Boston, Maine, LA, Yosemite, LA, home to Israel. Two weeks later, off to Australia. Then my father had a brain bleed, and I flew to LA from Melbourne. And then home a month later. Maybe you can imagine how much I missed my home. I can’t even remember, even though I am in the same position now. I can only feel how much I miss home and all that means now.

I came back to LA in January to see how my father is doing. I think I did a better job being proactive when I was here in the fall. I couldn’t afford to be emotional but only to plan how to set things up for my father when he was released from the hospital. But now, four months into this bleed, we see so much progress and so much pause. We were told that the first six months is our window of opportunity; so how to make the most of the time we have left?

We are pushing all kinds of activities to stimulate his memories; help with his brain. We took him to the Farmers’ Market; I thought he’d enjoy seeing the people and all the goings-on; he just wanted to leave. I thought he’d enjoy the fountain at the Grove Shopping Mall; he just wanted to leave.

He remembers who I am, mostly, except when he thought I was his date for Friday night dinner. That was the dictionary definition of awkward. Even the Urban Dictionary. But he is basically a 94 year old toddler. He is cranky when he’s tired; he has to be watched when he walks because he can trip so easily. He doesn’t know what he wants to eat but he goes searching for food. OK that’s not a toddler so much; that’s an adolescent.

But even staff people at various institutions have asked me if I’m his wife. I know he looks young and I look old, but REALLY?? I told off one woman the other day; I told her never assume any relationship of anyone; just ask what is the relationship. There are at least two problems; one, it could be not true, and two, he could believe you.

OH LA. I’m no trophy anything.

So touching toes is relevant here indeed. Flexibility is the key, as much as my father has none, except for touching the truth. And so comes in the idea of equanimity.

ISHI has been touting the goal of equanimity in meditation. And in Life. And I resisted mightily. I thought it was unrealistic; unfortunate and impossible; inhumane, really. After all, we are emotional beings. We should value our emotional reactions because they show we are alive.

Until I had to deal with my father. The emotions of seeing someone reduced to a toddler are overwhelming. You can’t act effectively when you are overcome with emotions. So. I have found some ability to step back from the emotional reaction and listen. And then act with equanimity, as much as possible.

And if not equanimity, then humor.

Which then I realized is the same thing. Stepping back from the situation and seeing another side. And then you can allow the humor of the situation to settle on you.

The Dalai Lama is supposed to be someone who has maybe a natural sense of equanimity. He is certainly not known for being someone who reacts emotionally. But he is known for his sense of humor. ISHI knows him personally as someone who likes to punch, jovially, of course. Maybe a representation of one hand clapping?

Oh but wait! I haven’t written a thing about poetry here.

I tried to impress upon his community the need to up their game; to get people to come visit him. He did it for them, and now it’s his turn, at the very least. So one person came and brought one other person. And they were visually disappointed that my father wasn’t more interactive with them. I explained that you have to listen to my father as if he were reciting poetry, or singing jazz. It’s the whole thing experience.

I may have said some other things. I don’t remember. This has taken me awhile to work on. I have already left LA and come home, thank God.

But what I was told before I left there was that I should write up something to hand out to visitors about my father’s poetry, so they will understand him.

I decided to step back and wait for the equanimity to settle in.

And then maybe I’ll find the humor.

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The humor here is the line on Aharon Megged’s grave at the Kinneret Cemetery; Jewish graves may say “May his soul be bound up in Eternity”. His says “May his soul be bound up in his books.”
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A new day is born and it is bright and sunny through the cloud cover

wrinkled

One of the things that I love about living in Tzfat is the clean air. That means we (and by we, of course, I actually mean me) can hang our laundry outside to dry. The only thing that stands in our my way is that the winds are sometimes so strong that our hanging rack falls down.

Yes, that’s one of the things remaining on my original to-do list from when we were moving into the house is to put up a fixed clothesline.

