I hope this comes out with as much humor as I am feeling...I really do.
So, the way I told Elie about this was..."Elie, you were my first child to blow something up..."
He looked around, "what happened?" he asked. He wasn't concerned. I'm sure he could tell from my voice that this was not a serious matter. His younger brother was turning red and so I continued.
"And Davidi," I said, "is the first of my children to have something blown up."
"Huh? What did you do?" Elie asked.
Well, Davidi took the bus to the train to school today. Jerusalem's light rail is finally finished and running through the city. It provides an interesting backdrop when you see the modern train cruising past the ancient walls of the Old City; it's fun to see it go along the tracks. It's still hard to forgive the train for the horrible traffic jams and the damage it did to businesses for the last few years, but the center of Jerusalem is bustling again and so I try to put aside the bad memories...
So, Davidi took the train because it goes very close to his school. And, he forgot his backpack on the train. He called them; they told him that they had it. He took the train from one end to the other, to the terminal where the trains start, and the woman handed him a lady's purse.
No, that's not mine, he told the woman.
She handed him a red bag. "No," he told her politely, "it was a black bag with red and black sunglasses inside."
"What time did you leave it on the train?" she asked him.
"10:00," he answered.
"That was probably one of the two bags they blew up today."
I'm not sure what the protocol is from here. We wait, I guess, to see if somehow it wasn't his bag, his sunglasses and worst of all, the keys to his locker.
Uh oh...and as I asked him one last time what was in there. He suddenly remembered that perhaps a book that he borrowed from someone was in there. He's not sure what else.
I'm not sure why I find this so funny. The sunglasses were good ones, the book will have to be replaced.
But as I tried to comfort him, I told him about one of the beliefs I have taken into myself. Each Yom Kippur, as the holy day arrives, Jews perform a short ceremony at home in which they circle something around their heads (most Jews today take a few coins; some still follow the tradition of circling a live chicken around their heads) and say a prayer that whatever bad God has planned for us in the coming year, let it instead find its way somewhere else - to the chicken, to the money.
The concept is - take my money, God, please, don't take my health. The ceremony is called "kapparah" - and once when a cousin lost her wedding and engagement rings, instead of being upset (I think I was upset enough for both of us), she said, "Kapparah," and then explained, "every year, I ask God to take my possessions, my money and to leave me with my health. Now, God's taken my rings, should I complain? Kapparah."
It was almost an earth-shaking experience. How can we complain about anything, if we take it in this light? Kapparah - let this little thing atone for what I've done wrong, rather than exacting the full punishment. Kapparah.
As I spoke to Davidi, I told him - Kapparah. A backpack, sunglasses - Kapparah - you're fine, you're health - better than your bag. They blew it up, you see because we live in a society where people leave bombs in bags and so we have these robot things that slowly approach a suspicious object and with its robotic hand, it pulls the bag away - out of the train and to an open area.
And then the police call out to everyone to stop - and the robot shoots into the bag to set the "bomb" off. Most times, someone's lunch or weekend bag becomes the casualty. This time, it was Davidi's bag - kapparah.
He's fine. He's healthy. He's tall and strong...and we need to buy him new sunglasses. Kapparah!