“What do you have for 12 shek?” I ask as my eyes meet the menu hanging above his head indicating that the cheapest menu item is ₪13.
“Al tid’ag motek! Kach et zeh b’shteym esrei” (“Don’t worry motek, take it for twelve”) he answers, tossing a fresh (I hope!) spinach and cheese boureka into his hot oven.
Hmm. I didn’t even ask for a discount. I didn’t even say I don’t have 13 shekels. He just jumped at the opportunity to serve me. How refreshing I thought.
The last few weeks have been a test for our people. Across the land, people are on edge, people are nervous. And yes, people are scared.
What might today bring? What might happen next?
Hundreds of terror attacks have peppered our society at random, challenging our daily lives and chewing at the backbone of our very stubborn Israeli resolve.
Empty streets. Struggling business. Kids staying home from school.
And… unity everywhere.
Yes, somehow, through it all, there’s been time for friendship, there’s been a place for kindness. There’s been much consideration for others and there’s been a very bright light of unity shining on the Holy Land.
There’s the woman I witnessed chasing a bus on Azza Street. The bus driver made eye contact with her and, as I’ve seen probably more than 100 times, simply pulled the doors closed and began to roll away. Yet, this time, the driver drove straight to where she was standing – having stopped in disappointment of missing yet another bus – pushed the doors open towards her and gladly invited her on board.
Nor could I forget the young fellow in the goatee and earring at the local Schawarma joint who handed me my laffa in good faith, hoping that I might pay tomorrow since I simply had no cash on me and they don’t take credit card (I indeed returned the next day).
And of course, the shopkeeper in the shuk who suggested I do my “other shopping” and then bring him the final two shekels if I could find them. Which I did.
From place to place, person to person. There are countless stories to go around.
In this cloudy-with-a-chance-of-stabbing forecast, it makes me feel secure to experience this unity. It makes me feel strong against an enemy that, short of seeing us dead, appreciates nothing more than seeing us fragmented. They celebrate during our weaker times and they tremble when we come together.
With the first two portions of the Torah behind us, Bereshit and Noach, I find the timing apropos. Bereishit talks about creation. Or, in a sense, a new beginning. Noach addresses the sinful times of that generation and G-d’s deeming destruction necessary and thus flooding the earth.
Bereishit is a time to refresh and restart. Noach is a time to reflect and renew.
Here we are, just after our High Holidays, the start of our brand new year, with a fresh new start of unity and camaraderie. This is our chance to renew friendships, mend relationships and move forward together. We are all in this together!
And, while it’s not about the money for most of us, for some people it truly is. For that shopkeeper at Shuk Mahane Yehudah who’s been struggling to turn in a decent day of sales because of the climate, your business – your unity and support – does matter.
Those final two shekels make a difference indeed.