Moving on…

But one of the results of this wonderfully eco-conscious financially-savvy way of drying clothes is that they get quite wrinkled. I don’t have enough Martha Stewart in me to figure out a way to hang them so they don’t. But mostly because another thing I love living in Tzfat is that it doesn’t matter. I can be wrinkled and no one would say a thing.

Oh, you thought perhaps I meant something else?

Now that you mention it, it did cross my mind, or in fact, my mirror. I had looked at myself this morning after putting on a particularly wrinkled shirt, adding a particularly not-flattering headscarf that matches the shirt’s color and was good enough for a day at home, and I did notice that my face matched the shirt (but not the scarf) pretty well.

And I thought to myself that yes, here in Tzfat, I can be wrinkled and no one would say a thing.

I do notice, though. I pay attention, sometimes in the back of my head, and sometimes more in the foreground, of the others around me. I am cognizant of how old everyone is or how old they act. But not how wrinkled their clothing is! I wonder often if I’m the oldest in the room, which happens often these days, or I wonder how old that old person next to me in yoga is older than me, even as she moves better than I do.

Yes, I am still touching my toes. But I’m trying harder to do more.

We tried out a class in watercolors at the senior center. There is one mother and daughter team, along with some verified seniors who are very talented. We are novices, although we have played at it some along the years. I appreciate how much work it takes to do it well, and how much there is to learn. We went yesterday to a shop in a nearby town that sells art supplies at a good price (for Israel). The store was recommended by one of the participants in the class, with the added suggestion that we ask the shop owner for advice. And so we did. He spent a long time with us, suggesting which paints to get, what brushes, paper, etc. He looked to save us money, which we certainly appreciated. When we were finally ready to pay for our multiple purchases, ISHI asked him if he works in watercolors. No, he answered. He used to be a photographer, but not anymore.

Now he helps people like us become better, stretching out our wrinkles.

And I will work on using my mirror to see farther.

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the last of the books

Well, hardly. We are down to one last box of books, but I was giving homage to a great book, The Last of the Just. This of course has absolutely nothing to do with my situation, although I am sure that a case could be made (badly) that living in Israel is an existential nod to the greater fragility of all mankind.

So let’s not go there.

Instead, let’s talk about books as a value. As something we should have; display; but most of all, use. The enjoyment of books is what is inside and then what can be brought out.

It is most ironic to me that there is a word in Japanese for having too many books. Tsundoku.  積ん読. A little of the history:

The word dates back to the very beginning of modern Japan, the Meiji era (1868-1912) and has its origins in a pun. Tsundoku, which literally means reading pile, is written in Japanese as 積ん読. Tsunde oku means to let something pile up and is written 積んでおく. Some wag around the turn of the century swapped out that oku (おく) in tsunde oku for doku (読) – meaning to read. Then since tsunde doku is hard to say, the word got mushed together to form tsundoku.

Ironic, of course, because of the whole Konmari movement stemming from Japanese minimalism.

I am not proposing that you should only have your books as a wish list. I am saying you should enjoy them in all ways possible. It has to be more than the thrill of the unknown, or the pursuit of happiness…

This is by no means a new insight for me (I wrote about it here); (oh and in March ’12! here); it’s just an essential one. The importance of books/anything should be for intrinsic and extrinsic value. I do get a good feeling seeing our books laid out properly, where they can be located easily, subjects somewhat related. And when need be, and that be a lot, shelved according to size. Large art books sit together sideways.

