Because that’s what goes on in my life as a seminary girl in Israel, you know…. 😉
Chesed, of course, referring the “Cohen” family that I help out on Thursday afternoons…the word is loosely translated as “good deeds” or some such.
Simcha meaning happiness, joy, etc.
Zechus meaning merit/good fortune.
Anyway, so I thought I’d start out by talking about my weekly excursion to Chez Cohen…or Beit Cohen as we’d call it in Hebrew. Lately, she’s just had me doing stuff around the house…hanging wet laundry and peeling vegetables and breading chicken for schnitzel, stuff like that. It’s fairly mindless work, and she’s really, really grateful that I’m doing it, because it bores the average person out of their mind and takes up a good chunk of time too…but I’m both introverted enough and imaginative enough that I actually enjoy that kind of thing…my hands doing something automatically while my mind goes to who-knows-where. Totally doesn’t feel like a chore at all, but I’m sure glad it’s so much help to the Cohens!
Today, though, deviated from that routine. I hung out laundry and started to peel potatoes, as usual, and then Sophie, the two-year-old came over to ask me her usual litany of questions, most starting with “why?”
“Because your mommy asked me to.”
“So she can cook them for your Shabbos lunch.”
“Because they taste good. See, now I’m going to cut them.”
“I peel, you cut!” she says, grabbing the peeler when I put it down to cut a newly-peeled potato.
Oooookay. I figure the peeler is safe enough for her. At least she hadn’t asked to use the knife, which of course I would have refused. She did a remarkably good job on her potato, while I peeled the other ones (slowed down by the fact that she’d stolen my peeler 😉 but knives work okay for that purpose too), and then I got started breading chicken. That was where havoc broke out…both girls wanted to touch/play with the raw chicken (ewww), and their mother and I were not so keen on this idea, but the two-year-old was content to help me dump crumbs onto the chicken pieces while her older sister threw a tantrum over not being allowed to play with the chicken…sigh. Eventually Sally, the older girl, calmed down and switched places with her sister, and between us, the girls and I made two different kinds of breaded chicken…as well as a huge mess! It was really fun for all involved, though, even if it did mean I got a lot less work done over there than I usually do.
Simcha? Sigh…we’re supposed to “Ivdu et Hashem b’simcha”…serve G-d with joy”…and I try to make that my motto, but I must admit to having a harder time than usual with that this past week. Not that anything is terribly wrong, G-d forbid, but…I feel like my classes were out of sorts and not with it. My roommate, who is also my learning partner in the morning, is out of the country this week and next, visiting her family. That means I’m minus a learning partner and have to crash somebody else’s learning and make it a threesome, or else I learn with a part-time student or a newbie who is only checking out classes and not even registered yet and have to spend all my time explaining to them what’s going on, which…really just messes up the routine of things, you know? Especially when I’m learning with a different pair every day, and several of the girls come late every single day, and this week I’ve been guilty of it as well, knowing that I don’t have a partner who’s depending on me.
Sigh. I’ll be better next week, but I really miss my learning partner. We had a good thing going.
And it’s kind of the above morose thoughts that lead to my next topic…that of “zechus” (or “zechut” if you speak modern Hebrew 😉 ). It’s a huge privilege to be able to live in G-d’s holy land (hmm, privilege, maybe that’s a better way to translate zechus)…but as we all know, with great privilege comes great responsibility. They say that every four amos is a mitzvah in Israel…meaning that even walking…I think four amos converts to around six feet…so every few steps is another mitzvah. And each mitzvah is supposedly that much more precious because it’s done in G-d’s land. But, by the same token, transgressions are that much worse. The parable used to illustrate this point is, if you’re a peasant and you do a crime on some far-off border of the country, it’s not as big a deal as if you were have the gall to go into the King’s palace and commit a crime right there. By being in Israel, we’re in the king’s palace, and every sin we do is much more terrible than if we were to do the same thing outside of the Land. And I just…wonder sometimes if I am good enough to really be worthy of living here.
(I suppose this is, at least in part, my “Jewish guilt” talking. And please, nobody comment on this just to tell me how wonderful I am and why I am worthy of Israel or whatever…I am NOT fishing for compliments, that’s really not the point of this last paragraph, and it won’t help anything anyway….)
Meh. On a happier note, happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends (we don’t celebrate it here, unfortunately. My first turkey-free Thanksgiving! This is sad….), and good Shabbos to all my Jewish friends, and have a good weekend to all my non-Jewish friends. I’m going to Ramat Beit Shemesh for Shabbos, and really looking forward to meeting people there.