Thursday, December 16, 2010

A little nostalgia; a taste of Armageddon

I only moved here 3 months ago, so I don't have much to compare it to-- is this place always crazy?!?!
With everything else we are dealing with here, whodda thunk we'd experience the most massive forest fire in the country's history?  And whodda thunk that Rav Ovadia Yosef would attribute it to people not lighting Shabbat candles?  (OK, maybe that one could have been predicted...)  Then we get a warning of a massive storm (A "sufa," which I know from my college Hebrew production of The Wizard of Oz means a tornado, but it turns out that it can just mean a very windy storm), so we prepare the balcony and unplug the computers (as advised), but last night, it literally felt like Armageddon.  Not that Armageddon would wake me (anyone out there remember when I was fired from my volunteer duty as fire captain of my suite in college because the fire alarms never woke me?), but it woke my daughter, apparently because the light went out in her room, so we were without power at I have no idea what hour in the morning (it was after 3:00, because our dishwasher, which was set to go off at 1:00, ran properly-- our little "Shabbes miracle") and we lay there listening to the howling outside and waiting for the roof to blow off or the whole house to get thrown.  It was SOOOO LOUD!!!  I stepped outside to see what it felt like.  It wasn't cold and there was no rain.  I don't even think the sky was particularly cloudy.  But I came back in for fear of being blown away (it was mostly Tali's fear.  I actually loved the feel of it).  At some point Tali was so hysterical that Ross woke enough to point out the thing about it not being a tornado. 
We woke up without power, to discover that we were the only house on the kibbutz who lost it (our downstairs neighbors lost it too).  Then today was howling winds and intermittent downpours.  I could say that that made me nostalgic about Vancouver, but I hadn't thought of that until friends pointed it out-- the friends who let us heat our food on their warming tray.  The nostalgia was more about the power loss.  In Baltimore, we would lose power whenever someone sneezed too hard.  And of course there was the unforgettable night when our whole little BT ghetto (the 4 BT houses at the end of the block) lost power in the second massive snow storm in a row and we gathered in the Dennens kitchen because she was the one with the gas stove (we have a gas stove now!!!).  And Brandon, a maintenance guy who they asked to sleep overnight at the school in  case a pipe broke like it had in the last storm, knowing that the news was predicting that the city would be immomilized by the morning and he would be trapped, joined us for soup, fried potatoes and monopoly.  We had that same feeling of, this time the power will go out and no one will be able to get here to fix it.  Indeed, we had no idea how it works here.  Would we call an electric company who would drive all the way up the mountain?  Would they do that in the storm?  And we still had Shabbat to get through first.  But just before Shabbat was over, I ran into the guy who does electric stuff here (like he installed our A/C and fixed our Shababt clock) told us he would take care of it, but he said it with a shrug, saying that of course he couldn't climb the pole in the storm.  And the storm is supposed to last till Monday!!!  So we went to shul for Havdallah, came home, I started heating soup on our GAS STOVE, and before it was warm, the lights came on.  Bless that guy's heart!
Things had been so politically and religiously volatile since we got here, but suddenly it was all very visceral.  In uncertain times such as these, they say we are supposed to look inward (do heshbon nefesh), but the Rabbinic establishment is saying the problem is that people aren't lighting Shabbat candles, and the other rabbis are saying it's because the Rabbinic establishment is so obsessed with Shabbat candles, and more to the point, with deligitimating conversions and failing to solve the agunah crisis and declaring it's forbidden to sell homes to non-Jews.   Rav Yoel Bin-Nun just wrote a scathing article against the Rabbis, starting with attacking them for not taking a more proactive role regarding the fire, but moving on to slam their for their inability to handle the conversion crisis or to solve the agunah crisis (pointing out that Rav Ovadia Yosef was able to halachically "free" the wives of a whole submarine-ful of people (the Dakkar) who sunk and whose deaths couldn't be confirmed).  He claimed that the Rabbis have been irrelevant to the people since they failed to council people to get out of Europe as fast as possible before the Holocaust.  He praised Netanyahu for his handling of the fire crisis, and his mobilizing of the international community, and said that we must make our decisions with the democratic people, because the rabbis have proven themselves untrustworthy and ineffectual.  (If I misrepresented any of what he said, please feel free to correct me and I'll pass it along to the group, but I'm pretty sure that's the gist.  I do wish everyone would stop writing everything in Hebrew around here, though...).  Is the Rabbinic establishment going to collapse?  I mean, I can't see how it could go on much longer like this, but it feels like it's around the corner.  But I suppose it may have felt this way years ago with other issues.  What do I know?
In other news, I went with Adin to his little parasha (Torah) class for 5-6 year olds this morning, and the dad (it rotates people's houses) was reviewing with them the story of Joseph, and he got to the part where they throw him in a pit, and one girl called out "but he didn't die!" and the father pedagogically repeated her statement back, "Really?  He didn't die?" and she responded, "At least not in the movie!"
With that little word of Torah, I will conclude here, and wish everyone a terrific week, full of health, happiness, and meaning.

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