Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tisha b'Av starts tonight, 9.35. It feel, somehow, more pressing, this year, what with the news.

Today, I couldn't find my kinot (prayerbook for Tisha b'Av). Possibly, it's in storage. Possibly, my house is untidy.

Anyway, it's a one-time gig, really, so I went to Golders Green this afternoon. Jerusalem the Golden was closed, and the Menorah Book Centre was fresh out of Kinot.

He was a nice guy, though. They're always a little surprised, I think, that I go in there looking... well, not frum. Possibly, to them, even not Jewish. And then I ask for something frum. So he gave me the number of another book store, and I called them, but they'd sold out. Short season, clearly. So then he gave me the number of some guy who has a bookstore in his front room. He had one left, he put it aside for me. I write down his address, say I'll be there in five minutes.

"It's just round the corner?" I say to the guy in Menorah.

"Well, it's miles away," he responds, the weight of five thousand years of Jewish history weighing heavy on his heart.

"Well, don't worry, I've got a map."

"A map you don't need. It's complicated. You have a car? Which way are you facing?"

"I can face any way. Which way is it?"

Then he tells me long, circutous route. I thank him.

"You should take the phone number. In case."

I show him my mobile and tell him I have it.

"In your phone? Is that a special phone?"

So we get into a whole conversation where I explain about number dialled history, and he writes it down, with the model of my phone and Nokia. He thinks this is a great new discovery.

"From Nokia, you should take commission," he tells me.

I look at the map in my car and it's two streets away. I'm there in 30 seconds. When I'd stepped out 30 minutes earlier I wasn't planning on entering the shtetl, so I was in a tight t-shirt, jeans, sandals. Boys with payot (sidecurls) averted their eyes when I entered.

The guy behind the counter looks at me, gets out the kinnot. "This what you want?"

I look at it, and it's nusach sefard (spanish and portugese rather than eastern european tradition) - it says this in small hebrew letters on the spine.

"Do you have nusach ashkenaz?"

He looks at me like I don't compute. I can read Hebrew. I know from nusach.

"Last one." So I buy it, and leave, and think, it can't be that different.


I've wrangled with a client today - my income briefly went exponentially up and then down again - and I've eaten a hardboiled egg (Tisha b'Av custom, as it's a mourning custom) and I'm off to shul in a little while.

I briefly have to consider if I can go to shul in trousers, because I think I'm going to walk there. But I think I can't. It's frum there. And I think, sometimes you have to speak people's language, even if it's not your language, entirely.

The motif, kinda, of Tisha b'Av is tears. Other festivals have cake and candles and palm leaves, but this is... intense. And it seems, somehow, this year, that the tears might not be so far away.

Hippy, I know. But I'd like some peace and tranquility in the universe.

No comments: