Monday, June 22, 2009

A Tragic, Wonderful Small World

Groovin' was in town yesterday for a wedding, and we went to Pita Hot for him to get his usual KGH shwarma. While we were talking about his impending aliyah, he mentioned that his sister is considering returning to Sharfman's for a second year, but she's been a bit shaken up since their cousin was killed in friendly-fire incident in the IDF. I stopped him and asked the name: Noam Adin Richter Levi. I was shaken up, having read a few posts by A Soldier's Mother about Noam, and mentioned it to Groovin', particularly the part about the family welcoming the soldier whose gun it was and telling him it was not his fault. Groovin' then noted that a Cleveland boy in the IDF was Noam's bunkmate in the army. I then told Groovin' that that Clevelander was actually living in his off time at RivkaT's parents - a place where Groovin' and I went for Shabbos a few times while in Israel. That boy also happens to be G's first cousin. It's a small, small world - both in tragic situations like this, but also in beautiful and happy times.

Somehow, that conversation took me back to a post I read a while back by Daniel Gordis about Israel. He was asked at a meal "Why would you live here?", and didn't necessarily have a great answer. But after a series of meaningful conversations the next week, he realized exactly what the answer should have been. It's a very moving post.
You live here, and you feel things that you don’t feel anywhere else. You just do. You’re part of things that you wouldn’t be part of anywhere else. You care about people you wouldn’t care about in the same way anywhere else. Other people’s stories are your stories in ways that they couldn’t be anywhere else. You cry, and you laugh, and you mourn and you celebrate, with people who elsewhere, might not matter to you at all. You may not even be sure that we should make the trade to get their kid out, but you cry when we can’t.
Emotion is part of life. Sometimes, that will make it feel like life is so incredibly painful... but without those connections that can bring us that pain, we could never experience all the highs and wonder. It is important to remember this through our times of pain so we can survive them, and to better appreciate what we have so we can experience and share, and share and experience, all of those pure joys.