Here’s a fellow who takes his books to a new art form:

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How did you and your best friend meet? 📚 Liz (@elizabeth_sagan ) is back in one of my pics. Yeeey (actually, she made write that😂)! Seriously now though, for those of you who don't know, Liz is my official photographer (and I am her photographer) and, also, my best friend. We've been knowing each other for 11 years now (I think?) and oh boy, we've been through a lot. Answering what is still one of the most popular DMs I get – NO, we are not in a relationship. We have been sharing everything else though. Our love of reading (which is actually how we met – on a site that dealt with book reviews), of writing, of trekking and sport in general, of music, of drawing and photography. It is kinda like we are soul mates without the relationship part haha (like seriously, we even think of things at the same time and complete each others sentences😂; freaky really). #WHPbestfriends 📚 Anyway, how would you rate your week, guys? Mine was a 7-8. Not bad. 📑 📑 📑 #bookstagram #book #reader #sundayfunday #shelfiesunday #shelfie #bookshelf #bookshelves #art #bookish #readersofinstagram #poetrycommunity #wordporn #myartwork #artoninstagram #lifestyleblogger #czytamy #bedtimestories #friendshipgoals #euamolerh #theweekoninstagram #postitforaesthetic #norsemythology #aesthetic

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So, is it true with books as with clothes, that if you haven’t worn them in a year, just let them go?

No.

And yes. Some books you should grow out of. Some just aren’t worth a second or third look.

And oh yes, there are some found treasures in those last boxes. I am happy that we have the room to store them and hopefully the days to sit down and rediscover them.

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Our guests now have a little something to read

And yes, kudos to ISHI for finally putting up the shelves!! But yes, we still need one more bookcase for the last of the boxes.

Tsundoku of our Tzfat house.

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Yes, dusting is required. The plastic bit is from the plastic shelf that the other books were sitting on. That has been disassembled and taken to the yard where it belongs. Yay!

 

 

looking inwards

We’re here. It’s already been four weeks; that is, we have spent four Shabbatot here in our new home. It’s certainly feeling homey now. The boxes are banned to outer corners so we don’t have to bump into them all the time, nor even deal with them. I am not in a hurry to get to those boxes,  since they are basically ISHI’s books.

35 boxes of books.

I counted them in order to estimate how many bookshelves we need. You know you can Google that–how many books fit on a shelf. We need approximately 24 shelves. So now come the requests for handymen who can build us these shelves, and then comes the wait for the estimates.

Yes, we knew we would need to spend money on this side of the mountain. And realistically, there are always things that pop up that you would never have expected. Replacing our shower doors turned out to be much simpler (and less expensive) than we thought. Putting up fixtures is more complicated…wires that should be working are not; some are in the oddest places and makes access quite ridiculous. But the primary lists are getting whittled down, and other secondary things are taking their place.

And with all of this home improvement, we find ourselves also in the month of Ellul, when we are supposed to be getting ready for the New Year. Thus the title of this post; the need for some introspection. I can easily find many faults that I have to work on, really, much too easily. And there is a lot of negative in the world, as if I had to remind anyone…We have heard recently of too many people who are battling diseases of too many kinds, and the heart aches for each one.

With my tendency to go negative, though, I am working on looking at the positive. And I’m grateful that I’ve had a little nodding in this direction today from social media, no less.

The words “soul searching” or “confession” can be menacing. They usually remind us of that which is not OK, of that which we have to fix. But this week’s Portion, Ki Tavo, presents a different kind of confession: Vidui Ma’aser (confession upon tithing). After performing the instructions related to Ma’aser (tithing), one says a series of moving verses. Here is just part of this confession: “I have not turned aside from Your commandments nor have I forgotten any of them… I have obeyed the LORD my G-d; I have done everything You commanded me.” This is a positive kind of confession, in which one looks back on all the good things one did, and also talks about it.
Rabbi Kook writes about it wonderfully: “A person needs to sometimes rejoice by expressing with his lips the good things that he did… Therefore we need the confession over the Mitzvot from time to time, in order to strengthen our heart in the path of G-d, just as we need the confession over transgressions”.
Meaning, along with the confession over transgressions (“Ashamnu, Bagadnu… We have been guilty, we have dealt others treacherously…” and the entire confession of the Ten Days of Repentance) Rabbi Kook also talks about “confessing our Mitzvot”. One should sometimes confess one’s good deeds, because soul searching is not only about that which we need to fix. It is also a call to pay attention to everything that is good and beautiful, fixed and excellent – with us and with all those who surround us.

