The trip began with a hakamas matzeiva for my mother zichronah livracha, and ended with a week of babysitting for my new granddaughter, named after my mother. I managed to take a day or two off; among the highlights of my personal time were
-visiting a very good man I met online through this blog. I'm proud to know him, and it was exciting to see him in person. His son in law has a vineyard. You all know how most wines say "no chashash of orla, neta rivai, kilayim, or Sheviis"? Well, this wine didn't say that. Here are the labels, front and back.
The thing with this is that you have to finish it once you start it- I couldn't leave it for the next week, because I wasn't there for the next week, and I couldn't take it to the US, because I don't have the most certainly reliable heteirim Esrog sochrim have. So I drank most of it Shabbos day, and my one and a half year old granddaughter, they tell me, enjoyed watching me sleep it off on the sofa. The wine was just wonderful, though I can't know if it was the flavor or the special-ness of what it was.
-Another highlight of the trip was going around with a dear friend who used to live in Chicago and left twenty three years ago. In the span of those twenty three years, he remarried, had nine more children, married four of his girls off, founded three kollelim, and a yeshiva for high school age boys and a beis medrash yeshiva. Next he's going to make a seminary for Sefardi girls. His mosdos are wonderful- clean as a whistle, the talmidim are learning diligently, just wonderful.
When he brought me to his first kollel, which has been running for twenty years, he introduced me to the men. He used exagerated and flowery words to describe me, with the unfortunate result of convincing himself that what he said was true, and that I am a talmid chacham that has shas on my fingertips. That is, of course, absurd. But he got carried away, and told them that I would deliver a shiur on the sugya they were learning on the spot.
Ever since I was at a Sheva Brachos twenty five years ago, and the MC realized he didn't have enough speakers, and he introduced me as the next speaker without giving me a moment warning, I never have walked into any event that has speakers without having something to say. Not Sheva Brachos, not Bar Mitzvos, not a Vort, not even funerals. I can't risk it. But I never expected this perfidy. As someone put it, I should have known that going to Eretz Yisrael involved a risk of getting stabbed in the back.
Baruch Hashem, I knew something about the sugya, and I spoke in Sefaradit, so if (when) I said something ridiculous, I think they assumed I was saying something brilliant but my Hebrew was making it incomprehensible.
-Another highlight- visiting Harav Chaim Goldberg, Yosef Chaim ben Bunya. He and R Dovid Cohen have been distributing Tzedaka for many years, and they investigate the recipients to ensure that the recipients are worthy and truly needy and not layabouts who are buying apartments for their kids in Yerushalayim. Last year they gave out seven million dollars. In a clear case of Tzadik v'ra lo, Reb Dovid is suffering from cancer, and I hope my bikkur cholim lifted his spirits. May Hashem send him a refuah shleima umehira.