Thursday, March 10, 2005

Leave the Driving to Us!

Musings #104
March 10, 2005
Erev Rosh Chodesh Adar Bet

“Leave the Driving to Us”

Yes, we don’t have a car. What type of suburban matron am I? Not quite the Long Island type, but this isn’t a sign of “rebellion.” When we made aliyah, soon after our wedding in 1970, cars were the luxury items in Israel, and few people had them.

At the time, I was the only licensed driver of the two of us, and I didn’t enjoy being in the driver’s seat. Public transportation in Israel was perfectly fine, certainly a lot better than driving on Israeli roads, with its totally foreign traffic system and culture. I wasn’t tempted, not even for a second. Add to that my trepidation of dealing with every country’s least trustworthy professionals, in a foreign language, no less; I passed on the opportunity to be dependent on car repairmen.

“Leave your driving to us,” was a popular TV ad when I was a kid, and though nobody can confuse Egged with Greyhound, I got the message. And it’s no secret that I “tremp,” or hitchhike. Really, it’s a lot more fun, convenient, amazing at times, than you can imagine. Of course, sometimes it’s a big time waster, but so are traffic jams. And even more important, there’s a strong spiritual component. Yes, spiritual, and for more than one reason.

The first is the simple one, in that I consider it “The Siyata d’Shmaya--G-d’s Help--Transportation System.” G-d is the sadran, the arranger. I’m repeatedly amazed at His efficiency. On many occasions, frequently after waiting aggravatingly long periods of time for a ride, I end up with someone with whom I needed to speak. And if it’s a sensitive topic, we find ourselves without other passengers; definitely better than a phone call.

Part of our modern mentality is that we believe that we can control things and be in control at all times. Modern technology gives man the feeling that we can reach G-d, construct a tower, cure the incurable and replace the broken. Sometimes we forget that we’re only people.

It’s humbling to travel as I do. I’m at the mercy of others; I’m not in control of anything the minute I leave my home, place of work, or whatever is on my route. I used to be the most hysterical, compulsive person when it came to arriving anyplace on time or catching a bus or train. I drove people crazy with my fear of being late, or missing things.

Living in Shiloh contributed to my change, though it took a lot more than a long time. In the first ten years here, I hardly left to travel anyplace, being the mother of young children, working on the yishuv and restricted by limited transportation. Once my kids got older, I got jobs in Jerusalem and had to travel anyway I could. But still I was very tense and worried.

I only learned to calm down and trust G-d after I survived a terror attack. Suddenly a peace came over me, and I realized that G-d and only G-d is in charge. Less than two months later, I missed being at another terror attack by a fluke. At the community gathering to thank G-d that all of us in the car were saved I was asked to speak. There I was before all my neighbors, including distinguished rabbis, and they wanted to hear my message after being saved twice in a short period of time.

I told them that we shouldn’t waste our requests of G-d on lottery tickets and material things. We must save our luck for more important things, like life.

Next week on the Jewish calendar it will be nine years since the terror attack. It happened on the sixth of Adar, just before Shabbat Zachor, the Shabbat before Purim. On Shabbat Zachor we read a special Maftir, Deuteronomy 25, 17-19 from the Torah and the Haftarah, from First Samuel 15, 1-34.

The message is both simple and timely. We were commanded by G-d to destroy our enemies. The leader of the Jewish People is responsible for the total destruction of our enemies and that includes their property. And if the leader doesn’t fulfill this requirement completely, he will be deposed. These are G-d’s instructions to us for all time.

It is customary for the Maftir to be read according to all the traditional “trops,” or tunes and accents: Ashkenazi, Yemenite, Moroccan, and more. This is to make it clear to all that the mitzvah to eradicate Amalek, our ancient/modern enemy is for all of us, until the job is done.

There are things for us to do, and there are things for G-d to do. Once we understand who’s really in charge, life becomes much better.

Chodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom,

Batya Medad, Shiloh
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