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By Ted Roberts
As in every construct in G-d’s world, there are only two sides. There
is the Cosmos - stars, constellations, and galaxies; and the Divine
mind that we call our world, full of joy and pain. Suffering,
exalting, hoping, dreaming. These we talk about. In my village, we
tell the story of Israel, the kite flyer, who lived a mile or two down
the road towards Vlank. A nice stroll from the Shtetle.
All agreed that he was a strange man with no visible measure of
support except what the charitable left at his door. His vocation was
zero - his avocation was flying kites. Yes, that’s what I said,
flying kites. And since he did not play cards or indulge in Loshon
Hara and he stayed away from the village tavern, he had no friends
except every child in the village under the age of twelve who were
also enchanted with the heavenly flight of kites.
When Cheder was out they flocked around Israel. Every afternoon
except on the Sabbath and holidays they paraded down the road. They
either brought their own kites or they flew his. And strangely
enough, windy or not, the kites soared. Israel was the only adult
they knew who demanded nothing of the children. No chores around the
house or farm for the peasant boy, no stacking or carrying inventory
for the sons of merchants. Not even study for the Yeshiva students.
One of the older and wiser children, though, was curious.
“Israel,” (they always called him by his first name) “what do you do
besides fly kites? My father says you either have a rich uncle or a
“I wait,” replied Israel.
“And what do you wait for?”
“I just wait.” He looked away as he adjusted the cross rib on one of
his best fliers. “One day, when you are no longer interested in kites
you will understand, I hope.” And his face gleamed like that of Moses
when he came down from the Mountain.
Now on the other side of this Cosmos, back in the village, life as
usual was difficult. Almost impossible to cope with the difficulty of
earning enough silver coins to feed your family. Corruption,
cossacks, disease and the drought, were relentless adversaries which
wiped out your crop, your family or both. And of course, the village
people weren’t ethically perfect. The Jewish community had its share
of wife beaters, drunks, burglars, con men, and even worse. They were
a typical mix of humanity (with hearts of good and evil) beset by the
chilling winds of the world’s adversity. They, too, struggled for
understanding: and coped anyway they could get away with - most of
which drew inspiration from their faith, and it must be admitted, with
a little help from the evil half of the heart. Tzadiks (truly righteous men) were as rare
as lilies in the garbage dump. Sad to say, many did not follow the
advice of the prophets to walk in the ways of the Lord. Some strayed
dizzily, some stepped to a different path far away
Like all of G-d’s creatures, from the hungry child to the bandit’s
victim, they complained, but kept hope alive in their hearts. Just
wait, they said to console each other. “Someday the Messiah will
come. Hunger, disease, and injustice will be faint memories.” They
wait. So does He.
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from the October 2010 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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