Sunday, September 25, 2005

Only in Israel, Ellul Special

There's nothing like the weekly sports roundup to show what it's like to be a "man" in Israel. Over a year ago, I was impressed by the announcer's "3 week beard," which appeared on the kippah-wearing one during the 3 weeks. That's the time of the year between the 17th of Tammuz and 9th of Av, when Jews mourn the destructions of the Holy Temples. One of the Jewish Laws of Mourning is that it's forbidden to cut hair, which includes shaving. Also, it's very common for Israeli men, even those not normally considered "religious" to follow the 30 law not to shave after the death of a close relative. This includes politicians and media stars.

A couple of years ago, the tv feature about the head Israeli basketball coach opened with his dovening, praying, wrapped in his T'fillin. Many of prominent Israeli men, including world famous actor, Chaim Topol, are very proud to let people know that their days begin with morning prayers and T'fillin.

The other night there was an item on tv about how the "in thing" for those looking for a great spiritual experience is to go to a certain Sepharadi synagogue for midnight or pre-dawn "Slichot" prayers. I discussed this with a neighbor who said that it really is intense, even addictive, in a sense. That's why the shuls, (ok, funny to use the Yiddish work for a North-African synagogue,) are full every night for the month of Ellul, which leads up to Rosh Hashnnah.

And finally, last night's bit of inspiration for sports fans. It's well-known in Israel that many people are finding G-d, becoming Torah observant Jews. That includes, not only "ordinary people of all walks of life," but famous and successful actors and athletes. Last night they showed the highlights of a soccer match between the now religious athletes and others; I didn't catch whom they were playing. I'm also not familiar enough with the players to have caught their names, sorry. The emphasis was on how the sportsmen feel today, when the Beit Medrash, Torah Study Hall, has replaced the soccer field. They all stressed how much happier they are. One said: "I had everything material, but I had nothing. Now my life is so much fuller."

One of the best things about this crop of Chozrei B'Tshuva, Returnees to the Faith, is that they are comfortable with their past and present. In the earlier days, 30-40 years ago, of this "trend," newly observant Jews were encouraged to totally turn their backs on their past, not only the sinful habits, but their friends and professions. Now, more and more people are integrating all of aspects of their lives.

Shanah Tovah!


Esther said...

Very interesting!

Batya said...

There's a lot going on here. It's mind-boggling. And also reinforces our faith.

Unknown said...

This post has been included in Haveil Havalim #39, hosted by SerandEz - take a few minutes and check what it says. Shana Tova!