Thursday, March 18, 2010

Chez Mizrachi Cleans for Pesach -- Recruits Youth

Yom shishi, 4 Nisan 5770.

I have so much to do.  There is no time to write.  But I really miss this blog -- and I miss talking to you!

So, this will be brief, and to the point.  (Let's face it:  you don't have any more excess time than I do, right?)

How could I possibly get the place cleaned for Pesach without the assistance of my dear sons?

And a short reminder of what is really sababa about living in Israel (because you expect this of me):

This holy book store / music store is in the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem.  The sign says "Great joy, great joy, Spring has arrived, Pesach is coming."  The part of me that enjoys a sense of family, that likes belonging to a large club of like-minded people, is very happy.

Let's take a brief stroll through Yerushalayim together.  There are a few sights I want to share with you.

I know they make caffè latte elsewhere in the world.  But in Israel, "Hafuch" rates as the national beverage -- and as a comment on the national character.  Life may be a little "upside-down" here.  Yihiyeh besder...

Yerushalyaim is The City of Fundraising, to put it gently.  Eventually, everyone has favorite tzedaka collectors.  One of mine is David Hamevorach.  David has a great story.  He used to be an architect in Zurich, Switzerland.  He even helped to make some buildings grow in Tel Aviv.  One day, according to David, he discovered that while he was fabulously successful, he was "soul-less."  He left the slam-bang world of architectural success, moved to Jerusalem, and started to sell his paintings in a small art gallery near the Central Bus Station.

In the Holy City, David was moderately successful as a painter -- but more importantly, he was finding his soul.  He discovered that those buildings hadn't gone up "by my might, and the strength of my hand."  Rather, they were miracles of Hashem.

One Purim, he decided to put his works on display in Ben Yehuda, spicing up the event with a washing cup to collect coins, a child's tambourine, and his own joyful Moshiach-oriented songs, electronically amplified.  People not only forked over some reasonable cash -- he was also repeatedly asked for blessings "by people who thought the gray beard made me look wise.  I'm not a rabbi," he told them.  But that didn't matter.  They wanted his brachot (blessings).  So, why not?  He dispensed brachot, and felt very good about himself and what he was doing with his time.  He kept up this gig.  After a while, grateful "clients" would come back, telling him that his brachot had been successful.

David gave me directions to the gallery to see his art.  "We will come," I said, "but only if it will not be 'ganeivat da'at.'  We don't have money to buy paintings."

"Chas v'shalom!" cried David.  "I don't want you to buy my paintings!  I just want you to see them.  These days," he said, looking Heavenward, "Hashem clearly takes care of all of my needs."  Then he closed our conversation as he always does:  "When you smile for Hashem, you will always be happy."

Enjoy the spirituality of your Pesach preparations.  Enjoy Pesach.  I heard once that if you do nothing else, try to connect to gratitude at the culmination of the Seder.  According to Rabbi Lawrence Kelemen, this act can transport you to higher madreigot than you have ever reached spiritually.

When you smile for Hashem, you will always be happy.

This is my bracha for you.

Pesach:  Passover
Sababa: great, cool
Hafuch: literally "upside down" -- the Israeli name for caffè latte
Yihiyeh beseder: It will be okay.  This is THE Israeli slogan.  It probably keeps us from going insane.
Tzedaka: charity
Moshiach: Messiah
Brachot: blessings
Ganeivat da'at: literally "stealing the mind" -- a Jewish law prohibiting one from leading a merchant to believe one is interested in buying his wares, if he is in fact totally disinterested
Chas v'shalom!: Heaven forbid!
Madreigot: steps, levels, a really great Jewish spiritual rock band
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