While I generally like to write a few times a week, this week has been particularly busy for me therefore giving me less of a chance to write. BUT, it won't stop me on Erev Shabbat before we leave for Yerushalayim (see below).
I found the fast of Tzom Gedalia much easier than I expected. I think that this is mostly due to the amount of food that I consumed on Rosh Hashana and the "stored-up feature" the body is blessed with. I am indeed sorry for what happened to Gedaliah ben Achikam (See Melachim II/Kings II, Chapter 25) and his murder, but I must admit that it is indeed quite convenient to have a fast day right after Rosh Hashana and all of its meals!
After spending a very productive day in the office on Tuesday, we all had a wonderful experience on Wednesday. One of the (many) perks of living in Maale Adumim is that it is one of the few communities in Israel where the government provides additional funding for programs for Olim. This program falls under the title of Community Aliyah Program. As such, we are entitled to a few extras that some new Olim do not receive. One of those special events was this Wednesday evening. A group of over 40 people (members of every family that made Aliya this summer to MA) went to Eretz Breisheet (http://www.genesisland.co.il/) Here we travelled back in time to the time of Avraham Avinu and his servant Eliezer. We (when I say "we" I mean the rest of the group!!) travelled on camels, had a sumptuous meal sitting on the ground, and enjoyed the GLORIOUS evening and the mountainous view. While I had been here many times and knew the one that runs the place, it was my first time here as an Oleh. It SO felt like I was there with a group, but the best part was that at the end of the evening, we went HOME and not to a hotel!
Yesterday was an all-day day in Yerushalayim...My cousin is celebrating his bar Mitzva this Shabbat in Yerushalayim (where we are all headed soon) and he put on his tefillin for the first time, read the Torah and served up a wonderful breakfast. (In addition, I have yet a SECOND cousin who is ALSO celebrating his Bar Mitzva this Shabbat in Yerushalayim also. We will B"H be attending bot the Bar Miztva of Ari Posner and that of Nachman Sharp) That was the first of seven stops that day in Yerushalayim...along the way, I needed to get going on a brochure for the business I represent (www.tlalimgroup.com) so I had to visit the printer I was suggested to use. (Having been in the area of Purchasing for 17 years, and having quoted printing before many times, and having dealt with so many printers, it was SO awesome to sit and deal with a woman who was a frum person, whose computer screen displayed a picture of her 3 daughters (triplets) all dressed for Shabbat. What a difference!) I met with an old friend (Ron Allswang...not so old...just we know each other a long time!); I also spent some significant time at AACI (Association for Americans and Canadians in Israel) and got some great suggestions for the tour business I am in. While I was there, I was introduced to someone with whom I will be doing something quite different next week (and potentially for the weeks after as well). Once this comes to fruition, I will let you know (and you will be able to participate as well...a little mystery never hurt anyone!)
So, now it is time to get ready for Shabbat and get to Yerushalayim. One thing that I noticed this morning. All along, people have been asking me how this time of year has felt compared to when I was in Chicago in my role as a rabbi. I think that this morning, I was able to identify one way it was definitely different: the Aseret Yemai Teshuva (Ten Days of Repentance) do not feel as intense as they have the past 10 years. First of all, that is not because they are any less important. The reason, I think, is due to the fact that I am not spending day and night working on speeches, dealing with the day-to-day issues of prep for Yom Tov in the Shul and not in classroom teaching about the Chagim. All this tells me is that I best get out my copy of Messilat Yesharim and get busy!
I don't know if I will have a chance to write before Yom Kippur or not so I will wish all of you an easy fast. Actually, while the FAST should be easy, that should be the ONLY easy part of the day! Remember that Tefilla (prayer) is called Avoda She'b'lev which means "Heart Work." But I prefer to think of it also as "Hard Work." A suggestion...before Yom Kippur, open your Machzor and pick ONE section that you review and think about before you walk into the Shul for the Yom HaKadosh. Certainly, 99.99999% of people do not understand all that is said on Yom Kippur and reviewing even some of the tefillot in advance is advantageous. A good place to start is probably the Viudi/Confessional. After all, if you do not understand it, then what good is it doing you!?!?
Ketiva Va'chatima Tova!
(PS--This greeting is on the electronic banner/sign of every bus in Yerushalayim!)