Saturday, November 14, 2009

Of Mice and Men

I encountered two kinds of Israeli teens today. One in a Jerusalem Post article, the other in my neighborhood. First, I encountered a rather unpleasant sort of youth. As my kids were playing in the playground up the block from my house I noticed some bodies rustling in the trees and bushes on the hill just above. Being the arab-phobic that I am, I kept a vigilant watch on them to make sure these were not unwelcome guests. Then they started some kind of cat calling, making some strange noises that would not be unusual in my household, but totally inappropriate for those over the age of 6. At least, I figured, they were probably not Arabs. If they were out to get us, I would think that they would have the sense to be a little more inconspicuous. So I kept half and eye and ignored them. But then the profanities began. Like it’s such a thrill to shout an American curse word. Still, my kids didn’t notice, so I kept quiet. Next they started the weird noises again, only this time child #2 got wind of it and decided to chime in. They were going back and forth, and for a moment there it was all ok, but then they started with the stupid 4 letter words again. Thank Gd, my kids don’t know those words yet, but I do. What I wanted to say to them (in Hebrew if I could) was “if you think it’s so cool to say those facacta words to a five-year-old, then buy a one-way ticket to New York and stay there.” Instead, what I yelled up was “If you say that again, I’m coming up there.” Ooh…as if I look the least bit threatening. I doubt they understood any English other than the 4 letter variety, but at least it got them quiet. Thank Gd, later I read about Uriel Ben-Hamo, a chareidi who is also a boxing champion. This kid represents the best of us. He is strong physically and spiritually. Even more importantly, he combines the two. There is no duality. Boxing enhances his Torah learning, and spirituality is a big part of his boxing success. At the age of 18 he has become Isreal’s kick-boxing champion. His secret to success is hard work, prayer, and saying the shema in every corner of the ring before a match. By the way, his prayers are not just that he should win – it’s that neither he nor his opponent should be terribly hurtin the process. And somehow, I don’t think that you would ever find him standing on a hilltop watching children play and feeling the need to flex his muscles by yelling out in foul language. Israel could certainly use more Uriel’s, truly strong inside and out.

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