In that hazy time when Purim slowly becomes Shushan Purim - when the farbrengens flow from one to the other and the eyes fight of sleep and drink - I entered the house of the Rosh Yeshivah.
I'd been there the night before for the Megillah reading, but now it seemed different. While the night before it had been a shiva house - let the mind categorize it as it sees fit - now it was something else. The large dinning room table had been removed from the living room to make room for prayers . . . those gathered sat around the small kitchen table - the Rosh, Rabbi Schapiro, a few shluchim . . . it was quiet. Frighteningly quiet.
People took up space in the room, yet it felt . . . so empty. The counters were bare, sinks empty. Everything was there - but something felt missing. The normal signs of an active homemaker's kitchen - a jar of sugar or a teapot, a basket of fruit or a shopping list - those little details of daily life were all gone.
I got the same eerie feeling I had when visiting my childhood bedroom on the day we moved out . . . it was like caterpillar shed of its cocoon - all the parts that had been wrapped so snugly before were there, but now they would no longer fit.
So we sat in the room. Silently. Rabbi Schapiro had been speaking, but his voice rasped thin.
The Rosh took over. His face seemed so long, so tired . . .
"With Haman - when he thought he had it all - he lost it. With the Jewish people it's opposite - when we don't realize that we've been given it all, we loose it."
Words of a living man.
Whence I Thought I Saw a Dead Man
Returning to New York on Virgin America the plane was packed. Shuffling back and forth up and down the aisle to find a place for our carry-on backs and our personal items, my hat and our jackets, I made note of the people - hipsters and business men, a half dozen yeshivah students, a Persian family on travel . . . People fascinate me.
Around 4:00 in the morning LA time, perhaps a few dozen minutes after nodding off to sleep, someone started yelling. Confused I began to look around the plane. Across the aisle, the matriarch of the Persian family was yelling.
Was this a senior moment? Had she forgotten where she was and her confusion was freaking out?
She kept yelling and pulling the hand of her middle-aged son. As her cries in Farsi becoming more frequent and agitated, it suddenly occurred to me - she wasn't trying to move her son - she was trying to wake him. He lay motionless in his seat.
Suddenly chaos broke out. His father and sister were shaking him, slapping his face and screaming. His niece, or was it his daughter, cried out between her tears.
"Help! Help! Emergency! Is there a doctor here?"
Two ladies, a doctor of some sort and a nurse practitioner came out of nowhere.
I suddenly felt extremely cold. A sense of Déjà vu came over me in the icy fire . . . I felt similar to when I was told my Grandfather had passed away - was this the feeling of death? Sudden dread in wild bolts of hot and cold?
The flight attendants pressed an oxygen mask to his face, and the doctor unbuttoned his collar to better find a pulse.
The mother was hyperventilating, the other family members wept . . .
The man was placed on the floor. The nurse practitioner had his head cradled in her lap, the doctor had his feet in the air - shoes removed.
"He's going to be ok," She said to the family. "He fainted - he's very hot . . . he must have been overheating."
Was she telling the truth? Was he fine or were these words to meant to calm a frantic family while the futile business of working on the man was carried out. Were we going to land?
Packs of ice were pressed against his body.
"I'm telling you," the doctor said. "He'll be fine! This happened to me on the way in as well!"
What a mazal - I'm not sure for the doctor or the individual who fainted - to have it happen on both legs of the trip.
Suddenly his toes started to wiggle. He was alive - there was hope.
His pants were rolled up further to reveal long underwear, his shirt removed to reveal a sweater underneath - no wonder he overheated!
He sat up, and was given a cup of orange juice . . .
In the morning, by baggage claim, I approached the family and asked the father and son if they wanted to put on Tefillin. The father put on right away, the son said he wanted to wait until they got to their first stop - the Ohel
(Photo Credit: Flickr as chosen by ScribeFire)
Technorati Tags: Purim, Life, Mourning, Los Angeles, YOEC, Airplanes, Fear, Death, First Aid, Tefillin, Mivtzoyim, The Ohel