Tuesday, July 13, 2010


After a pep talk at the ‘rally’ from leaders and rabbis, the boys went one way and the girls another way to fields which had already been cleared. This photographer went with the girls and the experienced young man that was their madrich for the day.
At first, both of us were just shaking our heads as we watched with fear and trepidation as the in-experienced girls started whacking away at the ground in the sandals and crocs, skirts blowing in the wind and gold jewelry necklaces swinging freely from side to side. I looked at him and asked: “How did you get this job!” He rolled his eyes, shook his head and patiently walked to the girls and tried to give a few instructions: “You are standing on a field. This is a sapling tree in my hand. You are going to dig a hole. And then we will plant the tree in it.” Easy enough! Right? Absolutely not! Being females, no one was listening and everyone was talking.
But they took to the field with weapons – oh! Excuse me! – tools in their hands, two by two, and started punching the ground, hardly scratching the surface. Anyone knows in Israel there’s nothing but rock under the surface. So, after scratching the surface, everyone was yelling for their instructor to help, yelling at him: “I hit a rock! Come and get this rock out of the way!” They would just stand there in a prissy pose like they were running for “America’s Next Top Model” as he made his way from one to the other digging the hole for them. Believe me! He needed to solicit the help of a whole lot more heroes for this crowd.
This was the girls’ strategy: Two girls stood face to face, one with a pick-axe over her head and one with a pick-axe to the ground on the count of two they were to swing simultaneously. One axe went up, the other went down. And eventually you were to have a good rhythm working as a team. In the midst of all the giggles and the timing w-a-y off, this is where I closed my eyes and just aimlessly clicked the camera button, hoping we would all leave the area in one piece and hopefully NOT in an ambulance or worse.
When this proved to be futile, some of the girls opted to remove rocks from the field, so they tiptoed through the pile of rocks and carefully selected the not-so-heavy ones to throw out. This took more time than if they just rolled over one after another. But what do I know!
Okay, that’s too much for a girl to do, so what’s next? To accommodate giving them something workable, yet easier, a few were told to go to the vineyard which had been planted some time back, has taken root and growing nicely. In that place, they were to remove the weeds. Wow! This proved to be the easiest task of all since Israeli weed roots are only surface deep and don’t grow any deeper because of the rock. Yeah!
As we descended the hill, I looked again across the field of labor below. The girls had taken on a new attitude and were working together with determination. They were applying muscle behind the tools and swinging them with more power. It seemed my perspective from a higher position was more revealing and I thought of Hashem and His perspective of things from His position must be yet even clearer: I smiled as I thought: “Does He see this as humorous as I do?” And for a moment I was comforted by the thought that it really doesn’t matter how much is accomplished. It is the effort we extend to live, grow and develop His Land that He is pleased with.
Gleaners of the fields like Ruth they are not, but these Jewish girls are Esthers, queens in the making.

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