On The Road... to Yud Aleph Nissan.. to Pesach and the Hurricane Season of 2006
Great Article I found online. I knew if I kept looking I'd find one that best demonstrated our lives down South in Hurricane Country as Purim fades away and Pesach cleaning discovers those hidden lost candy wrappers from Shalachmonis... Chabad of NOLA... and their Purim Celebration in New Orleans.
Purim on the Blue Roof - 2006 (great pics of Purim in New Orleans)
Otherwise known as... Life Goes On... Hurricanes or not...
How do I explain to people up north and over seas that in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisianna..nothing is normal yet.
Passover is around the corner... can the Hurricane Season be far away?
Down south we don't have real seasons of the climatological kind.. and if we are Jewish our Spring is defined by different time definitions..
Yud Shvat.. Tu B'Shvat..
New year for Lubavitchers
New year for Trees..
Purim... Make Believe and party... before the cleaning starts
Passover begins in the stores with shelves filled with macaroons begging the dieter to eat just one (of every flavor) for traditions sake..
Right.. for traditions sake......
Funny what traditions us Jews keep..
I know Jews who won't keep kosher, laugh at anything connected to the "Old Ways", pick baseball teams based on if they have a Jewish player, eat bagels and biallys and would never think of eating Cuban Bread for breakfast... and though they insist on eating bread on Pesach they also insist on eating every flavor macaroon in the market. At work a lady came to me to show me she had bought a box of Matzo Sticks. Even when they try so hard to disconnect they keep reconnecting.
Matzo Sticks. This has to be the biggest coup in advertising ever... someone took Matzah.. got them into small slivers of sticks and is selling them like breadsticks... little cardboard tasting breadsticks for about $5.99 a box. The box was about twice the size of a box of toothpicks and probably not as tasty. If frum people think Shmura Matzah is expensive this year by pound.. trust me its a cheap deal compared to those "Matza Sticks"
Anyway.. back to hurricanes...
I was walking down the street the other day coming home from a Sunday Morning Bris for a neighbor's baby and there in front of me on the ground is this beautiful piece of black, shiny, glittery paper that caught my eyes.. Looking as new and fresh as if it just flew off the roof yesterday with Katrina or Rita or Wilma. Except that.. it had flown off the roof months ago or maybe.. possibly some roofer had thrown it off when he was finally replacing a new roof nearby. Either way, there is sat, shiny and glittery in the sunday morning, sunlight.
Since August of last year .. Miami is littered with these glittery, coal like hard paper substances that shine when the sun hits them just right making them look like something that should be cut up and made into jewelry. A Science Project.. Art Project.. something.
Years from now people will do an archaelogical dig and find out that in the days before that big Cumbre Viegja volcano finally blew and Florida was above sea level that the people of Florida collected little pieces of black shiny jewels and littered them in their front yards for good luck.
I bent down, picked one large piece of roofing paper up and twisted it back and forth in the morning sunshine watching it catch the sun and glitter like Obsidian Paper or something or other. I thought to myself.. shouldn't someone be doing SOMETHING with these things. A missed opportunity perhaps.. Purim Platters on Roofing Tile instead of plastic fish plates from Walgreens..
I don't know.. it's hard to focus on Pesach when the neighborhood is still dressed in blue from last year's hurricanes and knowing the hurricane season is just around the corner.
Since Simchas Torah ..the last big festival... when we danced by candlelight and flashlight and generators and moonlight... when dining outside became a fun way to enjoy the breeze and we gathered around the nightly bonfire to roast chicken and turkey... nothing has been normal, nothing has been as it seems.
And.. yet......life goes on... the pages of the calendar get turned ...
Pesach IS around the corner and we may have Blue Tarps on our Rooftops but we will have clean houses and turned over tin foil kitchens inside.
And.... whether in New Orleans or North Miami Beach we will gather together with our family and a few friends and possibly a few strangers who need a place to have a seder and do what us Jews have been doing since time almost began back in Egypt... when we first went into Exile and wandered through the desert.. Jews who keep the holidays carefully or those who celebrate it and connect to their past by trying Cappuchino Chocolate Chip Macaroons... they will sit down and retell the story of going out of Egypt and how Hashem saved the Jews and set them free.
