The letters of our thoughts are the ideas present in our mind before they come to realization . . . Thoughts that are, yet not felt . . . The words of the subconscious . . . of the soul . . .


Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Vilnius -the third time's the charm

Another Adventure:

The bus ride was uneventful -the air outside was filled with the silence of falling snow- yet my mind was turbulent. Only a hours before leaving for Vilna I'd had a long talk with he powers to be - I've been to critical of the situation that I'm in etc. etc. back and forth, circular logic fatuous reasoning -ad nauseam.

On the bus ride, in the middle of Eastern Europe -somewhere between Warsaw and Białystok- I realized what a fool I've been. I can not stand lack of action, deceit and all things false. Perhaps it's because of the Kock [Kotzk] in me (On my mother's side it's been confirmed, and on my father's side it appears rather likely as well) . . . but to where does it lead me? I see the apathy Montreal, of Warsaw . . . and then?

I realized then, that there is no logical reason to how I ended up in Warsaw -Yeshiva in Montreal can not explain why things worked out this way, nor can the 'powers that be' here explain why it is that we are here, what we are to do. Perhaps there are a few nitzutzos, holy sparks, that my Great Grandfathers left in this corner of the world and I must elevate them . . . I dunno.

Just as I had faith that G-d would bring the bus to it's proper destination, I too needed (and need) to have faith that I was being led down the proper path . . .

In Białystok the bus stopped. Period. The driver said something to me, but in my half-sleeping state I was unable to even tell in which language the driver spoke to me in -Polish, Russian, Lithuanian . . . The others on the bus let me know that we had to change buses. Chaim and I trudged out in the snow and walked to the other bus. In front of us stood an old hunch backed lady, with hair whiter then the snow outside, and an odd wardrobe of mismatched clothes. Seeing her slowly drag he suitcase up the stairs, I took it from her and brought it into the bus. She began to me in Polish, I nodded my head and put the bag where she pointed. Done. Or rather, so I thought, she however had other things in mind -as she went about asking every passenger where we were. When it came my turn to tell here that we were in Białystok, it was clear that this 'Pani' of ours was, uhh, rather unique.

"Excuse me," she asked -in English (She speaks English?!) "But are you Jewish?"

Upon saying the word Jewish, he blue eyes grew wide and she began to laugh, nay to cackle . . . I had no doubt that she was either Baba Yaga or the niece of the Wicked Witch of the West (it couldn't actually be the Wicked Witch -because she melted)

"Are you from Izzzrreal?" She continued . . .

"I'm from Hollywood," was my reply. Oh she said, cackling again. She turned around, leaving us thankfully alone.

The shul - soon we'll see yad chassidim elyona!

Upon arriving we were given a mission,to give an invoice to the other side -the 'Misnagdim'.

The story of what is going on is, sadly, already an old one (for more info go here) . . . to make a long story short, there is much discord there -with the shliach working under the malicious shadow of those who care for little besides money and power.

Krinsky told us to go in, give the note, be respectful and do mivtzoim until they kicked us out . . .

We arrived in the building and were greeted by Sam (not his real name). After delivering the note, Sam offered to give us a tour of the building. As we went he took pride in telling us the many great things that they do in the 'secular community', they help all facets of community, with out forcing religion like 'Chabad does' . . . you see, he explained -we are Litvishe Yidden, we don't like things the way Chabad does things. For example, he explained, his Bar Mitzvah had been done by the Rabbi -but he had made a second "Litvishe Bar-Mitzvah" in Riga.

"The Rabbi said that I am destroying Judaism," he continued, "But that just isn't true . . . we make a special activity day for Jewish kids on Saturday afternoon -they play sports, watch videos etc . . . that way they'll be around to hear Havdalah. Or -even better- we have a very nice school here for children. Again, Chabad said that we're letting children with Jewish fathers, but non-Jewish mothers (who are in effect non-Jews -though Sam feels otherwise) go to school, an act which might bring a Jewish boy to marry a gentile girl (R"L). But listen, I told the Rabbi that we also bring a boy, who has only a Jewish father, together with a girl who is halachacly Jewish . . . You see - a person who had been lost from Judaism (i.e. not Jewish) will now have Jewish kids! We do help Judaism!"

With logic like that, who can argue . . .

We were sent to buy salt to clear up the ice, but the only salt in the store was a open package of table salt . . . so we did it the old fashioned way


Early Friday morning, we set out for Palanga -a small town about half an hour north of Klaipeda (Memel).

The trip took around four hours, and Chaim and I were forced to sit with the four Yenta cooks from the Chabad house.

the van
Th cooks yapped . . . our driver was worse.
He seemed like a a good hardworking chap -in fact, he even liked to multi tas. You know, talk on the phone, drink some sort of drink from a can (I'm hoping that it was indeed a power drink . . .), watch T.V. on his dashboard (is that legal?) and drive . . . all at the same time!

watching TV on the way

The hotel
To make a long story short -we needed to arrange the kitchen in the hotel a proper place to serve Kosher food with out worry of any unfortunate mishaps (The food itself had been prepared in the Chabad house)

the kitchen, with our Yentas

As mentioned in the Lithuanian Excursion, a Shabbaton had been made for guests from Vilna and Kovno in Druskininkai . . . this time around it was for the Chevra from Klaipeda -along with the Conductor Yankele Rotner from the Holy Land, and a choir . . . but unlike the last group, this one a ladies choir brought in for a (belated) 22 Shvat program.
Oh Yah, a shabbos full of D.I.Bettes. (one of them later approached me and said that she remembered me from Venice, she asked if I recognized her,
according to my calculations,
I've met over 3,780 Israelis this past summer in Venice alone . . .)

Shabbos, Baruch Hashem, went by with out fuss . . . except for Yankel's attempt to get his "Girls" to sing with him when he was Chazzan (They could barely be heard humming the tune of L'cha Dodi Behind the Mechitza, so he [standing near the edge of the divider] leaned forward and tried to conduct them . . . we made a point of singing extra loud from that time on) the hasgacha went with out any (I hope) problems, and Shabbos was soon out.

We drove to Klaipeda , the women went to the concert, we went swimming . . .

The ride back was nice . . . if that's what you could call sitting in a bus full of Israelis singers for four hours.
"Efo hachom? Ani Kar!" (where's the heat? I'm cold!)
"Mah at omeret? Efo hakor, ha'atobus cham!" (What are you saying? Where's the air, the bus is hot!)

On Sunday we needed to work on the big women's concert in Vilnius . . . again with the Hasgacha, again with the driver, but this time we were yenta-less, the food for the event had been prepared by Olga, a fancy chef! (It tasted good) and the Concert was to be in a posh Hotel (they boasted having wi-fi every where . . . even in the bathrooms [the restrooms had a sticker that said 'Wi-Fi available']

loading for the concert

Things went by well, and despite a few set backs (Like the bus coming from Kovno breaking down on the way) the concert was filled with hundreds of ladies . . . not that I saw or heard anything . . .

The choir with the rebbetzin (and our dear Yankel)

Yum . . . . Chocolate

Monday afforded us a chance to walk around the old town of Vilna -something that I had never gotten a full chance to do . . .

So let us let the pictures do the talking . . . . .

A fort on a hill

An old shul, now the Austrian embassy

The Old Tomche Temimim Yeshiva Building

Before we left, we did some additional 'shlichus' . . . packing envelopes.

And then it was off, off and away.
Until next time . . .


Sefirah said...

i told you id read this dork.

nice story.

in the last picture it looks like its set in "old" times, and youre like some kind of accountant.


Mottel said...

Thanks for the kind words . . .