Monday, February 08, 2016


So... I asked Hashem for some guidance in deciding whether we should leave Israel back to the U.S. or whether we should stay in Israel, and now this happened.  I can't believe I was almost arrested from just having a bad day?!?  I was pulled over because I was talking on the cell phone (illegal) with no headlights on (illegal) and no seat belt on (illegal), with no Teudat Zehut (Israel National ID) (illegal?), and no car registration paperwork (illegal).  Plus, I accidentally lied to the cop saying that I had been in Israel for a few months (this was an accident, I only meant I had been here in Beitar for a few months), only for him to find out that I've been here more than a year and that I don't have an Israeli Driver's License.  This was after the bank stole a whole wad of cash which was the reason I was on the cell phone really upset in the first place.  After all this, the officer called two other cops over the radio which came via motorcycle, and surrounded my car from both sides.  Then all of a sudden, something changed, everyone backed off, and he gave me a small ticket with a warning.

My wife (a Hebrew speaker) afterwards in shock said, "I don't know what changed, but I heard him talking, and he said he was going to arrest you.  You were going to be arrested."

Here is a letter to the Rebbe that I wrote on the topic (now writing him two days in a row):

23 Shvat, 5776 
Ana L'orer Rachamim Rabim ba'avor ... 
Dear Rebbe, 
I do not understand how to interpret the events of today.  This morning, I woke up, and because my wife was feeling ill, I went downstairs, cleaned up the living room and the kitchen, and then when it came time to pick up our youngest daughter from gan, I decided to drive into town to withdraw some funds from our U.S. bank in Shekels, and deposit them into our Israeli bank account. 
When I was on line at the bank to use the ATM, there was a poor person going to people at the bank ATM as they were taking out money.  I find this highly inappropriate as there are shuls and tzedakka institutions set up to give money to people like him (and we often donate to these organizations).   
When it came time to use the ATM, I refused to do so, and I told the man who was standing next to the poor person in Hebrew, "I am not taking out money from the ATM while he is standing there waiting to ask for money."  I guess I shamed him and I did not realize it, and I am sorry for that.  I have already encountered this guy many times and I thought he belonged in a home of some sort, not roaming the streets. 
Minutes later, when I walked to the next block to deposit the funds in our bank's ATM, the same poor person came over and asked people on line for cash.  I told him "slichah, lo," and he walked on.  Again, I was annoyed that he was asking people on line at the bank. 
When it came time to deposit the cash into the bank account, I had an intuition to deposit my stack of 50 NIS bills from my wallet rather than the 200 NIS bills that I just withdrew from the bank.  The ATM machine failed, it took [stole] my money, and I was really upset, especially because I do not speak the Hebrew to fight with the bank tellers (plus the bank was closed even though it was in the middle of the day), and I certainly do not have the time to stand on line only for them to tell me, "sorry, you lost your money," and if I did, who would I call to fight it?!?  I don't even know how much money I put into the ATM -- it was a stack of 50 NIS bills! 
Driving back home, I called my wife to tell her what happened.  In haste, I forgot to put my seat belt on (and, I did not have my lights on, something I realized later on which is now illegal here).  An Israeli police officer standing in the middle of the road flagged me down, pulled over my car, and started asking me questions. 
It has been literally A YEAR AND ONE DAY, and we did not have an Israeli license as was required by law.  My wife was on speaker phone, and she heard that he was going to arrest me for driving without a licence, for talking on the cell phone, AND for not having seat belts on. 
I started saying tehillim, and when saying tehillim, I remembered the poor person I probably embarrassed earlier that hour (right before the bad things started to happen).  I felt bad about it because he was not poor because he was lazy, but because he had mental issues.  I've also seen him before and have reacted the same way when this guy would walk into a restaurant to ask people for tzedakka.  I repented (in whatever small way I could), and my wife told me that immediately after the police officer was about to arrest me, he had a change of heart and decided to give me a ticket.  He didn't give me a ticket for driving without a license.  He didn't give me a ticket for talking on the cell phone while driving (a 1000 NIS fine in Israel).  He gave me a ticket for not having seat belts on, a 100 NIS fine. 
I am very shaken up by this event because I don't even know where or how to obtain a drivers license here in Israel.  My wife and I tried before, but we got confused with the bureaucracy, and never followed-up on it (and a year passed unbeknownst to us, and drivers licenses were the last thing on our minds with all the chaos of living abroad in Israel).  I wouldn't even know how to use the bus system to get to a DMV or do all the steps that are required beforehand without a car. 
But here is the bigger question, and this is the point of the pidyon nefesh.  Was this whole event Hashem violently protecting his poor and the downtrodden?!?  I learned that every action in Israel is directed by Hashem himself, and so was I the violator here?  And, if so, DO I EVEN WANT TO LIVE HERE KNOWING HASHEM IS WATCHING EVERY MOVE I DO SO CLOSELY?!? I am a good person, but obviously I have my fair share of sins which I atone for.  Do I really want to live in a place where I can be recognized by Hashem and punished so readily for something [I thought was] as minute as getting annoyed at a poor mentally ill person for soliciting tzedakka at a bank ATM or in a restaurant?!?  AND if he is hitting me so hard so fast for something as small as this (remember, yesterday I just gave our shul 3,000 NIS as a donation, and we give thousands of dollars in tzedakka and maaser every year!), SHOULD I BE AFRAID OF BEING PUNISHED FOR ALL OF THE OTHER SINS THAT I DO?? AND DO I EVEN WANT TO LIVE IN A LAND WHICH SENDS OUT PUNISHMENTS SO STRONGLY, SO QUICKLY, AND SO HARSHLY??  WAS THIS THE REASON OUR HOME WAS BROKEN INTO IN RECHOVOT AND OVER 100,000 NIS WAS STOLEN FROM US??  We already give so much tzedakka!! 
Further, on my mind is leaving Israel.  I spent most of the afternoon in awe of the beautiful land, and feeling so lucky that we could live in Israel (and survive financially).  I was saddened that we spent most of our year "residing in Israel being busy with our very stressful daily lives" without visiting the historical sites, or the various biblical cities (safety permitting) where various events in Torah happened.  It would be such a shame if we missed all of that because we were too busy with school, kids, the tourist sites, and visiting various cities for non-religious amenities. 
I was also a bit saddened that we might be missing out on a meaningful life, as I do love our shul, our community, and the fact that our children are doing well here in Israel.  And, I do not want to be like Yona who "runs" away from Hashem [to America] thinking that Hashem won't see him there because as you clearly said, "Hashem goes down to galus with you." 
It is a few hours later and I just returned from mincha / maariv (shul).  My heart hurts because I don't think I want to be here anymore.  I don't want to work the night shift, and I don't want to have the responsibility of having Hashem watch so closely over me.  I am not a chossid, and I am by far not a perfect person.  I really don't want Hashem attacking me every time I do something bad (or when I neglect to do the million things I *could* be doing.)  I just want some tranquility, some peace, to raise my children in comfort, and to not be killed by some plague or disease, some government entity, or by fanatical crazies.  Can't I just live a "good" life, do my part in helping the world, and be left alone?!?
 NOTE: Image taken from Pixbay, CC0 Public Domain, Free for commercial use, No attribution required.  Link.

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