And then on Brainpickings, Maria Popova quotes Martin Seligman’s

“What-Went-Well Exercise,” also known as “Three Blessings” — based on the interventions he and his team at the Positive Psychology Center and the University of Pennsylvania have validated in the random-assignment, placebo-controlled experiments they have been conducting since 2001 to study changes in life-satisfaction and depression levels.

“Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well.”

So I will set down now to get into the habit, three blessings.

  1. Cats that can wander into our storage area because the door doesn’t close is a good thing, because they will take care of the mice. And the scorpions. And also the snakes. The guys who are fixing our doors let us know. And so did our gardener.
  2. Hiring one of our handymen, even though he is slower than others, is a good thing because we are helping pay for his wife’s acupuncture and alternative medicine for her cancer treatment. So I’m not looking at how he is putting in some of the things we asked.
  3. Our gardener is coming to lay down irrigation piping so we can plant things. Things will grow here. That is a blessing that is promising, but itself is enough.

And then reading about the importance of accepting negative thoughts? Icing on the Ellul cake.

looking forward!

I had started composing* a post last week that was all about what I won’t miss from the old neighborhood. I got to the end and realized I had to put in what I would miss. That made me realize I shouldn’t be focussed on the negative at all, and that wasn’t a good way to leave.

The best way to leave is to focus on the good. There were many good points about being here in the city for this past year, and I had to reframe my thinking. It should be all about gratitude for the past, and hope for the future. I then was able to see this year as an airlock between the states and our own home. So the airlock is not always the most comfortable, but it’s a process, and that’s what we are in, thank G-d.

And then I read an article I had been saving, How to Get Past Negativity Bias in Order to Hardwire Positive Experiences, so I had no excuses extra motivation!

I can truly pose all the negatives into positives, anyway…

Most of the complaints centered around the issue of privacy, so that is the top of the list right now. I am looking forward to our

own

space.

Privacy.

Country. I am simply a country mouse, and I accept that willingly.

Our own yard. I already bought a hose for watering what may come. And for our car.

Cleanliness. Of the air and the streets.

Quiet. Dogs run around, but don’t have the need to profess territoriality, so are happier, I presume.

Music of my choice, played quietly.

People who might be walking by and talking on their phones and walking by. Moving on.

Space, to put things, to have guests, to have space to do projects, to be creative in new ways. To expand and feel at home.

The stairs. Wide. Steady. Safe.

The views! The new views of the north and east. Our views from our porch were often wonderful, and that I admit that I will miss, but I can do that honestly and still look forward to the new views.

And since we’re not leaving Tzfat really, but moving to a different neighborhood, we will go back and visit the sunsets often enough. I can recognize what I want to see more of, and what is good to leave behind.

To smell the roses.

Yes, very much looking forward!

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*I chose that word carefully, having composed a song about our travails! I was inspired by our 4 year-old grandson, who wrote a letter I read as a song because why not?

gravity and revelation

Gravity means a few things. It can refer to importance; it also can refer to the physical property. Let’s use both, but start with the physical.

Last Shabbat, we had guests here, an old study partner of ISHI, from their days at YU, so that makes it 37 years ago. We had lost touch over the years, as this was before Facebook and even email. But with the help of a Google search, he did locate us and let us know he’d be here in Tzfat at this time with his recently-wed wife and his sister. We are in the middle of boxes, so we wouldn’t be able to house them, but they came for all the meals.

At some point at lunch, probably when I was pulling out serving trays, I dropped one of my favorite glass trays from Israel, and the decorative edge came off one side. It didn’t break, and we also realized it wasn’t fastened that well to begin with. And I sighed a large sigh of relief.

Later on that day, towards night, ISHI went to close the dining room window and hit a vase on the window sill. This time, we weren’t so lucky, and the shards took a while to clean up. Worse, of course, is that it wasn’t ours, but belonged to our landlords. The only good part of that was it was made in China, so not that expensive a piece. I had looked at that earlier this year.

