Friday, October 21, 2011

Simchat Torah -- Surrounded by Children

Journey's 4 came out shortly before Channah was born. I listened to that CD on so many of my trips back and forth from the hospital. I felt personally connected to a bunch of the songs. One in particular was about post war Europe, where some survivors enter a boarded up shul to celebrate Simchat Torah. They discover that the Sifrei Torah are gone but there are a pair of children hiding in the shul.

We danced round and round in circles as if the world had done no wrong
From evening until morning, filling up the shul with song
Though we had no sifrei Torah to clutch an hold up high
In their place we held those children, am yisrael chai"

Every Simchat Torah, I would think of this song as I danced with Channah. She was my Sefer Torah. Last year we realized that it was the last year that she would be my Sefer Torah. She was getting too big to dance with me at shul. Rachel and I were both comforted, knowing there was going to be a new Sefer Torah to dance with this year.

Last night at shul, I could feel a tear in my soul. I wanted to connect to the joy and deep meaning of the day. At the same time, I didn't have my Sefer Torah to hold and dance with. I had a hard time participating, never mind enjoying the night. I had expressed to the Rabbi earlier in the week that I wanted Kol HaNearim. He told me that it had been taken care of.

This morning the auction reached Kol HaNearim. (Chatan Bereshit & Chatan Torah are assigned before the Chag). I immediately put up my hand to bid. Things went so fast that I am not sure how much I bid, but I had to withdraw pretty quickly. A friend dropped out when bidding hit 1000 NIS. Very quickly, the price hit 2000 NIS. The Rabbi called a timeout and asked who the other bidder was. They had a short meeting. The other bidder was someone who is really important in our life and is one of the people we consider to be our adopted family. The auctioneer choked up as he announced the two had formed a syndicate and had purchased the Aliyah for 4000 NIS and were giving it to me. Suddenly, I was overcome with a feeling of peace and comfort. I was able to fully enjoy Hakafot.

The Aliyah gave me a lot more Chizuk then I thought it would. All the kids said the bracha with me while Channah stood behind me. My aliyah talked about the land allocated to Dan, Naphtali and Asher. Our home is in the Dan region and Naphtali was the name we were going to use if Channah had been a boy. Chattan Bereshit (which came right after mine), mentioned Moshe seeing "Gilad" before he died and the Gabi reference, where Moshe died and we don't know where he is burried. It also contains the letter that I wrote for Gabi, although leining was not taking place from that particular Sefer Torah.

I do not believe in segulahs, as they tend to be people putting their faith into made up rituals, where the outcome is not always in our hand. However, having Kol HaNarim seemed to be the correct way to express everything that we have been through this year. I spent the time hoping that Hashem will grant our prayers to not be quite in the same positions next year. Next year, I will be more than happy to stand by and watch as I hold my own new and little Sefer Torah in my arms. May Hashem answer this one prayer with a yes.

Monday, October 17, 2011

What an End to the Season

Today was the end of the winter softball season. Wow, what a way to end the season. The game was at Baptist Village which is a lot further away then where we play most of our games. It was the first time, I played there. It had a very different feel then Gezer field as the out field fences were better designed to contain the ball. When I arrived the Sunday night pick up game was still playing. I asked them what type of ball they were using because it was bouncing like it was one of the rubber balls you use to play baseball inside a gym when it snows. It turns out that is was just that the field was very muddy, even though the mud was dry.

Before the game could start, we had an unusual problem. We had a full 9 man team but the other team was one man short. Not only that but one of our players brought a bunch of his kids including a 16 year old that we lent to their team. The original trade was a player straight for nothing. Then we realized that most of our main players were away and we only had one bat. At that point we sent in another negotiator to get a bat as part of the trade. We also gave them a LF, until his turn a bat (he batted 7th in the first) until their "9th" player arrived.

I started the game batting clean up and playing 2nd base. The first inning we scored a bunch of runs and held them scoreless on a bunch of pop ups. The 2nd inning they caught up, after we went 3 up 3 down. I was able to catch an inning ending pop up, which is a play that has been a problem for me as long as I have played baseball. First inning I had a one out ground out to advance the runner to their. Second inning I struck out.

Third inning I grounded out again. I also dropped a pop up. Then the controversy started. With the bases loaded, a ground ball was fielded and thrown home. The ball hit the catchers glove and it landed in his feet. The umpire called him out. He said the catcher had the ball and dropped it after being bumped by the base runner. They then hit a grounder to me, which I turned into an inning ending 4-3 double play. The other teams coach who had been on 3rd base at the time went nuts.

In the 4th we made a pitching change. Our (ringer) catcher, came into pitch for our coach. I was moved behind the plate. I did not have a good game behind the plate. On what play with runners on 1st and 2nd with two out a grounder was hit to our 3rd baseman. Umpire yelled, foul ball, so he didn't rush to make a play. Then he said my mistake and tried to rule it a fair ball. If it had been fair the inning would have been over. Once again their coach went nuts arguing the call. He wanted it to count as a single with the bases loaded. It was eventually ruled no pitch and the batter flew out to CF ending the inning.

In the top of the fifth the score was 11-10 with me at the plate with two runners on. I hit a clutch RBI single passed the second baseman making the score 12-10. We scored our last run on a wild pitch bringing the score to 13-10.

In the bottom of the fifth I was still catching. Two runs had scored making the score 13-12. Then the batter struck out with a ball low in the dirt. I don't know if it was a strike or not. All I know is I caught the ball and tagged the runner for good measure. The coach of the other team came out yelling at the umpire again. The ump said either you go or I go and walked off the field. Eventually he came back to finish off the inning. At that point, I went back to 2nd and our catcher went behind the plate as our regular pitcher returned to the mound to go for the save. First play was a ground ball to short which, was thrown to me for a 6-4 out. Then the next ball was grounded directly to me, for me to get the unassisted last out. The game was called, even though there was time left, because the umpires didn't want things to get more out of hand.

When hand shakes went around their coach shook on umpires hand but not the other. This lead to another shouting match, with the coach being threatened with expulsion from the league and the umpire being critized by the other ump for stirring things up.

The final outcome is we won our last game 13-12. Despite my mistakes, I made a solid contribution to the win.