Tuesday, August 28, 2007

vacation tiyul

Its been a long day - I go on a little vacation and return and the whole place is shot to pieces. At least I had a nice vacation. My parents were in to meet my sister's fiance, so Thursday we had an engagement party. I heard from a number of people that I seemed to be in a bad mood, but it was after a long day of work and a 3 hour drive and I wasn't in a bad mood for any particular reason, so I have excused myself. We planned on sleeping in Jerusalem Thursday night , so after the party we left the kids sleeping under the watchful eyes of my parents and went to the kotel to pray. My sister-in-law (on the other side) has breast cancer and it is right before the new year (rosh hashana) so we thought it was a good time to pray. Prayers at the wall are always enjoyable and have some form of extra oomph or feeling brought about by the special location.
We returned to where we were staying and I couldn't fall asleep, probably because I had an ice tea on our way back from the wall and I'm not used to drinking caffeine at night. I fell asleep at 3ish and woke up at 10 to 6, which is when I normally wake up. I waited an hour for my dad to wake up and we went to the wall for morning prayers. (Two times at the wall and I am ready for the new year). We went with my mom to downtown Jerusalem to go shopping. It was a very successful trip, the girls got new skirts and I loaded up on meat from Matam Chafetz Chaim. They have great American corned beef and pastrami, which we don't get up north, and I also got some garlic pickles and a salami to hang, among other things. When we returned to the car I found a 250 shekel parking ticket tucked into the windshield wipers. As they say in Jewish, this too is for the best and I didn't let it get me down.
We drove 3 hours home after a pizza lunch and I got to have a nice long catch-up chat on the drive home with my little sister who I hadn't spoken to in a very long time. Now we're all bonded or something.
We got home a couple hours before shabbos and I got a call from a friend that his car broke down outside of Or Haganuz, a Breslover moshav, near Meron. I went out to pick him up (25 minute drive) and he wanted to (understandably) wait with his car until the tow truck guy got there. He figured the tow truck guy would give him a lift home on his way to Karmiel. An hour later he found out that the tow truck had a faster route to Karmiel that didn't take him by our village, so he was stuck again, so I went out to get him. He didn't get hit too badly, it was his exhaust that went. I had thought it was the transmission from the way he described it.
We discussed it on the way home and my theory is that right before rosh hashana God collects from everyone who owed him throughout the year. There is a great mishna in pirkei avot (towards the end of the 3rd chapter): (In the name of Rabbi Akiva) "The store is open and the storekeeper is around, the notebook is open and the hand is writing. Anyone who wants a loan can come and borrow. The loan officers are constantly taking payments, with and without your knowledge...." In other words, the collectors were in my neighborhood this week.

Shabbos was very nice, my brother and his wife came up with baby boy blue and we had a very nice time with them as well.

I took vacation Sunday and Monday so we could all have some fun. It is the last week of summer vacation for the kids, so it was good all around. I wanted to show my parents an old Syrian village which was Jewish in the times of the Mishna, so we went on a hike of Nachal Jalabon. This is a great hike and I recommend it to everyone. It is a little hard to find if you don't know what you are looking for. We had 2 cars, so we parked one on each side of the tiyul and started off. First we walked down the side of the mountain on a rocky descent. We crossed the stream and walked up to the overlook where you can see the first waterfall "Devora's waterfall" Above the lookout is the village of Devora (Dabura in Arabic) I looked all around for references of the prophetess Devora, but she was in the Shomron the whole time and never made it up to the Golan, as far as I could find, so it was probably not named after her.
After we wandered through the village and heard a story about the place from my dad, we headed down to the water. My wife and mother waited with the small children by the small pools of water while I took the older ones, my sister and my dad to the waterfall. We made it all the way to the pool by the waterfall, but the waterfall itself was hidden from view by the mountainside. It was rough going and the children couldn't have made it all the way over to the pool so we turned around and headed back to the small pools where the kids played in the water for a bit before we continued on our way. We went up and down across rocky paths until we found the second waterfall with a big pool of water. It was a bit of a climb to get to the pool, but we made it and jumped in the water. A refreshing swim and sitting under a waterfall after a long hike is all that. After the swim we hiked the rest of the way out including a killer uphill climb to reach the top. But we all made it. All in all the hike took us about 4 hours and is highly recommended. (Though my dad thought we were trying to kill him).
On Monday, on my oldest daughter's request, we went to an animal sanctuary called "Owl, all life" (my daughter yells that it doesn't mean that, but it does). The group goes to all the school's with various animals like snakes and iguana's and interesting lizards and stuff and they have a campus that you can go visit where they give you a guided tour and explanation of all the animals there. They also make pita, but the corn oil didn't have a kosher symbol on it. (It only had arabic writing). They offered to make us our own dough without any oil, but I didn't want to cook it on the same whateveritiscalled as the other ones were cooked on so we turned them down. I don't know what could be problematic about oil, but oil is processed, (except for virgin olive oil) so you really don't know. After the animal farm, we went for lunch in Tiverya (Tiberias) and had Shwarma and felafal. We said good by to my parents and sister who headed back to Jerusalem and found a nice quasi-private (very rocky) beach on the Kinneret to play in for an hour before heading home. It was a full and exhausting couple days.

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