It's just past midnight, motzi Shabbat, and there are at least ten fires visible from our mirpeset. No, it's not terrorists - it's Lag B'Omer and the whole country is partying!
People, mostly kids, have been dragging whatever wood they could find to open sites all over Ramat Beit Shemesh (and all over Israel) since Pesach ended. Wooden teepees were everywhere. After Shabbat, people started arriving by cars, by bicycles, by skateboards and by foot, and lighting up. We had to finally close the windows and turn on the air; I haven't stopped coughing for the past hour. We just happen to live on the edge of the city, so there's lots of room across the street from us to build the fires. But Emma and I walked one street over earlier to the empty lot where 2 shuls will be building their new buildings soon, and that fire was HUGE! There was a cotton candy stand and a popcorn stand on the street, men were dancing, the music was blaring. Here, near our building, lots of people brought guitars, and further down the street a whole lot of yeshiva boys were dancing around their fire. People are set up for picnics; they brought tables and are roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. Quite a scene. If only I could stop coughing!
It was on Lag B'Omer that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai revealed the Zohar, so we celebrate this "light" of Torah 17 days before Shavuous. Also, in the time of Rabbi Akiva, his students (12,000 pairs of study partners) died because they didn't accord proper respect to their friends. It was on Lag B'Omer that they stopped dying. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is quoted as saying that it is better to burn in a furnace than to embarrass a friend in public, so the light of the fires reminds us to treat others with respect.
David has to be up at 5 to go to work tomorrow; it's still pretty noisy outside...
So, let's get you caught up on the news here in our neck of the woods. David and I had decided to buy a house in Kochav Yaakov until we actually sat down and looked at our finances. It didn't take much for us to realize that we just don't have enough money to buy anything. We could do it but it would take every penny we have, and I don't want to be without some sort of cushion. Plus we'd buy the duplex and wouldn't even have any money to fix it the way we'd want it.
So we're waiting to hear about a house for rent in Kochav Yaakov instead. It's the only thing for rent there, so if that falls through, we're going to have to look into renting something expensive in Har Nof or Ramot (in Jerusalem) where we wouldn't need a car.
(It's 12:30 in the morning and someone is outside in a van with a microphone and speakers and being extremely loud and obnoxious. It's stopped on the street and cars are honking at it to move. Don't they care that some people have to be up early to go to work tomorrow? Oh, wait - this is Israel. Silly me.)
Earlier this week I did something really, really fun. I went to a Jewish Women's Writing Seminar at a hotel in Jerusalem. It was a whole day affair, and the speakers were writers and editors for Mishpacha and Binah magazines, and other well known authors, like Sarah Shapiro and Yaffa Ganz. Just before lunch (very fancy) they drew names for raffle prizes and I won the book "Holy Woman" by Sara Yocheved Rigler. I love her writing! The book was even inscribed, although obviously not to me personally since she didn't know who would win it. It's an incredible book; I read a lot of it over Shabbos. I highly recommend it!
If only I had time to write more, especially now that I've got all these pointers from the seminar. But I've been pretty busy with my new job of typing legal transcripts. At first they were only giving me small jobs and only one at a time. But I have 5 due this week! And the audio quality on two of them is terrible. I keep listening to the same sentence over and over, but the voice "wobbles" or is drowned out by papers moving or other people talking or the speaker not speaking clearly. I can tell this is not going to be as easy as I thought. I think my boss is going to complain about this particular court reporter in Florida who doesn't do such a good job of recording the proceedings.
So, I believe I told you about Lucky, the abandoned dog who's been hanging around for about a month now. Oh, I forgot to tell you - I named him Lucky. I've been feeding him twice a day and taking water to him every time I take Emma out for a walk. The poor thing has burrs stuck all over him and he's so filthy. I posted an email on the RBS list to see if someone would adopt him, and even though two families came to check him out, no one's willing to take him. David said we could take him to the vet and check him out, and if he's okay, we can bring him in and clean him up and then maybe someone would be more willing to consider taking him. But of course, my neighbor, Shaina, was going to drive us to the vet Friday morning and Lucky was nowhere to be found. He showed up at 3:30 in the afternoon and the vet closed at 2. I told David I was going to bring him in anyway, dirty and all, but we couldn't coax him into our apartment building. I had bought him a collar and he was really excited when I put it on, but he was too scared to come inside with us. I've tried several times since yesterday and he gets so close - but then just lies down right outside and won't budge. I don't know how we'll ever get him in a car. Poor thing. I'm almost ready to give up on him, but I don't want to do that. I guess we'll just keep trying to win his trust. I hope he found a good place to sleep tonight; usually he's in the empty lot across the street from us, but there's an awful lot of smoke and people there right now.
It's 1 a.m. I'd better get to bed. I still have to count the Omer - it's the first time I've made it this far! I'm so proud of myself!