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And now I'm Jerusalem Stoned. Hee hee.
So I went to the speech, because, you know, night out and some torah thoughts to float around in my cereal-mush-mommy-head. And I came home really disturbed. And not just because I acted on the impulse to jump into the ankle-deep puddle in front of the building (oh, the freedom of giving in to a childish impulse! Oh the joy of a good splash! Oh the greater joy of soaking my sister innocently walking next to me!) but because the message of the speech resonated in me like a lightly applied dentist drill to the tips of my teeth. Or something else that is grating and has an off-key pitch.
He was a good story-teller and told story after story after story. But then he told a story about a great rabbi (no, I don't remember which one. But if you want, I can pull a name out of my Rabbi-Story hat. Chofetz Chaim. There ya go!) who was flying (airplanes...oh...well, I guess I should have a 20-21st century rabbi hat so that my stories make good historical sense) over the Niagra Falls. A talmid called out, "look Rebbe, look!" And he refused to look. He continued looking at his gemara. The talmid said, look Rebbe, look! It's niflaos haborey, the wonders of G-d!" The Rabbi pointed at his sefer and said, "This is niflaos haborey."
Me. No, Likey. And I'll tell you why.
After the speech, I said as such to a friend sitting next to me. She said, "He meant, on your own level, you know." I said, "No, I do not know! I don't think that this is a level to be aspiring to!" She said, "you don't believe that Chofetz Chaim/Rabbi Moshe Feinstien/Rav Sheinberg was a huge tzaddik??"
I said, "I believe (pick a name) was a huge tzaddik. I just don't believe the story."
And it's not possible! Moshe Rabbeinu, Dovid Hamelech, etc, etc, gentle shepherds all, living in nature, gleaning G-dliness from nature. Avraham Avinu, who discovered the entire Torah through nature! How can you close your eyes to it and give over the impression that it's a waste of time?!
And some more ?? and !!
Historically, people living as farmers, surrounded all day by endless land and sea and sky were more G-d-fearing than their city-dwelling cousins. Look at a political map of the US, even today, and realize this phenomenon. The beautiful world around us is created directly from Hashem in the first 6 days of creation! It's a canvas painted just for our human eyes to drink in.
Outdoorsman loves fishing. And I love taking pictures of how he looks knee-deep in clear waters, fly rod in hand. There is something so deeply naturally spiritual about being one with the world, of taking your place in the circle of life. My best shacharis is always after a night of camping under the stars,
There is a story that I like much, much better. Of Reb Zushia (I think. I think it's him. Maybe instead of a hat, I should get a Rabbi-Story database) who wanted to go to Switzerland before he died. When his talmidim asked why, he replied, "because after I die, the Creator of the universe to ask me, 'Zushia, have you seen my Alps?' and I want to answer, 'yes. Mah rabu maasecha Hashem. How wondrous are Your works, oh G-d."
It's 7:30, and the girls are soft and warm and smell like strawberry shampoo. I want to finish our good-night routine quickly, because the play-area looks like someone ate all of the toys and then threw them up in violent, patternless heaves (I think that is the most vile metaphor that I have ever come up with! Yay me!) and the kitchen was dirty from the kids' dinner and spotless from the one I intended to make for Outdoorsman and me.
I tousled the nearest damp head of hair, blew kisses, and edged to the door. Then, from the larger damp head--
"Ima, how do babies get into Imas' bellies?"
So many things flew into my head. A few of them: dinner would be late, and the house woul be messy. And, Princess! You are three! I thought that I had, I dunno, 18 more years or so before I had to answer The Question. And, I better answer her, because my face looks scary right now. Also that I will never be able to calculate square roots in my head, but that doesn't make me any less valuable as a person.
So I said, (truthfully, though kind of leaving out the technical realities,) "G-d puts a tiny tiny seed into the Ima's belly, and it grows into a baby." Then I sat down, because I knew all sorts of questions were going to come exploding out of Princess' inquisitive mind.
"How big is the seed?"
"Does it go in from the front or the back?"
???? "The front."
"Does G-d have to cut the Ima open to put the seed in?"
Ouch. "Nope, it's so tiny, it slips right in!" If she asks through where, and I say through the belly button, does that make me a bad person?--
"And then it gets bigger and bigger?"
Phew. "Yes, it gets bigger and bigger, until its ready to come out."
