Saturday, November 6, 2004

Unplanned Day

Musings #81
November 4, ‏2004
20th of Cheshvan

Unplanned Day

The “un” in the “unplanned” of my title is like the “un” in to unravel, meaning my day was planned; it had been planned. It’s just that some how, nothing happened the way had I planned it.

I had planned on going to Beit El to teach, then take a bus from there to a wedding and then home to Shiloh. Everything was ready. Shabbat food was cooked, my clothes, hat, jewelry were waiting to be put on for the teaching, traveling and celebrating, and then my plans just began to… unravel.

First I was given a surprise day off from work. Usually, especially on a Thursday, I’m even happier than my students at such news. This week I realized that the good news would mean changes in plans, I’d have to catch the bus to the wedding in Shiloh. I wasn’t worried, since I had been told that it was on the route. I’m rather neurotic about these things, so I started making a few phone calls and discovered that it wasn’t going this way, and I had no means of transportation. The neighbor who confirmed it reminded me that today was my friend Rachella Druk’s azkara, memorial ceremony at the cemetery.

Thirteen years since Rachella was murdered, and ever since I got this teaching job I had missed every memorial. The fog began to lift; it was all getting clearer. Appaarently, G-d wanted me at Rachella’s grave, to see Rachella’s parents, children and grandchildren. Five of her six daughters had been students of mine when I was a gym teacher. I had once known them all very well. Thirteen years after her murder, her husband recently married, and they don’t live here any more.

The cemetery was full. Thirteen years later, Rachella’s friends and family still show up. The pain is as sharp as it was then. What amazed me were the local kids who could hardly have known her. They, too were there. It reminded me of her funeral. There wasn’t a cemetery in Shiloh until hours after her murder. Hundreds, or maybe thousands, stood on the mountain side, surrounding her raw, fresh grave. Looking further up the mountain, we could see lots of young children, deemed too young to attend, watching everything. How could they have been too young, when some of the mourning children were even younger?

Afterwards I was told that there was to be a shiur, class for women, in her memory. I knew I had to go. Amazing, the second time in a month I found my plans changed to allow me to go to the grave and shiur in memory of friends. It never occurred to me to ask my boss to allow me to take off from work for memorials; maybe I should.


Today all you hear on the news is: “Is Yasser alive or dead?” “He’s not dead, but he’s not alive.” “When?” “Who will take over?” The Arutz 7 site seemed to be crashing from the volume of hits.

And imagine what the shiur was about, the shiur in memory of Rachella, one of the first terror victims of a shooting attack? This week’s Haftara, the part of the Bible, generally from Prophets or “Writings,” said each Shabbat. This week, l’haavdil, to differentiate, it’s about King David, old and dying and the competition to succeed him.

In Melachim alef, Kings I, a very pathetic scene is drawn. An old feeble king lies cold in bed, not even responding to a lovely young maiden. At the same time, unknown to him, one of his sons has announced to one and all that he’s the king now.

Then in walks his wife, the grand passion of his life, the one with whom he had scandalized the entire nation, Batsheva. To this day, thousands of years later, people still talk and write about this romance, how the king, David, sent her husband to his death, so that she would be free to marry him. Once, they had risked everything for each other. Batsheva began to talk and King David listened.

Batsheva reminded King David that he had sworn that their son, Shlomo, Solomon, would be king after him. She told him what his staff wasn’t saying to him, that his son, Adoniya, had announced himself king, and he, King David, hadn’t the foggiest idea of what was happening, at all.

Anyone who thinks that politics is new, modern, has never read the Bible. Even her entrance was choreographed and masterminded by Natan, the Prophet. And it worked. King David perked up and managed to pass the reins to his young son, Solomon.

In Israel, today, we’re also waiting for new leadership, but we don’t have a king like David to appoint a new leader.

The politicians in power have their plans, but they are very dangerous ones. G-d willing they will unravel, “unplan.” And we will continue to build our wonderful country, but without these horrible threats hanging over us.

I’m sorry that I missed what I am sure was a beautiful and joyous wedding, but apparently I was supposed to be someplace else. Apologies to King Solomon:
There’s a time to dance and a time to mourn,
And a time to sing and a time to learn
And a time to travel and a time to stay home
And a time to plan and a time to follow……

Batya Medad, Shiloh

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