These words were often said to me on Shabbat by my late sainted wife when, at the Shabbat table, she noticed that I had been crying. Since her death, my daughter repeats these words when she sees me picking up the framed photo of my wife…the last photo of her life… kissing it, telling her how much I loved her and how empty my life is without her.
“Abba, remember what Ima always told you. There is no crying on Shabbat”. The words fall on my deaf ears. I hold the photo close to my heart, kiss it and cry out “why did you leave me? How can I go on living without you?” And to the upsetting of my daughter, I add “Rahel, my darling. Move over. Make room for me. I’ll be coming to lie down beside you soon”. And I continue to cry while my daughter embraces me.
It is because I am a deeply sentimental person…always have been… and can cry easily. I cried many tears when I recently read the tragic story of which I wrote…the murder of the one-year old baby Yasmin.
My eyes were moist with tears again on erev Shabbat when I read the extremely kind words of a reader, Saul Chapnick, whom I have never met. I don’t know if he is Israeli or American but he is a faithful reader of the TIMES OF ISRAEL and has often responded to my articles with warm heartfelt words.
I don’t know him panim el panim (face to face) but I do know him internally and spiritually as a God-fearing man whom God has blessed with caring and compassion.
In his e-mail reply, he indicated that he had written several responses to some of my 13 last articles but his comments never appeared. He believes the fault lies with the TOI tech team and my devoted editor, Miriam, has been alerted to it.
My eyes were wet with tears of happiness that a reader unknown to me personally would take time to re-assure me that my writing is not in vain. He discouraged me from considering a “Sabbatical” and insisted that, if not only for what’s left of my mental health or the promise I made to Rahel to continue with my writing, that it should be incumbent upon me to awake in the morning refreshed with new thoughts to share with my readers.
At the end of the Shabbat meal my daughter recited a blessing for the continued good health and long life for a man she has never met and who knows him only from occasionally reading his supportive replies to one of my published articles.
And then, with a hug and a kiss, she once again reminded me that “Ima would not want you to cry on Shabbat”. Not even tears of happiness, I ask ? No tears on Shabbat, she replies and adds “it’s now time to recite birkat hamazon (the blessing after meals).
If Saul’s soothing words were not sufficient, a Cuban born Catholic woman from the southern American state of Florida, writes to me with a copy to Saul, sharing the same feelings he had expressed. Alba Allison is, as our Book of Proverbs describes, an eshet chayil…a woman of valor who reads my articles and passes them along to another Catholic woman who has visited Israel more than a dozen times.
How grateful I am for the kindness of these and other readers who offer me encouragement and inspire me to continue.
The TIMES OF ISRAEL has given renewed purpose and meaning to my life. It disciplines me to consider the thoughts… the random thoughts as I refer to them… to share my ideas, opinions, and feelings with readers both in Israel and those in far distant lands across the globe…like readers in Brazil, Germany, Italy and France.
Muslim and Christian Arabs remain silent for fear of their safety in communicating with an Israeli writer.
Every comment I receive, positive or negative, requires me to do some soul-searching. Sitting at a table at Café Aroma or Cup O’Joe in one of our kanyonim (large shopping malls) I can watch the world of Israel pass before my eyes.
But none of their strange faces inspires me as much as Tamas and Mark in Israel, and the Sauls and Albas of the world.
Their kindness to a lonely old widower will be repaid to them ten-fold by He who grants blessings to His creations.
And as for me, I’ll try to cry no more on Shabbat.