Today all the religious Jews held their collective breaths. This is the 9th of Av on their calendar and a lot that is bad has happened to the Jews (and the world) during this day. Today it has been relatively quiet except in the north where the war is going on.
Scott came in last night at 6:30, took a quick shower, and headed to the Lebanese border. He went to pick up a young Israeli soldier who was injured two days ago. The soldier was standing with his platoon when a hand grenade was lobbed from out of nowhere and landed on the ground in their midst. An officer was standing among the men and he instinctively dove on the grenade which sent his body parts all over the other guys. Just then a bush opened up with machine gun fire killing several and wounding the young man whom Scott had gone to the border to pick up. The Hezballah have dug miles and miles of tunnels and can come up from underground any place they choose. Just when the Israelis think they have secured an area, out pops someone from underground and opens fire or lobs a grenade and disappears again. They must have learned this tactic in Viet Nam.
There is a unique group of young men in Israel who come here in their late teens. They have grown up in ultra religious families in various countries. Eventually they reach a point where they can’t do the “religious thing” any more. When this happens, their parents disown them, considering them to have died. The parents then buy their son a one-way ticket to Israel in the hope the kid will “come to his senses” and find some way to live the rest of his life (hopefuly as a Jew). They come to Israel knowing no one, having no friends and no money. Most of them go into the army for lack of anything else to do. They find what happiness and fellowship they can in drugs, women and alcohol, but they are really looking for a father.
Scott is a big, burly man who has been a father figure to a lot of these boys, but he says, “They don’t need me as a father, or you as a father. They need the only Father who can really help them.” The boy Scott picked up last night is one of these and he may be coming here to live with them as soon as he is released from the hospital.
Last night I attended a march at the Old City Walls. The march was to show solidarity for the soldiers and the land of Israel. I went just to see what it would be like. It was a beautiful, warm night. I walked to the bus stop around 8:30. The sun had set. The sky on the western horizon was light blue and it got darker and darker blue the more I looked up toward the half moon above my head. There was a slight breeze that always seems to be blowing in the City.
Everyone was to gather in a square downtown and first listen to an hour of reading the Torah. I got to the square late because I wasn’t interested in the reading. I still got there too soon. They must have started late (typical Israelis) but the square was pretty full. The reader was singing–well sort of. He was an elderly man, singing in Hebrew. Actually he was singing-yelling into the microphone. I don’t know why people who run sound systems think the world had gone deaf. Maybe it’s because they have gone deaf!
I had to move out of the courtyard where I could sit on a low wall and not be directly affected by the “singing”. Eventually another man took over. He wasn’t any better a singer, but he didn’t yell. I just closed my eyes and almost fell off the wall I was so tired. Just then a midget sat down beside me and lit a cigarette. Before I moved away from the smoke, he decided to move. Then a beggar sat down on the opposite side. He turned to me and said, “Shalom.” Remember that my eyes were closed and I was almost asleep. Even though the smell of his tobacco breath woke me up, I still pretended to be asleep. Finally he got up and moved, too.
Then the march began. It took a long time before the crowd could assemble on the street corner. The woman in charge told everyone, “We have all begun our fast for Tish B’av. This is a solomn march and you should not talk but walk reverently. This is not a ‘happening’.” Well, that didn’t last long at all. It was definitely a “happening”. There were thousands of people marching, waving flags and talking as only Jews can talk: loudly and waving their hands.
We walked down the street with the Walls on our right. Then we turned the corner, keeping the walls always to our right. We entered the Arab section and lots of Arab children screamed at the crowd from the rooftops of their houses. Police and the army were everywhere by the hundreds, with all sorts of guns and some on horseback.
Someone had the foresight to put Porto potties every half mile or so. Thank you…
When we had walked about half way around the Old City, the crowd stopped to hear a member of Parliament give a speech. About half the crowd left and went to the Western Wall where all the crowd was eventually to gather. I really wanted to be at the Western Wall with that many thousands of people. But, by then I was concerned that I would miss the last bus home. At any rate, I was determined to finish the walk all the way around the walls even if I had to get a taxi home. So I set out to finish the walk.
Every time I walked a mile down hill, I knew what was coming: a mile up hill. It took me an hour and 1/2 to make it all the way around. By then it was 11:15 and I was pretty worn out. I had another couple of miles to get to the bus stop where I finally caught the bus at 12:15 and got home at 1:45 this morning.
Spent most of the day rewriting chapters for Yossi’s book. Also, I finally got in touch with Emily Whiteside. She had been to the coast with her sister, Grace, who had come in to be with Em her last two weeks here. Next week will be lots of fun.
Did I mention that Danny had asked me to help him with his business? Don’t remember.
One more thing: It’s a wonderful thing to hear the children calling their fathers. They say, “Abba! Abba!” Does this remind anyone of anything Jesus and Paul said? Try John 14:6 & Romans 8:15.
May the Lord bless you all!