Sunday, February 7, 2010

Amazing, but true.

Yom sheni, 17 Shevat 5770.

Warning:  If you are at all bothered by the concept of G-d taking the time to play with His creatures, this post is not for you.

Over the course of more than twenty years, I have become convinced that Hashem involves Himself in the day-to-day minute details of every life, including my own.

I also believe He has a sense of humor.  And I believe that He takes enjoyment of some sort in teasing His children.

I have been attending a wonderful ulpan called Ulpan La-Inyan for almost two months.  On the first day of class, we encountered several new words to express delight.  One of those words was "מדהים."  Transliterated as "madhim," this word means "amazing."  Great word, no?  Couldn't make it stick in my brain, no matter how hard I tried.  But as I stepped out of my classroom and made my way home via Emek Refaim Street, the word jumped out at me on the side of a truck.
The advertising slogan says: "Amazing what is possible to create from the simple things in life."
Naturally, I wanted to digitally trap this image, to add to my growing collection of Hebrew signs that I can actually understand.  But getting this photo was to be an eight-week obsession -- and I couldn't help but think that Hashem was having a bit of fun with me.

Several times, I could see the truck in the distance, but not close enough to get a good shot.
Or another truck would viciously move into the path between me and my quarry.
There was the day that two of the Strauss trucks went by...  and I couldn't unravel my camera from my handkerchief and keys.  "Two trucks, Hashem?  Do You have to rub it in?"

There was the day that I decided not to take my camera at all, because who wanted to take photos on such  a bad-weather day?  When we arrived at the pharmacy, there was my madhim truck, sitting in the parking lot, just waiting for a photo shoot.  "Thanks, G-d.  I got the message:  carry the camera always."

And there was the day I was on the bus, heading out the front gate of the yishuv, just as you-know-which-truck came in the gate to restock our makolet.  Where it would no doubt be sitting still for several minutes.  But I was on my way to ulpan.  "Thanks, G-d," I murmured.  "I am glad you are paying attention to me."

I discovered that there are plenty of Tenuva trucks on the roadways -- far more than their dairy competitors -- and that they like to sit still and pose for the camera.  But I did not give them the satisfaction.

Finally, I decided to try an end-run.  I pulled up the Strauss site on my computer.

It wasn't as clear and colorful as I might have liked -- but at least it took the edge off of the obsession.

I went back to a more-or-less normal life.  I had to admit that I was grateful to Hashem.  After all, I was so ready to photograph that truck at a second's notice that I got a lot of other interesting shots.  (I plan to show them to you in future posts.)  And with this philosophy, one does feel an intimate connection with one's Creator.  Why wait for illness or tragedy, G-d forbid, to remember that He is there for us?  He is capable of creating connection in myriad ways, after all.  If Hashem is up for a bit of teasing, I'm game.

Like any good father, He knows when the fun's gone on long enough.  Today He presented the prize.


Ulpan: an intensive Hebrew language-immersion course
Madhim: If you don't have this one by now, you weren't paying attention.
Yishuv: small community; settlement
Makolet: small grocery store
Strauss and Tenuva: two competing dairies
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