Whew - Purim, then Shabbat. Quite a mouthful - literally!
The week started with a women's Purim party at Chaya's house. Now tell me, if you were invited to a Purim party, wouldn't you think that everyone was coming in costume? Yeah, me too! But apparently not these women at this particular party... I was the only one who showed up looking distinctly not like me. I was wearing an old suit of David's with suspenders that held the pants well above my waistline - Steve Erkel would have been proud. I also had a painted-on moustache, a blue afro covered by a Borselino, and a bright red bow tie. Almost all of the other 17 party-ers commented on my lovely appearance. I didn't really mind. When Malka finally showed up, she changed into a similar get-up and we provided the entertainment for the evening by doing a rendition of "Abbott and Costello Learn Hebrew." We each held an ulpan book while she (Abbott) taught me (Costello) the rudiments of Hebrew. You know: מי is who and היא is she and הוא is he and מה is what and דג is fish. I thought most people had heard the routine before, but apparently not - they seemed to enjoy it. Another woman gave an enlightening dvar Torah and we played a game called Yankee swap which was kind of fun - I won a beautiful haggadah with a lot of Marc Chagall paintings.
Early Wednesday morning found me on a bus to Yerushalayim for a therapy appointment. That's the day that all the school children had their Purim parties. The sidewalks were filled with kids (and some adults) dressed up in the cutest costumes! There was a party atmosphere in the air and everyone looked so happy as they headed to their destinations. After all the tragedies lately, it was good to see people feeling happy.
After I got home later that day - surprise, surprise - I started feeling not so great, and all that night I kept waking up with a terrible sore throat. By the time Thursday morning rolled around, I had a raging upper respiratory problem - a mere three weeks after surviving the last round. What is going on here?! I never used to get sick - or stay sick - this often in my life. We did have a pretty bad dust storm for two days earlier in the week and allergy season has definitely started, so those could be contributing factors. The fact that I can't just close the windows and turn on the air conditioning as I've always been able to do in the past could also have something to do with it.
Anyway, I had a To Do list a mile long for each day this past week and somehow managed to get the whole list completed in time. Baruch Hashem David had decided to take Thursday off (he hates working on fast days) and he helped tremendously. I actually didn't even make it to the Megillah reading Thursday night and even though someone offered to call someone else to come read it to me at home, I wasn't even up to that. On Friday morning the cold medicines started kicking in and I was able to get to shul and then come home to prepare for our seuda (festive meal). Three families came over (we had all contributed to the meal), the temperature was in the low to mid 70's with not a cloud in the sky, and we all had a great time. David had set up tables outside and we had a cooler filled with wine. Penina's oldest son brought two friends along, and the boys had a guitar which I personally enjoyed (some of the other adults thought they were rather loud). Pinchas (Penina's husband) joined them with his flute and together with the sounds of our neighbors enjoying their own seudas, a fun time was had by all.
I tried to relax in the afternoon, but we had nine people coming for dinner and there were things I needed to finish up before then, although the cooking was already done. We had Thanksgiving fare: turkey breast, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. It's the least expensive way to feed a crowd and everybody seems to like it. Miryam and Shaya were the only ones who came for lunch today, and we had plenty of leftovers - that's when it really felt like Thanksgiving!
We did have some bad news this week. Our friend, Tobi (whose husband, Zvi, we stayed with last Shabbat in Ramat Beit Shemesh), lost her sister after a five month struggle with lung cancer. All the family that was with her in New York flew back to Israel Wednesday night with the body and the levaya (funeral) was very late Thursday night in Yerushalayim. There was no way I was up to going, but David went. We're going to pay a shiva call on Monday night.
You just have to wonder sometimes at the way things work out. To have to bury a beloved (50 year old) family member on Purim - a holiday of joy? What is that all about? I find myself asking Hashem "why?" so often these days. I wish we had a Rav that we could go to at times like this. It's not that I'm looking for answers, because I know that no one has answers for situations like this, and I know that there are certain things that Hashem wants from us: that we recognize Him, that we live by His mitzvot, that we learn to love and respect each other. But I want to see the Big Picture; I want to see the front of the quilt instead of all the individual knots and pieces on the back. It's said that there will come a time when we'll all be able to see how everything fits together. I guess I just need some סבלנות (patience).