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Leon’s No Newsletter 02 Being Optimistic Tuesday 20th Feb 2024

A place where good thoughts come to the visitor
Bahai gardens Mt. Carmel

Where to go has become a problem. Thanks to Rockets, missiles, unmanned aircraft and other disasters falling out of the sky, I’m left with occasional trips to the new National Library of Israel, munching bourekas (a pastry filled with cheese) in Machaneh Yehuda market on my way there and occasional walks with my friend Shaul in the Scopus Valley. (Nahal Zofim)

I travel by buses, the light rail and, when Ettie’s not working and gets the urge to make an outing, we go by car. 

Senior Citizens here travel free, but a plastic card, called a Rav Kav must be presented to a machine, which emits a tinkling sound if approved. The other day nothing happened, apparently the card decided that I had grown younger and no longer eligible for free rides.

I put cash into the rav kav and took the light rail to the Clal Building. Up I went to the 17th floor. The young fellow checked my ID, put the card in a machine and sent me on my way. Nothing happened and two days later I was beck at the rav kav office. Alls well now and they even returned the 14 shekels I’d paid.

People make mistakes and we’re more likely to forgive them and be patient now than at other times. This comes from the feeling of sadness at the situation of the hostages and the death toll of the soldiers, which has now reached about 600. Nobody wants to make people suffer more than they are already suffering. This brings about a more tolerant attitude towards the people who serve us.

Unfortunately, as more services are automated, we have less opportunities to show our patience and kindness. I should be happy that the automatic service didn’t work, when I tried to set up an appointment with Dr. Ben Joseph, the dentist. His surgery is in Kiryat Yovel, a suburb at the southern end of the city. A long way from my abode in the northern end. Thrice I tried and each time the recorded message said “leave your number we’ll call you back”. Something good to look forward to, you might think, but I was disappointed, no one called me back. The machine had made a promise and hadn’t kept it. What should I do? Should I be angry at a machine? No, who cares if I spend an hour travelling to set an appointment? I had a good book to listen to, Steven Crane, The Blue Hotel, and with my repaired rav kav travelled for free. In person at the dentist’s office. I waited in line, like we used to do in the old days and met a real live person, a pretty girl, in white, behind a computer. The matter was settled. The dentist saw me straight away and did the root canal treatment. 

My friend Shaul rides his bicycle. I fall off these days and walk to meet him at the picnic spot in the valley. I bring tea, cheese and bread and together we try to make conversation. Each day he has a different subject. I can’t answer all his questions and we end up arguing. I’m sent off to the library to find the answers. 

He brought me a legend, which he’d read in a book written by Prof Joram Bilu, an anthropologist, who also happened to be the father of his son in law. I was going to challenge the Prof. The legend that Bet Shean is the gateway to paradise, didn’t originate in a dream of a Moroccan Jew, but in the Talmud and furthermore appears in Moslem texts also. 

After reading theories of the Garden of Eden, in the library, I returned home to sleep, hoping to awaken and find the text which would prove my point. There it was in black and white in a book, available on the internet, Legends of Palestine by Zeev Vilnay, the father of tour guiding in Israel.

You can find this at this website, for free download. Legends of Palestine

Searching for words that might help to give meaning in the midst of all the bad surprises,  I came across the following reminder, from the Bahai website.

“The beauty and magnificence of the Gardens and Terraces,” wrote the Universal House of Justice, “are symbolic of the transformation which is destined to occur both within the hearts of the world’s people and in the physical environment of the planet.”

In my opinion this means that bad things can become good and we can be optimistic about the future of the world, despite the many bad things happening around us.

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