After nightfall, when ISHI went into the living room to pray, he quickly came back into the kitchen to say something wasn’t right next door. He had heard some screams, and we should go quickly.

Earlier that day, I had seen our neighbors up on the porch of the other neighbor, working hard as the neighborhood watch. I had wanted to introduce our guests to them, because they all had a number of matching points of interest. And the sister and our neighbor were indeed happy to speak for a long time, in French, a little Moroccan Arabic with the other neighbor, too.

So I went with the sister, both of us quite concerned about what we might find. Our neighbor opened the door for us, and we saw his wife on the ground, having fallen. Had she fallen down the stairs? No, she just tripped and fell there, but she’s of a certain age where falls are not simple. The sister, who just happens to be a physician’s assistant, was able to speak with her in French in the most gentle way, softly diagnosing her vitals and the situation. Once our neighbors could remember the phone number, I was able to call Hatzalah, an  emergency company that arrives by motorcycle, or even this time, on bike, which is enormously helpful in old cities without easy car access. They came with crowds of helpers. I was quite impressed.

She was fine; she was able to wait to go the next day to get x-rays, which were fine. Bruised, embarrassed, but dignity basically intact.

Thanks to our old friend and his sister. And Google. And fate.

But it left me thinking about gravity, near misses and full encounters. And Gravity of gravitas, importance. Tisha B’Av, the fast day recalling the destruction of the Holy Temple over 2000 years ago. We are living in such grave times, with people not making personal connections, but allowing themselves to be used to further someone else’s objectives. We are taught that the Temple was destroyed due to Baseless Hatred שִׂנְאַת חִנָּם, and the most direct remedy for that is the opposite,

observing the corresponding precept is the antidote that will lead to the restoration of the Temple. Ibn Ezra (Lev. 19:17) expresses this concept when he states that by observing the commandment to “Love one’s neighbor,” we will return to our Land, because this mitzvah is the opposite of sinat chinam, which is what destroyed the Second Temple.

But what came to me today, in mourning the loss of the Holy Temple, was that we need to make the personal connections work because that’s what we are truly missing. The Temple was a place of connection, of continued revelation of G-d to us, but it got lost even before the actual building was destroyed. We turned things into the essence, rather than the connections with G-d, and with people. So our redemption will come when we reconnect, first with people, and then with G-d. That our revelation will flow from us back to our Source.

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Do you see how much we all want to connect?

 

 

the bars of thy gates

This is not new.

יב  שַׁבְּחִי יְרוּשָׁלִַם, אֶת-ה;    הַלְלִי אֱ-לֹקיִךְ צִיּוֹן. 12 Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion.
יג  כִּי-חִזַּק, בְּרִיחֵי שְׁעָרָיִךְ;    בֵּרַךְ בָּנַיִךְ בְּקִרְבֵּךְ. 13 For He hath made strong the bars of thy gates; He hath blessed thy children within thee.

We are entering a period of mourning today, those of us from Ashkenazi backgrounds. The Nine Days preceding the Fast of Tisha B’Av are held to be the saddest days in the Jewish year.  We recall the destruction of the Holy Temple over 2000 years ago. There are those who say that we could dial back our mourning, since, after all, we are back in our city. We won, they say.

So what’s the problem, as our 9 year-old grandson would say.

Jerusalem is embattled. The Muslim world keeps upping the score. Those monsters thought they would bring guns, not “just” knives, into the holiest place in Jerusalem, which we Jews are not allowed to enter, protected by our people, keeping the agreement made uncaringly by Moshe Dayan in ’68, that we would let the Wakf take care of the Temple Mount, keeping the status quo, complicating things forever…but then they killed their people instead, or at least not Jews. So they had to riot when metal detectors were put in, to make sure no one else would have to get killed.

And this is not the only case. Their leaders, their “religious” leaders, lead them in incitement. The muftis are bringing out old myths to rile them up. But this is not new. They have been doing this forever, using the people to go on public tantrums.

