[Sometimes, when I discuss life in Israel I say something like the following:
“From the moment you get off* the flight in Tel Aviv, you are in a completely different culture; everything is different from what went before.”
The following post is a short and bittersweet example.]
Over Sukkot, I got lazy and stopped shaving. Slowly, a beard formed. As it was taking shape, I was getting used to it, and thinking whether to keep it. Beyond that, I paid it no attention.
This week, several work colleagues asked me if everything was ok. Slowly, I realised why they were asking. I didn’t normally have a beard. In the orthodox Jewish tradition, you do not shave when you are in mourning. Many who are not orthodox follow that practice. So, these people were asking if I had lost someone and was in mourning. (This was not something I would have experienced in the UK.) The repeated requests made me uncomfortable, and in a strange way I was worried about tempting ‘fate’. So, I decided, the beard must go. And now it’s gone as part of my Shabbat preparations and I feel better.
[*Some would say, from the moment you get on the flight…]