We’re in our new home, enjoying the chance to re-organize our things, find places, make it ours. I’ve been unpacking boxes, filling bookshelves, rinsing and storing dishes and just loving the chance to start in a fresh place that we own, after renting for 8 years. Elie is home for the weekend, as is my second son.
My husband is busy packing and setting to right the place where we were, while I am fixing up this house. I’m desperately trying to leave things uncluttered, open, and airy. Piles of clean laundry have been folded and I’ve left it to my youngest daughter to sort by person. It’s easier for her to complain, at 9 years of age, than it is to quickly sort through the piles.
She keeps asking me who is “L” (those are Elie’s clothes, I tell her). “Who is S?” she asks.
“That’s Shmulik’s,” I tell her. She laughs when she tells me that her youngest brother (who is four years OLDER than her), wears a size 14.5, while she is wearing a size 18. I’ve decided not to explain that he, at the age of 13, has grown so much he’s now wearing a man’s size, while hers is still measured in little girl sizes.
“Where should I put the towels?” she asks. She carefully sorts a pile for small towels and another for large ones. “Is this a small towel?” she asked next.
“Who’s name is “Z’vah?” she asks. The army of Israel is known as Z’vah Haganah L’Yisrael – Israel Defense Forces (IDF) – but the order of Hebrew sentence structure is different than in English. In English, you say “blue table” while in Hebrew it would be correct to say “table blue” – I know it sounds funny in English, but it works in Hebrew (and the English would sound equally funny to Hebrew ears). So “forces” or army is actually the first word in the name of the Israeli army, and not the last.
Elie’s uniforms are stamped with the word “Zahal” – an abbreviation equivalent to IDF, or “Z’vah” meaning army/forces.
“Those are Elie’s,” I answered her automatically.
“Of course, everyone knows that,” she answered. I smiled back at her and thought – she’s sweet…and she doesn’t have a clue that in less than a year, it will be Shmulik’s uniforms she folds and sorts, not Elie’s. For her, now, it is all so clear. All this time, I have thought of myself as a soldier’s mother and given only passing thoughts to her role as a soldier’s sister.
“Of course” she feels, everyone knows that her brother is a soldier, that he wears this uniform and that the uniform is his. He’s back home to tease her now, order her around and give her jobs. Soon the Sabbath will come and bring with it a break from boxes, packing and unpacking. Already, the house is full of the scents of Shabbat. Soup, fish, chicken, salads, are all prepared. I have to close the computer so that we can set the table – I’ll do that now.
Yesterday, a rocket was fired at Israel and heard in some of our southern towns – with great mercy from God, it hit in an open area and no one was injured. I no longer contemplate whether the open field hit this time was one holding our soldiers only a few short months ago. Today, an Arab was arrested with a knife, a soldier was attacked while on guard and his gun was stolen. There were incidents of stoning and rioting and yet, with Elie home, I have the luxury of pulling inside my beautiful new home, allowing my family to gather and welcome the Sabbath peace.
Shabbat shalom – may it come in peace and bless all who rejoice in it.