We have always had to protect what we love. But we need so much help. The world is not going to do that, so we need to do it ourselves.

King David knew that the only One we could depend on was the only One.

Psalms Chapter 147 תְּהִלִּים

א  הַלְלוּ-קהּ:
כִּי-טוֹב, זַמְּרָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ–    כִּי-נָעִים, נָאוָה תְהִלָּה.
1 Hallelujah; {N}
for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is comely.
ב  בּוֹנֵה יְרוּשָׁלִַם ה;    נִדְחֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל יְכַנֵּס. 2 The LORD doth build up Jerusalem, He gathereth together the dispersed of Israel;
ג  הָרֹפֵא, לִשְׁבוּרֵי לֵב;    וּמְחַבֵּשׁ, לְעַצְּבוֹתָם. 3 Who healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.
ד  מוֹנֶה מִסְפָּר, לַכּוֹכָבִים;    לְכֻלָּם, שֵׁמוֹת יִקְרָא. 4 He counteth the number of the stars; He giveth them all their names.
ה  גָּדוֹל אֲדוֹנֵינוּ וְרַב-כֹּחַ;    לִתְבוּנָתוֹ, אֵין מִסְפָּר. 5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.
ו  מְעוֹדֵד עֲנָוִים ה;    מַשְׁפִּיל רְשָׁעִים עֲדֵי-אָרֶץ. 6 The LORD upholdeth the humble; He bringeth the wicked down to the ground.
ז  עֱנוּ לַה בְּתוֹדָה;    זַמְּרוּ לֵאלֹהֵינוּ בְכִנּוֹר. 7 Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving, sing praises upon the harp unto our God;
ח  הַמְכַסֶּה שָׁמַיִם, בְּעָבִים–    הַמֵּכִין לָאָרֶץ מָטָר;
הַמַּצְמִיחַ הָרִים    חָצִיר.
8 Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, {N}
who maketh the mountains to spring with grass.
ט  נוֹתֵן לִבְהֵמָה לַחְמָהּ;    לִבְנֵי עֹרֵב, אֲשֶׁר יִקְרָאוּ. 9 He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.
י  לֹא בִגְבוּרַת הַסּוּס יֶחְפָּץ;    לֹא-בְשׁוֹקֵי הָאִישׁ יִרְצֶה. 10 He delighteth not in the strength of the horse; He taketh no pleasure in the legs of a man.
יא  רוֹצֶה ה, אֶת-יְרֵאָיו–    אֶת-הַמְיַחֲלִים לְחַסְדּוֹ. 11 The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that wait for His mercy.
יב  שַׁבְּחִי יְרוּשָׁלִַם, אֶת-ה;    הַלְלִי אֱ-לֹקיִךְ צִיּוֹן. 12 Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion.
יג  כִּי-חִזַּק, בְּרִיחֵי שְׁעָרָיִךְ;    בֵּרַךְ בָּנַיִךְ בְּקִרְבֵּךְ. 13 For He hath made strong the bars of thy gates; He hath blessed thy children within thee.
יד  הַשָּׂם-גְּבוּלֵךְ שָׁלוֹם;    חֵלֶב חִטִּים, יַשְׂבִּיעֵךְ. 14 He maketh thy borders peace; He giveth thee in plenty the fat of wheat.
טו  הַשֹּׁלֵחַ אִמְרָתוֹ אָרֶץ;    עַד-מְהֵרָה, יָרוּץ דְּבָרוֹ. 15 He sendeth out His commandment upon earth; His word runneth very swiftly.
טז  הַנֹּתֵן שֶׁלֶג כַּצָּמֶר;    כְּפוֹר, כָּאֵפֶר יְפַזֵּר. 16 He giveth snow like wool; He scattereth the hoar-frost like ashes.
יז  מַשְׁלִיךְ קַרְחוֹ כְפִתִּים;    לִפְנֵי קָרָתוֹ, מִי יַעֲמֹד. 17 He casteth forth His ice like crumbs; who can stand before His cold?
יח  יִשְׁלַח דְּבָרוֹ וְיַמְסֵם;    יַשֵּׁב רוּחוֹ, יִזְּלוּ-מָיִם. 18 He sendeth forth His word, and melteth them; He causeth His wind to blow, and the waters flow.
יט  מַגִּיד דְּבָרָו לְיַעֲקֹב;    חֻקָּיו וּמִשְׁפָּטָיו, לְיִשְׂרָאֵל. 19 He declareth His word unto Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances unto Israel.
כ  לֹא עָשָׂה כֵן, לְכָל-גּוֹי–    וּמִשְׁפָּטִים בַּל-יְדָעוּם:
הַלְלוּ-קהּ.
20 He hath not dealt so with any nation; and as for His ordinances, they have not known them. {N}
Hallelujah.

