empty Slice of Life

Never Too Late

Beit Shemesh is a frequent destination for many who make aliyah to Israel. But this past summer,...

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As we get deeper into the coronavirus crisis, I’m finding these articles increasingly difficult to write. Who can sit and write during a time like this? Who can even sit? I find myself flitting around my house from one activity to another, my mind racing from one thought to the next at lightning speed. As one day blends into the next, I even lose track of time. What can I write? So many people are sick and dying. So many tragedies. So much suffering and fear. I’ve written about subjective fear in these pages in the past, but I don’t believe there is anybody on this earth who would not agree that these are terrifying times. I can barely look at the news, particularly the news coming out of New York. I hear what is going on in our communities and I want to run away. I am worried about friends, family, our communities, and all of mankind. I contact my friends with trepidation. So many of them have the virus or have family members who have it. My T’hilim list grows and grows.

In the olden days of several weeks ago, I used to take a daily power walk around the main street of Ramat Beit Shemesh Alef. I was always struck by the fact that people living in the same community and walking down the same street can be living in extremely different realities. One person may be shopping for food to serve at a sheva brachos, while another may have just gotten up from shiv’ah. One may be coming from a home filled with excitement due to an upcoming wedding, while another comes from a more somber home dealing with the illness of a loved one. All these realities converge on the street as each person goes about his business. People simultaneously move around in the bubbles of their lives. At times, one bubble will bump into another. While our inner worlds may look drastically different, it may not seem obvious, since on an external level we all have to do the activities that all people must do in order to function.

These are challenging times. We are all in the trenches of something that we’ve never ever seen the likes of. And so many things are happening at the same time, things moving so quickly, that it’s hard to keep up. Here in Israel, we’ve experienced a hurricane with unprecedented winds that knocked down trees and caused power outages. It looked like the world was coming to an end. But that was last week. Old news. And, of course, it goes without saying that we have the usual politics here. My kids have begged me to stop listening to the news in the hopes that I will stop screaming. But nothing is on the minds of people anywhere nearly as much as the coronavirus. Luckily, the powers that be in this country took the threat very seriously immediately. But it took time for that awareness to filter down to the rest of us regular people. But we are catching up. And fast.

My family likes to travel. We love basking in the beauty of breathtaking scenery, as well as meeting frum Jews wherever we can find them. It’s an expensive hobby, so we try to keep costs down where we can. We book the cheapest flights possible, often with one or more stopovers, and we happily volunteer to be bumped from our flights when our schedules permit. We don’t order seats, and we take a minimal amount of baggage so as not to incur additional fees. Our accommodations are not usually of the highest standards, and our family subsists mainly on peanut butter and tuna sandwiches. We view ourselves as simple people with a strong desire to broaden ourselves and see the world.

 When I got married, I didn’t have a whole lot of kitchen experience. As a matter of fact, when I was a child, I believed that when girls got married, they would wake up the next morning and magically know how to cook. Well, alas! Such is not the case.

I’m trying. Really! I am! But it is difficult for me. My father was the gadget king. He bought every new technological piece of equipment as soon as it hit the market, especially when it came to recording devices, which he used to tape (record in old jargon) every shiur ever given. He figured out how to use them with ease and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of tinkering with them. I did not inherit this gene, not even recessively. I would call myself technologically challenged. I’m always trying to keep up, but since this doesn’t come to me naturally, by the time I get it, all that I’ve learned becomes outdated. I understand that along with progress comes improved efficiency, but that’s only when things work as they should and one understands how they work, which I often don’t. Children seem to be born with this knowledge, and I imagine the day when newborns will be able to request full service from their mothers with the swipe of a finger. They will be able to place orders with Amazon in utero, with free shipping for waterproof products costing over $50. Even though I am challenged, I continue to persevere.