Today is my first Friday morning in Israel. That’s not saying too much, considering that I’ve been here for all of 3 mornings, but it still feels significant. For one thing, I slept for over 10 hours straight last night. Oops.
Tonight is shabbat. Tomorrow is shabbat. Sunday morning, school begins in earnest. Here in Jerusalem, the weekend is really Friday/Saturday. Sunday is יום רישון – Yom Rishon- First Day. It’s a rhythm I’ll need to get used to, a rhythm that lines up wonderfully with Torah’s view of the days of the week and that lines up completely differently from the USA’s view of the days of the week. To be fair, I have a little practice, because rabbinical school is sometimes in the middle. My first year at RRC, I had Fridays off but taught Hebrew School on Sunday mornings. I lived in two calendars, in that sense, melding weekend vibes with the workday grind and vice versa. Here in Jerusalem, however, shabbat is most definitely shabbat. I’m excited to experience it.
During my last week in the states, I put out a call for 40 blessings, one for each week that I would be spending here in Israel. It seems like I confused some folks, who thought that I meant a religious, deep, personal prayer. While those are certainly welcome, I really meant any kind of blessing at all– a well-wish of sorts, a reminder of home, whatever! Something like “Eat lots of falafel!” would suffice. 🙂 In any case, I have not gotten 40 blessings yet, but I have received some, and they are lovely. I’ve decided to make Friday morning blessing time, and, just for fun, I’m going to post the blessings in the order in which I received them.
This first one comes from a classmate at RRC, and it does seem entirely appropriate for this first week here:
May you find yourself lost in a country of awe and wonder and may you soak up the generosity of those who help you on your path.
I have already had opportunity to soak up this blessing. Tonight I’ll be going to a classmate’s home for shabbat dinner. I’m pretty shy around new people and places, and as of yesterday I had no shabbat plans whatsoever except to try to work up the nerve to go to services somewhere on my own. At the end of the day, a classmate I had known for all of 30 hours stood up and announced that he and his partner would be happy to host anybody who didn’t have plans for shabbat dinner. I walked over to him, along with a few others, and said I’d love to come. To be honest, I’m still a little nervous, because most of the guests know each other already, but I am attempting to soak up the generosity that is offered and to take advantage of being in this place.
On the flip side of this experience is one that I had my second night here, when I ventured into a grocery store for the first time. I felt more or less illiterate as I wandered the aisles searching for some basics. Some labels had English but many did not, and my food vocabulary is not the best. As I managed to find what I needed, sort of, an older man came up to me and asked in a clearly American accent if I spoke English. It turned out that he and his family were visiting and needed to purchase parve or dairy soup. Like I said, my food vocabulary is not the best, but as I studied the various soup options with them, I realized that they were all labeled “meat” or “parve” in Hebrew. I was able to help them pick out a few parve options and remind myself that, even though there is so very, very much that I do not know, I am not entirely helpless. Perhaps the American visitors thought that I was being generous with my time, but their generosity in allowing me to recognize the (tiny though it is) amount of knowledge that I possess was an incredible gift of its own.
Shabbat Shalom. Thanks for journeying with me.