Who Was That Mother Sobbing at the Graduation?
Yesterday I passed by a low-calorie falafel stand in Talpiot.
And I remembered the low-calorie falafel stand in the shuk which closed after a few months (or was it weeks?).
It’s funny. Falafel is my favorite food. And I only eat it a few times a year. Because it’s just SO fattening.
So why didn’t I ever try the low-calorie falafel? Same food, less calories! What could be better?
But low-calorie falafel? That’s like parve icecream! Or Israeli corn on the cob! Or bad kosher Chinese where they make lo mein out of spaghetti!
I just couldn’t eat low-calorie falafel after getting a taste of the real thing.
Last week I saw a young tourist in his mid-twenties on the light rail.
His upper arm was tattooed with the following list:
His trip’s itinerary permanently recorded on his skin.
And I remembered my own travels around the world before I settled down in Israel and became religious and got married.
Back then, I could have made my own list on my own sleeveless arm…
And how ridiculous that would have been! To memorialize those relatively short trips into my skin for eternity.
I understand that after 22 years breathing and walking and growing up in the Land of Israel. The real thing.
When I first got married, twice a week I volunteered with a 12-year-old mentally-handicapped girl named Sarit in one of Jerusalem’s poorest neighborhoods.
Sarit’s relationship with her mother was terrible. Sarit would boss around her mother and scream at her.
The truth is, while I grew very fond of Sarit, I felt sorry for her mother on account of all the suffering Sarit caused her.
So I was a bit surprised when, at Sarit’s graduation from elementary school, I saw the mother working her way through a nachas-drenched package of tissues as she watched the girl whom she had raised with so much effort and difficulty finish 6th grade.
At first, I was shocked by the mother’s tears.
But then, as I watched her, I got it.
The connection between pain and pleasure. Between effort and joy.
The investment, I see now looking back, of every mother, for every child.
Hour after hour, day after day, year after year.
Even when it’s difficult.
Even when we don’t want to.
Not low-calorie falafel.
Or ten cities in 10 days.
The connection, I pray we will all see, between the real thing
And IY”H real happiness.