The Gadsden flag is a historical American flag — DON’T TREAD ON ME !!! …item 2.. My Difficult Neighbor (June 18, 2012 / 28 Sivan 5772) …
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Yet I could not live with this slow torture and knew I needed advice. But from whom? .. I had an unusual idea. I’m here in Israel, the land of the Bible. Why not find out what the Torah would say about this?
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Thursday, April 3, 2014
My Enemy, My Friend … "We are not happy with the orthodox taking over the block.
We are reform Jews. Don’t even think of trying to influence us!”
…..item 1)….. aish.com … www.aish.com/sp/so
HOME SPIRITUALITY SPIRITUAL ODYSSEYS … My Enemy, My Friend …
My new neighbor wanted nothing to do with religious Jews.
img code photo…..My Enemy, My Friend
June 19, 2011 / 17 Sivan 5771
by Rochel Feld
Today I lost a friend, someone who was initially my adversary.
Chava Leah Bas Feivel returned her soul to her maker. I miss her already.
Our unlikely friendship began five years ago. We were preparing to move into a new home. Right away there was tension and I had not yet even met my new neighbor. She kept calling the police and the building inspector to say our grass wasn’t cut short enough or often enough. Or maybe a soda can was left by the painters in the driveway. Everyday was a new summons and a new nightmare. Was this how everyone was welcomed to the neighborhood?
"We are not happy with the orthodox taking over the block. We are reform Jews. Don’t even think of trying to influence us!”
Come moving day, my new next door neighbor, a woman in her mid-70s introduced herself. “Hi I’m your neighbor, we are not happy with the orthodox taking over the block. We are reform Jews. Don’t even think of trying to influence us!”
She left me with my jaw still on the floor. “Hi… I guess.”
That was just the beginning. The police were called regularly if a ball rolled into her yard. So the kids had to play on the street. Well wouldn’t you know it, there is a long lost, rarely enforced ordinance that ball playing on the street is not allowed in my New Jersey town. Guess who made sure it was enforced now?
We lived in constant fear of this woman, never knowing what tomorrow would bring.
My husband, who is a lot nicer and more level headed than me, came up with a strategy for defense: let’s overwhelm her with kindness!
You’re kidding, I thought.
"Send her Shabbos flowers," my husband suggested, "but have them delivered because if she catches you on her property…"
Any how we sent her Purim shalach manos, invited her to our daughter’s wedding and our son’s bar mitzvah celebration. She had never attended orthodox celebrations before and she had so many questions, needed so many answers. She was so taken by the meaning of it all, how everything had significance. She was moved by how Judaism was a way of life for us, in our celebrations, our mourning, even our rituals upon waking up.
Shortly after, she fell ill. She left a message on our answering machine, "I’m sick in the hospital, don’t really know who else to call, thought you may want to come visit."
Really? You want me… to visit you?
And so I did. I went to visit her a few times until she returned home.
While in the hospital, the Jewish chaplin left several books on my neighbor’s bedside on various topics on Judaism. Some were complex and she asked me to explain these concepts to her.
Once she returned home I would try to go over each day to bring some meals and provide some good cheer, but she wanted me to explain to her the concepts in these books.
It came to the point that if I was not able to make it one day, there was a message on my answering machine, “Where are you? I need my fix of Torah.”
“Where are you? I need my fix of Torah.”
We learned the weekly Torah portion and the wonderful lessons gleaned, we discussed the purpose of life, the soul after death, the reasons for certain mitzvot, studied the meanings of various prayers, about the holidays, and any questions that came to her mind.
As she recovered we had her and her husband over for Shabbos meals. "Your children sit with you at the table for three hours every week?" she asked in astonishment. "They sing and laugh together every week? Your six-year-old knows the parsha each week?"
I explained that the secret is the Shabbos itself.
My neighbor became a regular at our home every Friday night, on time to light the Shabbos candles with me and to study the weekly Torah portion.
I would take her to various Torah classes in the neighborhood that I thought would be of interest to her.
She would often come to sit in my kitchen on a Thursday to smell and taste the food being prepared for Shabbos as we discussed all kinds of philosophical concepts.
