Posted by Chava Tombosky
When I was in fourth grade my father asked me, “Chava what Torah portion are you learning?” “The story of the wells, in the chapter called Toldos.” In fifth grade, my father asked me, “Chava what Torah portion are you studying this year?” “Toldos, the one about Jacob and Aisav.”, I’d say. Sixth grade was pretty much the same, and so was seventh, eighth, ninth….
By the time I reached Tenth grade my father decided Toldos week was a monumental holiday and so it was that the week the Toldos Portion was read in Synagogue was a week we’d gather together. No matter what had taken place, divorce, remarriage, family dysfunction that consisted of long cold silent treatments, our family still managed to gather for Toldos. And on each year on Monday, my father would ask me, for old time sake- “Guess what parshah it is this week?”
I always wondered what made Toldos as much celebrated and coveted by us as Christmas morning is to Baptist children. Much like kids who eat ham once a year, we too count the days down and wait for our Toldos to arrive with glee and excitement. Although there were no presents or stocking stuffers we did talk about it for weeks before it arrived and my kids would sing “Zadee Ta is coming to town…” much like the Santa song. Toldos is usually before Thanksgiving and the giving season, so hot apple cider is in the air and allspice is on sale at the supermarket. When I think of Toldos, I think of turkey, stuffing and canned pumpkin pie. For years Toldos became our Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled into one. Technically it wasn’t Hanukkah yet, so we didn’t need to stick to blue as the color scheme. It became our weekend to go crazy with American colors like orange, red and green.
I went back and read through the portion to cast a little insight on what lesson I can glean from Toldos.
My father’s Hebrew name was Michoel, like the angel. There are few places in the Torah that it mentions Michoel the angel. The first place is read in Parshat Vayeira in the book of Genesis. In this portion, which is read two weeks before Toldos, it is brought down that Michoel’s job was to tell Abraham and Sarah they would have a child despite their old age. Sarah laughed upon hearing this news and when she did give birth a year later, she named her son Isaac, which means laughter.
Michoel brought on laughter and was the bearer of good news.
The next time we hear about The Angel Michoel, is in Parshat Toldos. Isaac’s wife is pregnant with twins. The sages say the twins fought inside her womb, causing her much discomfort. It is brought down that the fighting took place between Aisav’s angel and Jacob’s angel- Michoel.
Michoel fought for the underdog and prevailed.
Toldos also talks about the wells that Isaac dug, and how he had to spend his whole life digging out the wells the Pelishtim clogged up. It was arduous work, and it felt never ending, and like some obstacles you can’t see the light at the end of it, but it was those wells that cared for the Jewish people when they returned to the land of Israel.
These wells that flowed with the vitality of life, the sustenance of energy and that were lined with the clean water that told the Jewish people upon entering their land, you shall persevere and live despite your wanderings and the hardships you have endured. These are the wells that are spoken about in this portion, Parshat Toldos.
This year we will gather again on Parshat Toldos for wine and Turkey on our Christmas paper plates and good family times. No one will be calling me on Monday to say “Guess what parsha it is this week?” But I am warmed with the thought that I have an angel in heaven who is fighting for me, who is laughing with me, and who sees my arduous spirit of grief at work making room for life, for my own vitality and for the promise that one day although this obstacle is high, there is light at the end of it, indeed.
4.11.13 at 9:59 pm |
3.10.13 at 11:38 pm | Next week I kept telling myself. Next week I will. . .
2.7.13 at 9:55 pm | “You know, there is one other wine in the house. . .
1.21.13 at 12:58 am | One of our generation's biggest problems is the. . .
12.21.12 at 12:23 pm | ....immersing ourselves in this tragic news. . .
11.14.12 at 5:17 pm | Do our negative thoughts and fears have the power. . .
4.11.13 at 9:59 pm | (14)
9.22.10 at 6:34 pm | Lucky for us, we don’t have to wait a year to. . . (6)
10.21.10 at 12:17 am | She doesn't save a thing...... (5)
October 26, 2010 | 6:42 pm
Posted by Chava Tombosky
I walk into the Apple store and am immediately alarmed by my out of place greeter named Steven who is in his late 60’s. He tells me that my computer, which needs a new battery will also need a personalized service technician who is twelve, and the wait is four hours.
