The candle still burns

by | Oct 20, 2023

Day 14 – Friday, Erev Shabbat

Hard to believe that this has now been going on for two weeks. It’s Friday, and time for us to get ready for shabbat.

I look over to the shelf where I light my shabbat candles. The seven-day candle I lit on Wednesday is still burning and I am reminded that no, it’s not over yet. We still have no knowledge about the condition of our hostages, the red cross has made no effort to see them.

It seems like this is part of the plan. There’s definitely a psychological part of the warfare. They want to keep us feeling like they are in control. I don’t even know if they realize it’s all an illusion. Their actions are designed to fool themselves into feeling powerful, but everything they do, everything they claim about us reveals the truth of the situation, they are afraid of us.

If it weren’t for the fact that we are also afraid, this situation probably wouldn’t even exist. In the book of Bamidbar (Numbers) 13:33, when the spies return to Moses and give a bad report about the land of Israel, they reveal the truth of our situation – it says – “we were grasshoppers in our own eyes and so we became in theirs”

Because of how the Jewish people have seen ourselves for literally thousands of years, the rest of the world sees us that way. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can create a new reality.

On Friday mornings my husband and I usually go out to a local bagel cafe for our weekly “date breakfast”. Last week we didn’t go because there were threats of violence in the streets and although the cafe is only a 10 minute drive – to the next village, which is where my oldest son and his family live, I was concerned that the major intersection between here and there could be a hotspot. But today, we’ve already been doing this for two weeks. There’s no “extra” threat of violence, and I need to get out. I am also a firm believer that if we stop living our lives, the enemy has won. They may not have killed our body, but they’ve killed our spirit, and that’s nearly as bad. Some might even say it’s worse.

After breakfast and a few short errands – some pre-made food for Shabbat, flowers, and challah, we head back home.

I’m still behind on my blog posts. I’ve made notes each day, but now I need to turn them into something readable. That takes a lot longer than people might think. Most people are surprised to learn how long it takes me to write. I’m not sure if that’s normal for all writers, or if I’m just super particular about the words I choose, so I’m slow. I guess it doesn’t matter.

While I’m sitting at the computer writing, I notice a really loud boom. But my phone didn’t buzz. I don’t know if anyone got sirens, but the app didn’t say anything, so I quickly check the news sites and discover that a rocket landed in an open field between us and where my mother and adopted kids live – is that sounding familiar? This is not the first time this has happened, although I do think it’s the first time that my app didn’t buzz. Family checks in – everyone is okay.

My sister, who lives in Maryland, sends us an image that she is preparing to put on T-shirts to sell. The shirts say “I stand with Israel and have an image of the Judaen hills layered beneath an Israeli flag and a silhouette of a man and a woman touching the star on the flag. Last week, my sister wanted to do something to help. Being of modest means, she couldn’t just donate money, but she decided that if she made t-shirts that people would buy, she would donate all of the proceeds (minus the cost of materials – nothing for her) to a fund being managed by our rabbi. We all agree, the design is beautiful.

This week, in addition to taking my phone off of do-not-disturb mode for shabbat, I decided to leave my computer on. We don’t have a radio, but in addition to the silent radio and tv channels, the Home Front Command has created a web page that shows emergency information as well as a pop-up on the screen when there is a rocket attack. The nice thing about this setup is that when I hear the buzzing of my phone or loud booms, I can walk into my office and look at the screen. Rocket information stays up for 10 minutes after the siren, so I can see what’s going on without being tempted to touch my phone. I prefer this, and in the end it turns out to actually be useful in easing some of my anxiety.

Since my SIL has come home for Shabbat, my daughter and the kids are eating Friday night dinner at home. Not only do they need time alone together, but this way he can get to bed as early as possible, because being in the army – no matter where you are serving – is exhausting. We will be eating with my son and DIL for Friday night. It turns out my son will be returning to the northern frontlines early Sunday morning. Lunch will be just the two of us, and I don’t mind the time to relax. These quiet Shabbats my husband and I read, nap and even play some games together. Although I am still in a constant state of alert, I can’t get on social media or read the news, so it’s still a time of rest and recuperation. You know, God really knew what He was doing when He created the Sabbath and made it a commandment.

After getting the apartment ready for shabbat, and showering, I go to light my candles. It may be quiet where I live, but I am reminded nonetheless that we are still at war, that there are over 200 Jews – including children and elderly – who are being held in captivity. They won’t be celebrating shabbat. So again, I light an extra two shabbat candles for the women who are in captivity and who are defending our lives and I light my own candles. This week I am able to make the blessing over the candles. I stop and think about the women who I am lighting for and I am again brought to tears. This won’t be over for me until it’s over for them, and maybe not even then.

I don’t need to light a yahrzeit candle – that one’s still burning.

Written by Penina Taylor

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