My new friend left no stone unturned, never had a question she didn’t ask.
The police were never again called and my children became her “adopted grandchildren.”
“So, what is your daughter wearing for Shabbos this week?, Isn’t your son graduating high school this month? Isn’t the older one ready for a shidduch soon?”
This is the story of my friend who spoke with God each day. My friend who sought out to help others. To cheer up everyone she met, to enlighten them by urging them to consider the higher purpose for which they were created.
My friend who got sick and told me she sees the hand of God is with her every moment.
My friend who got sick and could not hold on any longer.
We said the Shema together when she could barely speak anymore.
My friend, I will miss your messages on my machine and joining us on Friday nights.
You studied so hard to make up for all the years you did not know. And now you know. Now it’s all clear to you.
I will cherish all the times you challenged me to become a better version of myself. To study harder, to prepare more, to do more research to quench your thirst for yiddishkeit.
When we started you didn’t understand that the end of this life is the beginning of something on an even higher realm. Now you know.
My dear reader, perhaps you have a neighbor, a co-worker or relative who seems antagonistic toward Judaism and observant Jews. They may actually be calling out to you. They may see the beauty in the life you lead and yearn for it too.
See past their anger and sarcasm. Reach out to them.
May this be a merit for the neshama of Chava Leah Bas Feivel
…..item 2)…. aish. com … www.aish.com/sp …
HOME SPIRITUALITY PERSONAL GROWTH
My Difficult Neighbor
How I stopped the harassment and changed my life.
img code photo … My Difficult Neighbor
June 18, 2012 / 28 Sivan 5772
by Zelda Cutler
I wanted to like my neighbor, I really did. But it wasn’t easy.
Not long after I arrived in Israel, I bought an apartment in Jerusalem. It was small – about the size of a Manhattan studio apartment – but it was mine and I felt on top of the world.
But then there was my neighbor.
I met Albert the first week I moved in. I was working in Jerusalem with the foreign press and had gone out on assignment. I arrived home about 10:30 p.m. and as I turned the key, I heard a noise. I swung around to see a short, stocky man about 40, standing in his doorway in pajamas. "You woke me up!” he yelled, his finger stabbing wildly at the air. "Why did you come so late? You have to be home at 10 o’clock!"
I looked at him in disbelief. "You’re not my father," I said. "You can’t tell me what to do."
After that, he tried to be friendly. Originally from Morocco, he’d been working as a house painter but was fired after a fight with his boss. He offered to fix up my apartment. “No thanks,” I politely said. “I like my apartment just fine.”
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A week later, I ran into him in the hall. It was hard not to cross paths since our doors faced each other directly, about four feet apart. He tried to make conversation.
"Look," he said, "you’re alone, I’m alone. Why don’t you invite me for kos café (a cup of coffee), just to be friends."
I mumbled something inane like, "I don’t have any coffee."
The situation grew chillier due to my dog’s barking. Albert complained, so to keep the peace I often took the dog with me when I went out. I’d leave her in the car with all the windows open. But I couldn’t take her with me all the time, especially when I had to work.
A deafening blast of noise was followed by silence, again and again.
One day I ran into my neighbor outside on the walkway. He looked at me with wild, darting eyes. I didn’t know if his fury was because of my dog or something else. He suddenly spat on the ground in front of me. I was horrified.
Things went steadily downhill after that. One day when I arrived home, I literally jumped up in alarm over a deafening blast of noise. It was coming from my neighbor’s radio. Then there was silence, followed a few seconds later by another blast. This was repeated day after day. Loud, soft, loud, soft.
He’s trying to get me to move, I thought. He’s trying to drive me crazy.
His next modus operandi was to open both his door and his windows so the door would slam shut with a bang. As time went on, the more nervous I became.
When I would return home from an assignment, my neighbor would hear me come in. I would sit down but couldn’t relax. I would wonder, "What’s he going to do next?"
I tried contacting his social worker and a community psychiatrist to see if they could get him to move. They told me that since he had not physically injured me, there was nothing they could do.
Weeks of annoyances turned into two years of harassment. I was beginning to think maybe I was ready for the psychiatrist.