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here we go again for the first time

A year has passed with us here in the center of Tzfat. It is time for some peace and quiet. But to get to there, we have to pass through another rite of passage, and we are again living with boxes. Again, we are weighing our possessingness. Again, we are self-judging why we have this stuff. Does it bring us such pleasure? Comfort? Right now, of course, since we are boxing up what we haven’t necessarily used in a year, to add to the boxes of stuff in our storage space that we definitely haven’t used in a year or even thought of, the answer should be “no.”

The question is in the should be.  But as I started this blog to figure out what possesses us more than what we possess, it’s the value that we inherit and also place upon things that matters.

I could continue playing with language about things and stuff and being possessed, but I’m finished. For the moment, at least. After all, I wrote about my battle with things already here  and  here and here (basically all of last August when we were first unpacking our life lift). What have I learned in the year? In the past 64 years, to be exact?

I am a person who thrives on order; place. I don’t like thinking about where things are; I like/need, really need, to know that I can reach into a particular drawer, and on the right side of that drawer, I will find that certain spoon I require to stir that certain dish. I like having specific things to be used as often as possible for specific tasks, not multi-tasking. Yes, it’s a level of comfort that I want. I was tired of grinding my fingers along with the cabbage, so we purchased a food processor, even though I had said we wouldn’t buy anything before moving into our new and bigger place. Thankfully, it’s also fun to use, so I’m feeling more productive with my cooking. We purchased fans to work with the air conditioners here. It’s hot and stickier than it should be.

I’ve worn heels I think twice this year, both times to weddings, and not to all the weddings we’ve gone to. Again, comfort wins. But I’m not getting rid of the heels so quickly. I’ve gotten rid of the shoes I don’t like already. I like what I have.

I didn’t need to pull out the big guns of my heavy down coat last winter, but I definitely won’t give that away. It gets cold here in Tzfat, and it does snow every eleven years or so with some significant accumulation. The last storm was three years ago, so we’re due soon enough. We brought one snow shovel for then, and I’d rather be over-prepared than desperate.

I am so looking forward to having a place for my things, with a sense of purpose for all of them, even if they are only for nostalgia.

I’m looking forward to knowing where all the tools are, or at least where they should be returned after their use. I want to know where the toys are, again, at least in potential. Same with the broom, and the flour, and the machzorim, the special prayer books that are used only once a year.

I am looking forward to pulling out all the books we did bring and then figuring out what books we can now buy. Yes, the big birds of Israel book, once we are settled. That will be around the time of the next bird migration. We will be waiting for them at our new place.

I’m looking forward to all the musical instruments being in one room. Not sure which one yet, but we’ll figure that out.

I’m looking forward to figuring out where guests should stay, where they will enjoy the peace and quiet that we hope to gain there.

I am looking forward to guests having space, so we can all enjoy each other in ease.

Having guests, having adventures, enjoying nature. Space for our technology, the computer and camera accoutrements.

And still hanging our clothes to dry in the breeze.

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the view across our street; yes, that’s Mt. Hermon in the distance