Whatever the Weather

The rain falls in sheets in Tel Aviv in January. The skies can be blue for hours so that the suddenness of the rain is as surprising as its force. Other times, the entire atmosphere, from the sky above to the ground under my feet seems to be rain-filled so that I am walking inside of clouds.

The sunshine in January here is equally curious. I leave the apartment, expecting to feel the warmth of the sun, and all I feel is bone-deep cold. The temperatures are certainly not at the freezing level of back home in New Jersey, and yet I feel the wind as a raw, biting thing. I am walking inside of a melting iceberg.

As my grandmother, and probably your grandmother, used to say: “There is no bad weather, only the wrong clothing”. And so I pile on layers, put on a hat, and even wear gloves when it appears that no one in Tel Aviv even owns them. I wear wool socks and carry an umbrella everywhere.

For his part, Carmel seems oblivious to the weather that concerns his Bubbe. He kicks off the blanket I tuck in all around his legs, toddles around the playground in just his tread-bottomed socks, and sits behind the rain protector over his stroller like a king.

The weather, like life itself, is all about one’s perspective. When I called my cousin to see if she expected me at the Hertzliya Train Station at 12 or 12:30 to meet for our lunch, she told me she thought I was calling to cancel because it was raining. I laughed.

I am so deeply grateful to have been able to fly to Israel during my sabbatical, nothing will keep me inside. Except when I want to stay inside!

Both the pandemic and this sabbatical have taught me not to feel pressure to achieve some maximum amount in a given timeframe. I am relishing the freedom of focusing on one thing at a time. I pray quietly and with intense intentions. I practice yoga on my own, on a mat rolled out in Sarah and Sagi‘s living room, taking whatever shapes come into my mind. I take classes virtually, write in my journal, and take long walks through my beloved Tel Aviv. And I pick up Carmel from gan (childcare) every day at 4:00 and have wonderful adventures with him until we return home for dinner, bath, and bed.

I have always thought of time as a container to fill to the top with meaningful activity and accomplishment. Filling that container each day has kept me motivated, passionate, and fulfilled. It has also, however, kept me stressed, on edge, running from one thing to the next. My next appointment would begin before my last even finished. I never felt my To Do list was done.

I am finally learning that time is something that simply unfolds, much like the weather, and my task is to move along with it. I cannot control it. Why not just live inside of it?

So most days, I button up and go out into the world of Tel Aviv, to walk along Dizengoff Street or to stop at one of the outdoor cafés for a latte. Neither the weather nor the time of day matters. But on other days, like today, I just stay indoors, start the cooking for Shabbat, and write a blog post to let you all know that I am thinking of you.

In this week’s Torah portion, Yitro watches his son-in-law Moshe exhaust himself by counseling and judging the Israelites from morning to night all alone. He offers Moshe a reframe: “What you are doing is not good. You need to delegate responsibilities. You need to take a break.”

Rabbi Scheff and I were blessed many years ago with a loving relationship with Bernie Schiffmiller z”l, a congregant and Yitro of our own, who used to say to us, “You’ll be no good to anyone if you don’t take care of yourselves.”

And today, we have all of you, our OJC family, who grant your rabbis sabbaticals with the same loving generosity.

As for me, I am learning about the weather and about time. And this week, I am getting ready to receive Torah once again.

May your days all be sunny or rainy and may you relish whichever they are!

Rabbi Paula Mack Drill

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6 responses to “Whatever the Weather”

  1. Lydia Katz says :

    This blog was actually therapeutic to me. I tend to chastise myself if I haven’t done everything I planned to in a day. Reading your conclusions and seeing Carmel’s amazing smile warmed my heart. I am so grateful for all the positive things in my life that that is what I will strive to concentrate on.Bernie was so right. You cannot be good for anyone else if you are not good to yourself. Enjoy your visit and stay safe. We will see you soon.

  2. Sheila Bunin says :

    My heart swells with love and pride for you. I’m so happy that you can relax and savor this time with your beloved grandson and away from other obligations. Thank you for sharing your feelings and wisdom. I found myself taking deep, slow breaths after reading your words. Whether here or in Israel, you inspire us. Gratefully, Sheila

  3. Suzy says :

    I always appreciate the posts you right. I am so happy for you that you were able to go to Israel after your recovery and are able to spend time with your beloved grandson and children. I hope that I will learn to be more accepting of what happens in a day. I still have not mastered the skill of just “being” and not having a to do list that I need to accomplish every day. I think I am not alone in that. Every day, people will ask me, what is your plan for tomorrow? What are you doing today? I know I have a lot to do now to get settled in Florida, but I need to learn from your example. So happy for you.

  4. Annette Diskin says :

    SO HAPPY YOU MADE IT TO ISRAEL FOR MANY REASONS. TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOU WHILE ENJOYING THE BEAUTIFUL CHILD. THE PHOTO OF THE TWO OF YOU IS SO PRECIOUS IT MAKES ME SMILE JUST TO LOOK AT IT.SHABBAT SHALOM!! ANNETTE(DISKIN)

  5. Cat Cantor says :

    ❤️

  6. Maxine Skopov says :

    So glad you are enjoying your sabbatical! Give Carmel a big squishy hug from all of us at OJC.

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