retreat

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When I was a young man and traveling abroad, in foreign countries, sometimes far away from my people and from my country I would often meet people who barely knew what a Jew was… who knew nothing of our customs and beliefs. Many times, I was told, ‘I know there were Jews in the bible, but I didn’t know they still exist’. Sometimes people would call me an Israelite, because they didn’t want to use the word ‘Jew’; they thought it was a bad word. And so, I realized that I had to be careful about the way I talked or behaved. Because people were likely to assume that my behavior reflected upon or described all of the Jewish people. I used to tell people, ‘I’m half Jewish and half cat’.

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And what I’ve chosen to discuss today, certainly describes the cat in me… much more than my Jewish heritage. Beyond the famous ten commandments, we have 613 precepts, which we consider commandments too, among them things we should do, and things we shouldn’t do, some of which are described in English as ‘good deeds’. Among the most popular of these good deeds, is visiting those who are suffering from illness, visiting the grieving. And this includes of course those who are suffering from sadness or depression. Maimonides, one of our greatest philosophers, tells us that it is a greater pleasure to visit with the grieving than it is to rejoice at a wedding.

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And though this is the custom of our people, and I too enjoy visiting the ill and the grieving… and believe this is a far better way of dealing with sickness and grief than the support groups that are common these days in the west, I myself prefer to retreat. When I am ill, when I’m grieving, when I’m unhappy, I prefer to be all alone, to deal with my sorrow or my difficulty by myself. This is very unacceptable in my society, and at times, close friends and family have been offended by my behavior. I tell people that it’s the cat in me. And they try to understand. But they’re usually sure that I would feel much better if I could talk about it, or share it with others.

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My daughter Rivka has discussed it at length with me, and tried to analyze my behavior psychologically. And I think that her explanations may be right. She says that I’m reverting to a behavior mode that recalls my childhood when I was very alone for a long period of time. But having studied cats for years, it’s easier for me to explain that it’s the cat in me and leave it at that. Cats will often hide away when they aren’t feeling well. And yet… when I’m not feeling well, my cat friends will often come to stay by me. And I don’t usually push them away. Because in those circumstances, they are respectful and don’t try to cheer me up. They just sit by my side in silence.

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I had three disappointments lately… on the internet. People I respected, and felt a closeness too, in a human and emotional way, and who made judgments about my people that I felt were completely wrong. It hurts me because I respected and like them. I would have expected them to learn more about the subjects at hand before making their pronouncements. My first instinctual desire was to shut up. To stop blogging in English. I know there are a lot of other people who read my blog, and that even those among them who don’t sympathize with my country, realize that there might be more going on than they fully understand. And there are some that do sympathize. But the fact that someone I truly respect and feel close to as a human being would accuse me falsely has a very strong influence on me.

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Which brings me to another subject, asceticism. I think I’ve written enough for today. I will leave that for another post. Let me just say that none of my cat friends pictured above were suffering from illness or unhappiness. I wouldn’t have photographed them if they were. I have too much respect for someone in pain to photograph such a scene, though some photographers I admire have done just that.

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118 responses to “retreat

  1. You’ve touched on a difficult subject with such grace, Shimon. It’s so hard to build bridges across cultures and belief systems – secure ones, that is; ones you can trust in. As humans we seem so prone to cling to our prejudices, even if we try to keep them hidden, or talk ourselves out of them. To resort to your cat-self in times of upset seems a soothing thing to do, although one suspects that even cats have their opinions that are not always complimentary. But, yes, it is awful when understanding breaks down. It is often hard to know how to repair the damage. But don’t stop talking to us.

    • I agree with you that it is hard to build bridges across the divide between cultures. And it’s a lifetime’s work to overcome our prejudices. Certainly, cats have very strong opinions, and many prejudices. I had serious doubts about discussing this subject before I wrote about it. But I decided to take a chance. I got some very interesting comments, and I realize there is a lot of room for clarifications. Thank you for your comment. I really appreciate it.

  2. Hello Shimon,
    I can relate to many aspects of your post: illness and reclusiveness (even if I have a half-functioning blog about it), my beloved cat–who just had a recurrence of cancer and is now the whole blog, and being a Jewish blogger who has dealt with anti-Semitism on WP. Sigh. I enjoyed poking around your blog and viewing your wonderful photos of Nechama–what a charcoal beauty. I’ll add you to my bookmarks.
    Good Shabbas,
    A

    • It was good to meet you A, and as you know, I had a look at your blog; read a few of your posts. Sometimes it’s hard choosing what to write about. But whatever we choose, we’re going to attract people who’re interested in that subject. Up until now, I haven’t had any experiences with anti-semitism on WP. I’m sorry to hear that you were troubled by that. Thank you for your Shabbes greetings, and I’m sending you my wishes for a gut woch.

