| War Diaries |

An Ordinary Monday 

Anachnu ma’aminim bnei ma’aminim!” the boys sing with all their hearts. This isn’t just cute singing



t’s just an ordinary Monday when I step out of my apartment into the bright sunshine of an Israeli winter. Wrapped in my lightweight coat, I smile as the wind tickles my cheeks and the sunlight and its shadows play hide-and-seek between the cars.

The faintest sounds of music come down the block, and I realize with a start that it’s Rosh Chodesh Adar, and the school down the street is engaging in its usual minhag of singing before starting lessons for the day. The songs waft in the air, giving the atmosphere the feeling of joyousness. As I walk, a bounce comes into my step.

Coming closer, the music begins to take form as words. I slow to listen.

Hatov, hatov, hatov!” the rebbi sings with gusto. “Ki lo chalu rachamecha,” the boys join in excitedly. “V’hamerachem, ki lo samu chasadecha….”

Drinking in brilliant blue skies and the incredible view before me, my heart lifts with joy. Where else do you hear these songs in the streets? “Hatov, hatov, hatov,” I murmur along with them, caught up in the spirit.

So much goodness. Never-ending rachamim. The excitement of the young boys is palpable. In my mind’s eye I see them singing with excitement and elation in the schoolyard.

Ki me’olam kivinu lach,” the rebbi- turned-singer sings. My eyes seem to suddenly fill with unshed tears. Now, and forever, we hope to You, Hashem, I think.

I walk into a makolet to fill up my Rav-Kav. When I leave, the song has changed. I stride closer to the bus stop opposite the school. They’re singing Al Hanissim now. Cute. I smile again and prepare to continue with my day.

It’s an ordinary Monday. I miss the bus and the next one takes its time to come, so I settle onto the slightly warmed metal of the bench at the bus stop to listen.

The song changes again. “Yisrael, Yisrael, betach baShem, ezram umaginam hu….”

There’s no one else at the bus stop. I tap my feet to the rhythm of the music.

Anachnu ma’aminim bnei ma’aminim!” the boys sing with all their hearts. This isn’t just cute singing. These boys — their fathers, brothers, and uncles — are on the front lines. Perhaps their regular rebbi is out there, too? And yet, yet. They sing with joy — we are Yisrael, we are betach baShem. We’re ma’aminim bnei ma’aminim. Although the State wants to believe in its weaponry, in its skill and knowhow, we believe “Ela, ela al Avinu, Avinu she’baShamayim.”

The tempo changes. Same words, different tune. Now they’re singing Shlomo Carlebach’s famous song: “Yisrael, Yisrael, Yisrael, betach baShem.” It’s like a mantra. The rebbi sings it over and over on the microphone as the boys join in loudly.

We are Yisrael. We are betach baShem. And even though the world is watching us with contempt, even as we send our brothers, our fathers, our sons into battle, we know that we rely ela al Avinu she’baShamayim.

And suddenly the songs aren’t just sweet. They’re the sound of a nation coming through the hardest of battles with a strong emunah that pulls us through.

It’s Adar. A time for joy. And although it’s a joy mixed with sadness, it’s also a joy mixed with emunah.

My bus arrives and I dash on, despite wishing I could listen all day. It’s fuller than usual, and I look around for a seat. There aren’t any available. On this ordinary Monday the bus is full. Behind me sits a man in a wheelchair. He’s missing a leg — did he just lose it in the war? In front of me sit two young chassidishe men, curly peyos dangling to their shoulders. And in the gravelly voice that’s recognizable as Down syndrome, one young man turns to the other. “Ani sameiach,” he says, “ani mamash sameiach.” I can’t help but smile.

It’s Adar. Purim is coming. Part of us hurts for our brothers in captivity, with our brothers on the front lines, yet part of us fills with joy at the approaching spring and sounds of music. And we have parts that are confused. But as Yidden that’s how we exist. Somehow, the joy mingles with pain, and deep down we know that everything is tovki lo chalu rachamecha — His Goodness never dries up. And that’s why, me’olam kivinu lach — forever, we will hope to You. After all, anachnu maaminim bnei maaminim.

The bus slows to a halt. It’s the last stop on this route, and everyone gets off into the bright Israeli sunshine. An ordinary Monday indeed.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 886)

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