empty Slice of Life

Hunger At My Door

I don’t recall exactly how old I was when “the man in the car” showed up on our street, but I was...

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It’s not always predictable where one short, incidental conversation can lead.  Several years ago, when my husband was in aveilus, I got a ride to a wedding with my neighbor and friend, Becky Perlowitz.  Morah Becky is a beloved ganenet and a prolific author of several wonderful children’s books.  On the way home, we somehow got to talking about her books and her experience of the publishing process.  I’ve written many articles for various magazines and newspapers, but in my life, I never considered writing a book. With one small exception.  When I was single, I thought that once married, I would write a book about my memorable dating horror stories adventures.  I was going to call it Have a Nice Life! and dedicate it to my dear husband who rescued me from all the craziness, but I never pursued the idea because I didn’t think anyone would actually believe the outlandish stories I would have written about. (Truthfully, I wouldn’t have believed them myself had they not happened to me. But they did happen and I consider myself very lucky to have escaped the whole dating situation in one piece.)  The conversation with Becky sparked my interest and inspired me to try my hand at writing a children’s book.  I was also motivated by the thought that b’ezrat Hashem I would one day be able read to my book to my future grandchildren.

The longer I live, the longer my list of questions grows. Besides issues with major ramifications I find difficult to understand but won’t even get into, there are the less significant things that also leave me scratching my head.  For example, why are political parties called just that when the word “party” is the last word that would describe what they actually do?  I don’t know.  Why do we sip coffee straight from a mug and eat soup out of a bowl with a spoon?  I don’t know.  Why are such unique yet similar and rhyming words associated with both the beginning and end of life (womb and tomb)?  I don’t know. Don’t get me wrong - I am not up all night pondering these questions.  I just wonder.

I’d like to share with you an incredible story that was told to me firsthand by Malkie*. Sometime last Elul, Malkie received a phone call from a friend telling her about a kallah in the neighborhood who was due to get married the following week. The kallah had absolutely no money to buy even the most basic essentials to start off her marriage.  She couldn’t even afford a pair of socks.  The chosson came from a complicated background and was likewise unable to contribute to setting up their home.  The couple was in desperate need of help, and with one week to go, there was no time to lose. Malkie considered posting a request for donations to the local n’shei (a group of women who join together with the goal of helping members of the community in matters big and small), but decided against it.  With all the help that the women constantly provided for each other, nobody ever asked for money.  That would be opening up a Pandora’s box that would never close.  Even though Malkie chose not to ask for funds, something niggled at the back of her mind and wouldn’t let her rest.  She really felt badly for the kallah and realized that Hashem had arranged for her to come upon this information for a reason.  She had to try to help her. 

(This article originally appeared in The Jewish Press.)

I’ve always loved roller coasters, although this may not be obvious to my friends and others in my company who see me alight from my vehicle barely able to speak for having lost my voice due to my screaming through the entire ride.  Despite the constant shrieking, I find the nervous anticipation of the slow climbs and the hair-raising terror of the speeding descents absolutely exhilarating. 

The shofar blast on Rosh Chodesh heralds the month of Elul, the period of soul-searching and introspection leading up to the Yamim Nora’im. It serves as a thunderous wake-up call that Rosh HaShanah is quickly approaching.  Do teshuvah! Get your affairs in order!  But at the same time, there has been another low hum reverberating in the air here, which has increased over the last few weeks and has now reached a resounding crescendo: Shmitah is coming! 

Being an astronomy enthusiast, I like to keep track of the evening sky, meteor showers, planet rotation, and the like.  For years I’ve had the wish to travel away from the city to a spot where there is limited light pollution so that I could view the stars and planets under a crisp, clear sky.  However, the members of my family who share many of my interests don’t share the same enthusiasm as I have for this particular hobby.  Somehow, I finally managed to convince my husband and daughter to join me on a Sky Tour in Makhtesh Ramon, the Ramon Crater - one of the best places in the country for stargazing. One of the great things about living in Israel is that in our tiny country we have a considerable variety of climates, topography, and scenery, all within a short distance.  After a quick two-hour drive from our home, we reached the desert.