Being that I am uncomfortable with the fact that everyone is wearing blue except for me, I try bribing Steven with a Latte with hopes that I can be squeezed in sooner. Steven doesn’t like my attitude or my charm and immediately directs me to Cate. That’s right it’s Cate with a C, who immediately has her own little attitude and tells me my broken laptop will cost me $130 and an evaluation will be recommended to determine the exact defect, which will be a long wait. Cate is blonde and bossy and likes her i-pad more than she likes real live people.
“However,” she says, “If you choose to wait stand-by you will save a little bit of money- but the wait may be long and you haven’t made an appointment.”
“How long is the wait? And how much is the discount?”
“I don’t know, like five dollars and two hours.”
“Well if you don’t know, could you please ask another fourteen year old with a blue shirt who might have the numbers down more accurately?”
Cate with a C heads over to Veronica who tells her if I wait the savings could add up to Thirty dollars. That’s twenty-five more bucks than Cate with a C thought I’d be able to save. Once again, I beg her to let me squeeze in before her next fifteenth birthday. Cate checks her i-pad as accurately as Tom Cruise can navigate his way on Mission Impossible and I charm her with my empty compliments stating her nail polish is rockin awesome.
Yes, an opening is in thirty minutes, not four hours. Of course it is. Cate with a C clearly had a bias against my body odor and lack of hygiene due to coming straight from the gym.
While waiting to be serviced by the Genius Bar, Oscar approaches me. He’s another pubescent adolescent who asks me if I need any help. I mention to him that I have been helped but that I wouldn’t mind someone who knows how to build a website, and does he do this sort of thing? Oscar’s voice dips to a whisper. He proceeds to take me over to a laptop and pretends he is selling me the latest Mac book. Without looking up he states, “They are watching us all the time. I cannot give you too much information right now, i.e., my phone number, email address or even real name, but I can help you. Facebook me later. I also edit movies.”
(Of course he does.)
“Oscar isn’t your real name?”
“No, shh, keep looking at the Mac book or they will take away my blue shirt. I look good in blue.”
I now assume that everyone who is wearing a blue shirt with a name tag are all using fake names and are undercover editors and techy geeks from Dell who have managed to hijack Apple and kidnap Steve Jobs for their own profitable gain.
Veronica calls me over and examines my computer. “That will be a hundred bucks.”
I look through my purse and realize I have not brought my Amex card and my debit card is out of money, but my computer must get fixed. I call my husband in a panic wondering if I can place the hundred dollars on his Visa card.
Suddenly Veronica comes back gives me a sweet smile and states, “You’re all good to go, today is on me.”
“What? Just like that? It’s not going to cost me a thing?”
“Nope. You’re good to go.”
All I wanna know is, where is Steve Jobs and what have they done with his mother?
I love Apple.
I want a blue shirt.
October 21, 2010 | 12:17 am
Posted by Chava Tombosky
She shuts down when you least expect her to.
She doesn’t save a thing.
She yells the time at you- “Its 12 o’ clock!”
She looses all important documents.
She passes out on you when you’re trying to communicate with her.
She has hissy fits and refuses to respond.
She has no idea how to speak to me without that irritating whine.
She insists she’s smarter than I am.
She never listens to my demands, and when she finally does, it is only because I’ve have paid hundreds if not thousands of dollars to some third party to intervene.
She manipulates my commands.
She is totally unreliable.
She is hell bent on having a hard drive if she is going to participate voluntarily.
Eventually they turn 18 and they leave.
October 6, 2010 | 8:39 pm
Posted by Chava Tombosky
When I was a kid our family loved taking road trips. We had an RV. Not the sort of RV that was a trailer, but the kind that had state-of-the-art awnings and pull out beds above the driver’s seat with fancy bedspreads and groovy CB radios. My dad loved his RV. He loved the opened road, the mosquitos that squished dead on the windshield and the peanut butter pickle sandwiches that my mom served for lunch.
He loved listening to songs like “Home, home on the range” and being the only Jew who could proudly say he knew how to take his RV to the dump. He loved getting to know Americans of all kinds and meeting people in Montana who insisted his Jewish prayer shawl strings were for pheasant hunting expeditions.
Most of all he loved to tell us stories between destinations. One afternoon while driving through the Rockies we noticed “Falling Rock” written on large yellow diamond signposts every few miles. In between “where the deer and the buffalo roam” and “seldom is heard a discouraging word…” my dad came up with the greatest story that explained what these signposts meant.
I’ve vacillated back and forth whether to retell this story, and decided it’s worth sharing, eventhough it may not be the most “Rebbetzin-ish story”. But my dad was after all a gutts and butts doc. Burping at the dinner table was considered a compliment, and all other human gestures were considered expected if not tolerated. For those who find it funny, please chuckle. For those who are offended, I’m pulling out my license to say whatever I want mourner card. Plus I like pushing the envelope now and again, hoping someone will get hugely offended and write some lame comment.
