When I was a kid, I loved to sit on our front steps in the summer rain. My mom would open the front door and tell me to "come inside, before you catch pneumonia!" But I loved sitting out there, on the stoop. And I would sit there until she discovered me, and made me come inside, where it was warm and dry......
Now I live in Israel, where there are no summer rains. In Jerusalem, the rain falls in the winter; the rain is cold and chills you to the bone. Here, winter rains really can cause pneumonia, or, at least, a really nasty cold.
Two years ago, there was an "early "rain. The weather was still warm and the rain reminded me of the rain of my youth. The rain fell in early October (or maybe even late September)...
A few weeks earlier, on September 5th, I had my first surgery to remove breast cancer. Baruch HaShem (Thank God), I had family and many friends who helped me during that difficult period. One of my good friends, B, really wanted to help also. But she lives on a kibbutz in Emek Beit She'an, and there was nothing I needed from someone so far away. We went to my in-laws for Rosh HaShannah. Then we stayed home for Yom Kippur; and we broke the fast with my sister, who made all of our family's traditional "break-fast" foods. Succot was three days later, and I didn't know what we would do. I was still recoverying, and very weak. There was no way I could help put up a Succah in our new home, and I wasn't up for camping or hopping from friend to friend, as we had done in past years.
Suddenly I realized that B could help in a way that no one else could.
I called her and asked if we could come for Succot, for Yom Tov and a few days of Chol HaMoed. We would use the kibbutz as our base and go on day trips in the area. The Kibbutz makes a giant Succah, so B's family wouldn't need to go to extreme trouble to host us, and it would be a real experience for the kids to see how the kibbutz celebrates Succot. I would get to spend time with a really good friend and my family would get a real vacation, without too much effort on my part. It was a perfect solution, and B and her family were only too happy to host us.
Perhaps another time, I'll write about the beautiful kibbutz succah, or kibbutz succah hopping, or our visit to the Beit She'an antiquities, or the friends we ran into.... But this post is about the first (or maybe it was the second) day of Hol HaMoed:
We planned to go to Sachneh (Gan HaShlosha), a local park, with natural hot springs. But, that morning, the sky was cloudy and we had to cancel our trip. Sachneh would not be safe if there was thunder and lightning. Not surprisingly, our kids were disappointed. We were having a difficult time coming up with an exciting alternative plan. We took the morning slowly.... maybe the weather would change and we'd be able to go after all...
Sure enough, mid-morning, it started to rain. But there was no thunder, and no lightning.
The day was warm, and the rain was just the way I liked it.
My eyes lit up and I told my kids: "Go out and play in the rain!"
They looked at me as if I landed from out of the sky. "But Ima, it's raining!" They chimed.
"I know," I responded with a grin, "go run in the rain and jump in the puddles!"
"But we'll get our clothes wet!" (whose kids were these???)
"So put on bathing suits" I countered.
That actually seemed to work, and they changed into bathing suits. But when they oppened the door, they were too embarrassed to walk outside in their bathing suits (they were all of 7, 9 and 11). But the "door" had been opened....
"OK, get out of your suits and put on your clothes." I commanded, "Don't worry about getting your clothes wet. Afterwards, you'll change into dry clothes and we'll wash and dry the wet ones." They were beginning to consider it....
It took a bit more convincing, but eventually I got my kids out of the door. They were hesitant at first, but then nature took over. They walked, then ran, then jumped and rolled through many puddles. They played outside for at least an hour. And when they came in, they wanted to share every detail of their experience.
They had made up a dance, which they performed for us.
And they met a very concerned kibbutznik, who was worried about these wild children playing in the rain. "You should go inside", she scolded my kids, "Your mother wouldn't want you playing in the rain". "It's okay," they answered, "our mother is the one who told us to play in the rain." I wish I could have seen that lady's face! But I saw my kids' faces and they were beaming!
We all had a great laugh!
Then, while the kids took hot showers, Moshe and I scoured the neighbors' video collection and found Star Wars.
We spent the rest of the afternoon, warm and dry, watching Star Wars and eating popcorn.
A perfect ending to a perfect day!
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,