Related Article: My Neighbors, My Heroes, Part 2
—– Moving Forward
One night close to midnight, I realized I didn’t have clean clothes, so I ran the washing machine. Suddenly, there was knock on the door, more like an explosion. I looked through the peephole to see Albert, his eyes bulging with rage. "Turn that machine off!" he screamed. "I can’t sleep!" I apologized and turned it off immediately.
The next morning when Albert saw me, he spat on the ground and screamed, "I’m going to kill you!!" Till then it was a cold war; now it was a conflagration. I went straight to the police.
The desk officer was assertive. "This man threatened your life," he said. "You should bring charges."
I pressed charges and a court date was set. But then I began thinking. What if Albert winds up in jail? He’ll be in the company of hardened criminals, and then when he gets out he’ll blame me and might, God forbid, try to kill me!
I dropped the charges.
Yet I could not live with this slow torture and knew I needed advice. But from whom?
I had an unusual idea. I’m here in Israel, the land of the Bible. Why not find out what the Torah would say about this?
I had never before considered the Torah as a source of wisdom.
I surprised myself with this thought. I had never before considered the Torah as being a source of wisdom. Yet I had good feelings about Judaism because of my wonderful grandmother who observed Shabbat and kashrut and who prayed with an intensity that held me in awe.
Then I remembered having met someone named Patsy who owned a bookstore. Like me, she was an American raised as a Conservative Jew. After becoming Torah-observant, she had opened a Judaica shop.
The next morning I headed for the bookstore. "Patsy," I said, "I want a religious book. What can you suggest?"
Without missing a beat, she said, “You want A Tzaddik in Our Time, the biography of Rabbi Aryeh Levin.” I stayed up till four in the morning reading this fascinating book. Granted, I couldn’t imagine reaching the high spiritual level of Rabbi Levin, but this book showed me what a human being was capable of. It inspired me to grow, to become a better person.
I went back to the bookstore the next day. "Patsy, that book was great. I’m thirsty for more.”
She directed me to a table and I couldn’t believe what I saw. Staring up at me was a book called Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin. I grabbed it.
That book changed my life. One passage in particular spoke directly to me:
If you see your friend unloading his donkey, help him. But if you see your enemy unloading his donkey, first help your enemy. This way, you can overcome your bad inclination. Furthermore, by giving to your enemy, you will come to love him.
Wow. I didn’t want to love my neighbor, but if I could get to like him, that would be something.
But how could I give to Albert? And if I did, how could I do it so he wouldn’t misunderstand my intentions? I certainly didn’t want to buy him a gift. That would be ingratiating and possibly misinterpreted.
The very next morning, as fate would have it, as I pulled out of the driveway, I saw Albert in the distance, waiting for the bus. That’s it – I can give him a ride into town. As I slowly drove down the hill, I could almost hear my mother’s reaction: "What do you need this for? Why look for trouble?" But I answered my mother’s unspoken voice, saying to myself, If the Torah says to give to my enemy, I should do it. If I don’t do it now, I may lose my chance for peace.
I pulled up to the bus stop. “Would you like a ride?” I asked Albert. He got into the car and made light conversation as though he had never harassed me, as though he wasn’t my worst enemy in the world.
From that day on, I never had any problems with my neighbor.. He never complained about my dog or about anything else. Nor did he ask me again for a kos café. (He did once say, in a casual tone as if talking about the weather, "Maybe you’d like to marry me." But he never said anything further about it.)
After that, whenever I saw him, we exchanged greetings of "Shalom." Quiet, polite, two ships passing in the night.
—– Debt of Gratitude
Giving Albert a ride that day did more than just make peace between us. The Torah works, I remember thinking afterwards. I want more.
I enrolled in a yeshiva for women and found the classes stimulating and challenging, the way I wished my university studies had been. Slowly, slowly I began my journey, observing Shabbat and kashrut, just as my grandmother had done before me.
Eventually, I sold my apartment and returned to the U.S. I lost touch with my neighbor, but I think of him often. He nearly pushed me over the brink of sanity, but I owe him everything because he helped me discover not only God, but a part of myself I didn’t know existed.