Here it goes:
“Many years ago a King wanted to find his daughter a husband to marry. And so the King proclaimed that whomever captured the strongest Bull that roamed on the outskirts of the countryside and managed to bring it back to the King, would have the honor of marrying the very beautiful Princess Ava. (That was me.)
Two fellows stood up who were stronger and braver than all in the land. One’s name was “Falling Rock” and the other was “Bear Claw.” The two men set out on their way to find the one and only Bull living on the outskirts of the countryside when after many weeks, “Bear Claw” finally arrived carrying the Bull over his shoulder in victory.
Bear Claw won the maiden’s hand in marriage, but to this day Falling Rock never did make it back. Which is why, throughout the world, signs are posted everywhere with the name “Falling Rock,” hoping one day, Falling Rock will be found and restored to claim his second prize, the Bull’s gonads.”
Kind of obvious why Falling Rock went awol.
(And please don’t write any comments- I’m very fragile right now.)
October 3, 2010 | 11:32 am
Posted by Chava Tombosky
Like a tide drifting, a thick quiet hovers as the clicking of heels and dress shoes exit the room leaving the rest of us to a muted hush. The alive sound of gurgling babies and chattering children dissipates and dissolves into the background as the room stills into a mournful soulless whisper. A haunting silence stalks me. Those who have been in the confines of these hallowed secluded walls stare at those of us who sit with ignorant discomfort for the first time. I have gone on to the other side. I am no longer one of them. The group that gets to leave Yizkor. Rather, I am part of a collective consciousness that has witnessed the pale of death and have seen the shadow of His Majesty give life and taketh. Eyes glance at me and my three sisters, the young newcomers. Much too young to be in this room. This is the place that holds the relics who remember the unforgotten and memorialize our lawyers up in heaven. Familiar warm stares, a knowing nod, and charitable gestures are exchanged. Its as if several moments of Shiva have been implanted into this space for what feels like an eternity. I take a deep breath and close my eyes amongst the thick eery and noiseless stillness that waves through the murmuring prayers like a glassy pond unruffled by the stagnant smell of loss and I remember his face, his warm body that used to hold me, his eyes that saw me unconditionally. I am reminded of my fragility.
Every man and woman sitting during Yizkor knows that time moves like a salty quivering wave in the ocean blue. That nothing stays the same. And that life swells with loss at different times. We have seen the other side. Our perspective has been pushed to another perimeter of comprehension. We have grasped the unthinkable and we live with the bitter taste that life’s other side of the coin is indeed a quiet that can never be quelled. Yizkor is meant to assuage the changes of time and pacify the puzzled who have scowled at the facade of shatterproof infinity, for we are the only witnesses to the sincerity and fact that infinity lies only with The Maker Himself.
I am not crying. I am still. I am embalmed in a memory that kindly holds me like a swaddled cocoon forever protecting my fragile psyche.
Like a crashing wave billowing down in a sudden sweep, the room fills up again with clamoring infants, children, and adults taking their recognized places. Yizkor is over and the ignorant have not witnessed our reserved ceremony. The moment is interrupted and I am left with a clashing of congregants who know not what my new space holds.
The prayer of Mussaf begins. It is the eighth day of Sukkot known as Shmini Atzeret and we are about to welcome prayers of rain. The chazzan bellows a prayer with great fervor. I recognize this prayer. I remember singing these words as a child, the song is etched in my mind,
“For You are the Lord our God, who causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall. Remember us for a blessing and not for a curse, for life and not for death, for plenty and not for scarcity.”
The singing and chanting smells of inspiration and great fervor. Finally tears flow down my cheeks as the realization and reassuring reality carries me to this moment. Yes, I have witnessed death, I have tasted loss, yet I am still standing here, and my prayers of the entire month have culminated to this very moment. Bring me blessings not curses, life not death, plenty not scarcity. I am bewildered by the chasm of emotions, the dichotomy of life. For in one moment I can be honoring and testifying the horrors of loss, and the next moment I can be observing and watching the echoes of hope of song and of optimism.
Tomorrow when the first day of the new year really begins, I will swim with the wave when it pushes me, and I will tread with the tide when it carries me. I will sing and I will cry. And I will know this year I am guided by the Compass that I cannot see, yet that sees me always and forever.