This, my 613th article, was my initial goal, following in the steps of Maimonides’ 613 commandments (Taryag Mitzvot).
It is dedicated with great esteem and respect to Miriam Herschlag and Anne Gordon, my two devoted and patient editors, and to the millions of TOI readers world-wide, many of whom have shared comments with me.
Among the most prolific commentators are Saul C. (in USA), Tamas S.(maybe in Hungary), Heike K (in Germany), Henrique K (in Brazil), Mark S. (in Israel), Steve B. (in USA) and always faithful Alba P. (in USA by way of Cuba)..
I have singled them out primarily for their very frequent replies and often corrections to errors I have made. And I am exceedingly grateful to them for being faithful readers.
For a writer is of little consequence or meaning without such faithful readers.
It all began with my retirement from the university in 2006. Without any hobbies of interest, my beloved late wife Rahel suggested that I should pick up on my writing. My one-and-only published book, “Poems and Poets of Israel: Selected Masterpieces.” saw the light of day in 1967 and Rahel suggested that I should begin to write another.
I complained that I lacked patience at this stage of my life to begin the tedious work of writing a book, and so she suggested that I write a daily article, even if not published, to keep me busy with creative time.
And thus was born my initiation into the warm and wonderful family of the TIMES OF ISRAEL.
I was grateful to Rahel for encouraging my steps in that direction.
And during the final days of her life, torn away from me and our children and grandchildren by the dreaded pancreatic cancer from which she suffered for eight months prior to dying, she made me promise her to continue with my writing, to keep my mind active, to share my words with others.
I have sincerely tried to keep my promise to her but I feel that it is time for me to close the computer, close my eyes, and devote solitary time to thinking about God and to petting my daughter’s faithful Israeli Canaan dog, born in Shaar Hagai, Jerusalem, who lies beside me on the bed and lets me know that I am not alone.
Ten volumes of bound articles published by the TIMES OF ISRAEL are stacked high on a table in the living room. They are a reminder to me of what I have accomplished, thanks to the love and encouragement of my beloved Rahel, of my wonderful children Sharona, Eitan and Liora and my devoted grandchildren Eliana, Ariel and Michaela. Because of them my life has meaning.
Editors Miriam and Anne deserve gold medals for putting up with me, for helping me to log on to the TOI site when my computer did not respond, and for not chastising me for my computer illiteracy.
Only my children can do that… and rightly so.
I look forward to reading the many brilliant articles submitted to TOI from writers across the globe… over rivers, oceans, seas and mountains…. All in an effort to share their thoughts with others.
When I taught in university, I always told my students (about five thousand of them over long, long years) a proverb attributed to Rabbi Chanina in the Babylonian Talmud, Taanit 7a, which always had immense meaning for me:
“mi rabbotai lamadeti harbai”—from my teachers I have learned much;
“u mi chavairai yoter mi rabbotai”— and from my friends, more than from my teachers;
“aval mi talmidai yoter mi koolam”— but from my students, I have learned more than from all others.
I close # 613 with dire news from South Africa. The Board of Jewish Deputies is in dire fear of threats of death from South African blacks who have labeled the country’s remaining Jewish population “scum, rats, bastards, pigs, swine” and other vulgar names too shameful to print here.
The leader of South Africa’s Jewish community has been warned that “your time is coming and the Holocaust will be a picnic by comparison”.
What is wrong with South Africa’s Jews? Don’t they see the handwriting on the wall? Their choice is between Aliyah and Auschwitz.
But I leave the future details of this bitter anti-Semitic crisis to writers more erudite than I am.
So for now, best wishes for a shabbat shalom u’mevorach.. a blessed sabbath of peace.
Many sincere thanks to you, dear friends, for being devoted teachers and loyal readers..
May Almighty God bless you and your families with good health, long years of life, happiness and inner peace, and success in all that you do.
Now I’ll sit back and follow the Prepared Food Affair of the indicted Sara Netanyahu.
I’m sending her a nail-file so that she can file a release from her “prison” cell… the vacated-to-be Prime Minister’s Residence.
So for now…Shalom u’l’hishtamaya. Bye bye and keep in touch.