Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Road Signs and Not Giving Up

I've had a very difficult time finding a job. This has had its effect on my relations with friends and family. I've become more irritable. I've noticed that my irritability has taken a toll on relations with my closest friends; it hasn't spread farther out into the spectrum of people I either hardly know or don't know at all. This always seems to be the case and I believe this is in accordance to human nature.

I've had messengers and road signs sent my way "telling" me not to give up and to keep on pursuing my goals. These have come in the form of people not getting mad at me, of me making new, unanticipated friends in places where I would have never expected to have met them, of amazing people suddenly appearing in my life. In general, I've been extremely privileged: to be living in Israel, to have two wonderful parents, and three amazing grandparents, to have a large number of caring friends, and most of all, to be alive! All too often, I've taken these gifts for granted, but I realize that I need to continue reminding myself of just how privileged I am.

A few Shabbatot ago, my dear friend, rabbi, and mentor whom I met while livng in Ramat Hasharon during the hardest period of my life, told his yeshiva students about the "road signs" he'd seen when first coming to Ramat Hasharon from Beit-El. He'd left Beit-El, the site of Jacob's dream, and one of the holiest sites in Judaism, to resettle with his young family in a neighborhood of Tel-Aviv where religious life had been, up till now, either not very previlent or simply unheard of. As he sat there, he revisited his (and my) past in a calm, collected voice that's so telling of the immense person he is.

He told them of how after they'd come to Ramat Hasharon and were about to sign the lease on an apartment in Morasha, the land lady asked him and his wife whether they had come there to "spread Judaism." This was after she'd related to them how her sister had been elected to the Knesset having run on the Shinui (virulent anti-religious party that has since disappeared) ballot. My Rabbi gathered his strength and decided he'd tell her the truth.

"Yes, we moved here to spread Judaism" was his answer. You can imagine his utter disbelief when the landlord replied that she was proud of them for taking on this mission and that the State of Israel needed more dedicated individuals like them; that her sister actually studied Torah at times.

He also told his students, who sat there with their mouths agog, how he'd met "Eitan" his first day in Ramat Hasharon (nodding to me), and how I'd helped him carry his second son, Y, then a toddler, up the stairs of our apartment building in a baby carriage, how I'd offered him my friendship, and how I'd been the first to begin studying Torah with him. "These," he said, were his "road signs." He'd left the only home he'd known up till now to travel to a strange place. Yes, this was the country he knew and loved, but Tel-Aviv is no Beit-El.

I've had many people "show me the way" and this post is dedicated to my best friend, A.D., my mentor A.T. and my Ramat Hasharon friend and Rabbi, A.A. May their acts of kindness be a merit for the coming redemption.

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