"Oh!" She sits up in bed, and grabs my hand. "That's why I have to eat good food with protien, so that I will get big and have a baby inside my belly, and then the baby could get bigger and bigger?"
Good explanation as any. "Uh huh!"
She's quiet. Then, "Does uh huh mean yes?"
"Uh huh. I mean, yes."
"Then I will go to the hospital and they will name my baby? When I am big and old and full of baby?"
"No, Princess, you name the baby all by yourself."
"Ima!" She is wide-eyed, and squeezes my hand. "You have to help me!"
"Oh, Princess." I feel my eyes filling with tears. "I'll help you however I can."
I hug her, and lie her back down, first turning her pillow over to the dry, cool side. Then I give her a kiss on her forehead, and head for the door. The kitchen is beckoning.
"Ima, how old will I be when you stop being my Ima?"
In two steps, I cross back over to her bed. (Not really an accomplishment; the room is the size of a larg-ish shower stall.)
"I will never be old enough to be too old to be your Ima."
A complicated sentence, but she gets it.
I get it, too.
I need to sit on their beds, hold them tight, read to them, listen to them. Dinners and clean living rooms are not the things that will be remembered.
I was cleaning up after dinner, virtuously ignoring the siren call of the computer with it's shiny, shiny buttons and many, many functions. I thought that I should wipe the fridge down; then I put that thought in a mental file marked "Pesach." Dishes couldn't wait that long, so I started on those. Hands in suds, my thoughts drifted, as they tend to do these days, to the the soldier that my husband and I are praying for. He became critically inured 2 days after we started having him in mind every day, and the war just became so much more real and horrifying to us. And how we both feel that we should have been praying harder, we should have been praying more. Then I felt the waistband of my skirt digging into my skin and I knew that when I took it off I would see those evil red lines and I thought with a surge of misery that no matter how carefully I eat and no matter how much I run, I will never ever get my metobalism and my figure back to the way it was before Coco-pop and Princess were born.
Yeah. It took me a second to be horrified, too.
Sometimes, I even believe that I'll think about my body less when I lose twenty pounds. That's how AWESOME my power of lying to myself is. I will also be a more patient mother, loving wife, and even a better babysitter. I will be able to daven better, live better, love better, laugh better.
I can justify it a bit. Even at my thinnest (when my doctor informed me that I was accepted to a half-day hospital for eating disorders, and I informed her that X calories a day was ALL I could EAT without CHOKING on the TREMENDOUS amount of food ) it was ridiculously hard for me to find clothing that fits me well. I am tall, with broad shoulders and hips. That's how my bones are built. I didn't believe it, so I checked. Then I went to a wonderful seminary and learned and internalized all about G-d and love and you are worth so much more than just a body and a pretty face and I tucked my bones back in under a layer of flesh. Then I got married and had a couple of the cutest babies in the whole world, and tucked in my bones a little more. Apparently, as my mother almost triumphantly informs me, the metabolism doesn't like being starved into complacency for a few years, and this is it's way of PAYING ME BACK.
But back to my bones and the way that I am built. Apparently, all Jewish religious girls are 5"4 and hip-less. Except me. At least, that's what all the skirts that I try on seem to be telling me. I carry stacks and stacks of clothing--in my size--to the dressing room, and leave empty-handed and in tears. And it's really not good for me to feel not good about me. Because then I want to not eat ever ever again and eat a whole chocolate cake with mint frosting. At the same time.
Ironically, I look totally amazing in jeans. (So it makes sense that we're not allowed to wear pants.)
I feel like when I feel good about how I look again, then I can proclaim myself a maccabi, fighting against the greek ideals of physical beauty and perfection of form. Isn't that the most ridiculous thing? I even know where it came from. I'm sure that you do, too. Have you ever noticed that from cartoons all the way through to "serious" films, the good guys are beautiful graceful and the bad guys are ugly and goofy? The good guy can only have a soul-searching if the wind is blowing through his/her hair and his/her eyes are bright and skin clear. I can talk about this for hours, and get even deeper into this topic, but my point is--somewhere deep within me, I truly feel that to be at peace with the physical, I have to look good while proclaiming that I am above it.
A good entry or short story swings around to the original first paragraph and makes the whole piece come full circle. But I am feeling too shallow right now to talk about the the soldier, the young man, the boy, who protected us all, and is now fighting for his life. Please, pray for the soldiers. I got to get back to my dishes. Although, you know, Pesach is just around the corner...