I mean if you think about it.. the Passover Haggadah is like the worlds longest ongoing Blog.. like one of those old emails that says if you send this to your whole buddy list Bill Gates will donate 54 million dollars to the charity of your choice.
As for me.. I'm going to settle down this morning and clean a bit in the house, make some lists... check a few sites online... write at least 1000 words on the story I am working on that probably will never get finished but is cute... and finally go to work.
Yud Aleph Nissan is around the corner and it begs me to ask myself.. "what am I going to do ..to take on ... to change in my life" and.. at the moment there is no answer welling up from the bottom of my soul. But, that is the beauty of inspiration ... it hits you when you most need it.
Today I need to clean.
Sometime between now and Yud Aleph Nissan I can figure out what to do..
After Passover and the arrival of my kids back home in their tropical nest... after Passover I will worry on the Hurricane Season.
Today.. I will worry on if the Red Sox win.. if I can get to the post office today.. if I can organize my shopping for Passover and figure out a shopping list..call the Gas company and tell them I am out of gas and call Judaica and find out if my Shmura Matza has arrived.
And... I remember that story of chicken fat and diamonds that is retold in every Chabad House across the country...
A man goes on an ocean voyage looking for treasure.. almost drowns, ends up on an island where people think diamonds are worthless and chicken fat is what is valuable. At first he is thrilled.. he runs along the beaches picking up diamonds thinking he is going to be the richest man in the world when he gets off the island and finds a way back home. His pockets full of diamonds.. he comes across the natives who tell him those are worthless. Seems on that island, in that land.. the economy is backed by chicken fat. Chicken Fat is to them what diamonds are to Americans. He can't believe it, he's shocked, hard to believe. Good old, very fattening, very smelly chicken fat. But, as time goes by he stops collecting the diamonds and he starts filling his pockets with other things.. .years go by... he starts to see the value of chicken fat and when he finally builds his boat, a boat much bigger than the original Ark to hold all is new found wealth and sails it home.... he is sure he will be a wealthy man who can retire to a golf community on a lake in Florida somewhere. People spot his ship.. they see him coming, they gather at the dock and are ready to greet him but begin to be overcome by the very strong smell of some very old, now rancid chicken fat...
And, they screen out to him Yossel.. Yossel.. what is that horrible smell? Where are the diamonds and riches you promises to find when you went overseas looking for a fortune..
"Diamonds he says?"
He laughs.. "Diamonds are worthless don't you know that? Chicken Fat is where it's at... I brought you back a ship load of chicken fat!!"
Well..the story is told by others better than me and now it probably is told with space ships or airships and I Pods and laptops but the moral is the same..
In this world our souls come down and we are here for a reason.. along the way we get distracted and we forget what is really valuable.. really important.. where we came from.. we begin to think tar paper glitters, blue plastic is important, having back up power generators and some fancy flashlight that runs on a lot of batteries but will charge our cell phones if we lose power and we pay a fortune for Matza Sticks.. because we forget what is really important.
We forget the purpose, we forget the plan..
Not all of us.. no...not all of us.. many take on and create institutions and programs and projects to help people around us on Planet Earth. Some of us run Chabad Houses or Neshei Chabad.. others start non-profit organizations to teach children and help empower people where ever it is needed the most. A mission calls to them... a mitzvah is done... information is given out to people who need... like packages from the Red Cross or Pesach Packages given to poor people who need help making Pesach..
This is our real reason for being here..
Everything else is so to speak chopped liver. He tastes good on crackers but.. it goes bad fast and isn't that healthy for you.
This Passover.. in places like Miami, Mobile and Mississippi Jews will look around them at a land that is still being rebuilt and they will better be able to connect to those Jews of long ago who were traveling through the desert on their way towards the future.. in limbo waiting for roofers.
We are all still in Golus... with manna falling from the sky and blue roof tops dotting the very tropical landscape. Mango trees are struggling to bear fruit, my bougenvilla is full of flowers again and soon my frangipangi tree will be in bloom... again..
And, after Passover I will deal with the upcoming 2006 Hurricane Season.
Reminder to buy some chicken fat for Pesach, to render down with some onions in a pan frying, to use for oil... to use for flavor... to nibble on in the kitchen Erev Pesach with my daughter Shayna.. a tradition :)
Bobbi in the land of blue rooftops..