So many special things happened in a row that I would like to make a note of them for posterity. Day after day after day, unique happened. Did you realize all of them and do you still remember? Time flies when you’re having fun.
On his first visit abroad, US President Donald J. Trump visited Israel too, “prayed” at the Kotel and going all smiles with us (but behind closed doors screaming at “President” Abbas), daughter Yael cried a tear at the Holy Wall, and leaving without one single press conference. Enfant terrible Oren Chazan stole a selfie with him but the establishment did not like that – as if he is here to be liked by them. The next day:
And not just a day to celebrate the unification of our capital. Fifty years since the liberation of Jerusalem from Jordanian occupation and destruction. That only happens one day in the history of the world.
I noticed that religious Jews celebrate this more than Independence Day. The next day:
The day after Jerusalem fell into our hands, Chevron returned to us too. Fifty years since Rabbi Goren singlehandedly “recaptured” Chevron for the Jewish People. He simply walked, holding a Torah scroll, into Chevron. Arabs who saw his self-confidence were sure that he must be followed by an enormous tank force and fled. He was not. The next day:
Rosh Chodesh Sivan
The first day of the new month of Sivan. This year it also (almost) coincided with the start if the Ramadan. It always depends on when the moon is actually visible which this year was the next day, Shabbat. (They use telescopes; when we have the Sanhedrin again, we’ll do the same but only with the naked eye. The next day:
Parashat Bamidbar and Day of Distinction
Shabbat is always special, every week. Bamidbar is normally read before Shavuot. The branches of Jewish-religious youth movement B’nay Akiva from all Jerusalem’s neighborhoods every year march to the Kotel on the Shabbat afternoon before Shavu’ot. However, this year, they went a week earlier because of the dangers on the first day of the Ramadan. Where are the days that Muslims decided to murder Jews before the holy Ramadan, not to soil their holy month with bloodshed? I remember that that was the attitude during the Second Intifada – a mere 15 years ago. The most dangerous days were those before the Ramadan – when a peaceful atmosphere would descend on Muslim society. What a decline that now those who murder in the name of Islam seek to sanctify their holiest month with blood!
What is and when was the original Day of Distinction is explained in the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbat, pages 86b-88a. That will keep you off the street for a while! Nowadays it falls between the Head of the Month of Sivan and the three days that precede the Festival of Jewish Pentecost. The next days:
Three Days of Restraint
Three things Moses changed on his own accord and G-d liked them. One was to enlarge the two to three days of separation between the genders before the Revelation on Sinai. All Jewish customs agree that one can then get a haircut. The next day:
Day fifty arrived, seven complete weeks since Pesach we needed to complete before we may make Kiddush. In The Netherlands, even the evening service won’t start until it’s really dark, which means about 23:00. Then rushing home, a quick meal and rushing back to get all of the traditional learning done before daybreak. My shul this year was decorated with flowers – many have this custom for Shavuot. The next day:
Yom Tov Sheni in the Diaspora
Because of the delay by Moses, this was most probably the Jewish-calendar day that we actually received the Torah. The Rabbis have declared violating the sanctity of the Second Festival days of the Diaspora worse that the Firsts, but in this case it seems extra bad as that was likely the actual day. (Try to explain that to the non-Orthodox streams.) In any case, learning and receiving Jewish knowledge is of every day, so that fits that this is the only Festival that has no set date in the Torah.
Meanwhile it was already Isru chag in Israel, schools still free.
It was a most remarkable sequence of 16 days. I have no idea when the Christian Festival days fell. One of the perks of living in Jerusalem.
The Diaspora would go back to Tachanun prayers on the ninth, and Israel on the thirteenth of Sivan. This was followed by heat waves. Most traditional Jews try to go on vacation and daytrips as soon as schools stop and before the Three Weeks start. In the distance a faint smell of the High Holidays may be sensed already. When one lives by the Jewish calendar, one is never lost in time.