Sunday, December 13, 2009

Swirling Thoughts #95 – i'm told this is entirely normal

Minha - the original flash mob
flash mob – a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual action for a brief time, then quickly disperse.

My mailbox is situated outside the makolet, next to the pizza store, and if I’m lucky I’ll remember to pick up my mail as I leave the makolet. I’ll be fishing around in my purse for the mail key and then look up and notice the produce guy, the pizza guy, some men I just saw in the checkout line, my neighbor, and about 25 other men standing together (in front of the mailboxes), facing Jerusalem and praying minha.

Mincha or Minha (מִנְחָה) – the shortest prayer service of the day, the afternoon prayers, named for the flour offering that accompanied sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem.

Before the Chanukah flash mob on Ben Yehuda Street there was the pizza store mincha minyan. Similar groups of men assemble in flashes all over Israel every day.

More on mail
The mail is sort of a multi-step procedure. First there’s the ‘getting of the mail’ – a function of memory and good timing. Only one of us is required for this step. Then there’s the sorting of the mail. This can be done as a team or in shifts. One of us goes through and pulls out all mail that is addressed to no one (this is the junk mail – since it’s getting stuffed into all the mailboxes, why bother addressing it?).

What’s left goes into three piles: bills for which our credit card has already been charged and for which we can identify the entity who billed us, bills for which our credit card has already been charged and for which the entity who billed us is a mystery, and bills for which a mysterious entity is billing us and for some reason they don’t yet have our credit card information.

The other of us repeats this process, sometimes reducing pile #2. We further consolidate piles 2 and 3 into a single pile called “mail we need help with” and we wait. There’s no real system in place here. The waiting can be long or short depending on who passes through our door – it could be the kids’ tutor who helps us with a few pieces of mail. Sometimes the housekeeper can help. A neighbor’s child. The pizza store guy. A friend delivering a baby gift. We don’t really get the mail again until this pile has been resolved. Unless someone calls us shouting, “How didn’t you pay yet?” By the way – that bill really only arrived after Odelia sent it again – on day 15.

The junk mail
I like to look at all of it – to see what I can decipher. Some things, but not many, come in English, while quite a few come in Hebrew with English translations. These are my favorites since they provide me with a glimmer of hope that one day my mastery of the English language is a skill for which advertisers will pay. After all, I’m sure the air duct cleaning guy would be mortified if he knew he was advertising “solussions” to dust mite allergies.

VIP travel
I usually speak to Bob before he boards the plane coming home. Sometimes I am busy and simply wish him a safe flight. Other times I have the presence of mind to be anxious about his air travel and I repeat my wish for his safe passage several times. This last time after we hung up he ran into Rabbi Riskin in the El Al lounge. The Rabbi was carrying a Sefer Torah. It was for a yeshivah in Efrat. Bob stayed with him. They were whisked through security and escorted onto the plane. Before they took off Bob sent me this email:

Don't worry. The plane will arrive safely.

Are Entenmann’s Donuts considered contraband by the TSA?
Lucky for Asher we didn’t have to find out – the security guards were much more interested in the Sefer Torah (Rabbi Riskin opened it up for them) – and so, we might just be the only family in all of Israel enjoying Entenmann’s powdered donuts this Chanukah.

Enjoy the NBN Chanukah Flash Mob on Ben Yehuda Street:

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