      • It was good to meet you, Shimon. I went by my real name on here until the incidents happened and for some reason, I thought that’s what you were referring to in this post, but I see from the comments that it was anti-Zionist rhetoric–all the same, whether directed at you or not. What happened to me made me want to stop blogging, but I spoke about it, added some security to my blog like Israel would do, and moved on. I hope this too shall pass. I am a liberal and have major issues with the liberals in the US that believe Palestinians live in an apartheid state. Oy.

        Yes, I blog about my illnesses (aside from my cat due to her illness), so my readers generally are like I am or suffer from other chronic ailments. Having low vision makes it quite a challenge! Regardless, after poking around here, I really enjoyed your blog in general and the post where you and Nechama had a conversation about the B&W cat was the best thus far, but I have much more to read. I thought only my cat spoke in such an intellectual way and I hope she doesn’t secretly think I’m a gorilla!

        A gut woch to you, as well. I learned a new Yiddish word from you as I don’t recall ever learning that growing up. My grandparents’ generation would say whole sentences and then I would be utterly lost, as I’m around 40 and Yiddish is going and going–so sad. I do check my bookmarks weekly, or try, so I will see you soon my friend…
        Leah (my Hebrew name and alias on your blog)

        • Thank you so much for sharing your Hebrew name with me, Leah. I really appreciate that. And yes, when I hear such things, as the Palestinians living in an apartheid state, it really upsets me. Because I have watched as my countrymen have forgiven the unforgivable, and tried so hard to work with the so called Palestinians (we ourselves were once called Palestinians in my own lifetime), to try and help them make a better life for themselves. There isn’t enough room on a blog to tell all the stories I could tell. So I won’t even try… I’m very glad you enjoyed my cat posts. That’s what really matters to me, and you’ll find very little about politics on the blog. But I guess sometimes, we’re sensitive about something, and it all comes out.

          • 🙂
            If you blog on politics, you’ll run into trouble for sure! I know you have a million stories to share and a million heartbreaks. I’ve met many Israelis in the States of all ages. I am aware that before ’48 (or so I believe), the Jews in the land were referred to as Palestinians, but I have no other word to use in English. Well, nothing appropriate and I’ll keep it at that.

            Enough of my rants so you can have a safe blog here on WP.
            Leah

            • I certainly wouldn’t consider anything you’ve said here to be a rant. I enjoy and appreciate exchanging views and ideas with you, Leah. As for politics, though I think it’s an important part of a free society, I don’t have that much interest in that area of activity. Once I did. But now I much prefer art and music and literature. I certainly wouldn’t blog about politics. Thanks.

  3. Lots of things here that resonate with me, Shimon. I too prefer to be on my own if I am in pain physically or emotionally – it is a characteristic of introverts, although I much prefer your description of being a cat. And I too find it difficult when so many people don’t bother to get as full a picture of a situation as possible, and make up their opinions in a superficial or uninformed way. Being a Christian in the west these days means we are, in many quarters, a scorned minority; and I too constantly experience people making judgements about us that are false. One has to learn to live with freedom and generosity in such situations, with the help of the Almighty.

    And I love all your pictures of cats.

    • I’m sure it’s difficult being a believing Christian these days. Much of western society feels they’ve been pushed around and abused by the Christian establishment, and there’s a general hostility towards religion. On the other hand, Christianity started out as a minority, speaking to the humble, and asking man to ‘turn the other cheek’, so I am sure that Christians can see a lot of learning opportunities in the verbal antagonism they face in the west. In the middle east it is much harder, of course. Here Christians are physically abused, raped, and sometimes murdered just for being Christians.

  4. I can totally understand wanting to be alone when not feeling too good, I too much prefer to alone with my animals when ill, they do understand and as you say they just sit quietly giving companionship.

    I like the fact you are half cat….now here’s the strange thing, my dad always said the same thing, and he also said that I’m half wildling!

    To me, first and foremost, you are Shimon….a fantastic person, and everything else is what makes you so interesting….. but I think there will only ever be one Shimon!!! Don’t you DARE stop blogging…I would miss you DREADFULLY. My dad always said, “You can’t please all of the people all the time.” Very true I think….which is why I just try be myself, like you, and stay true to myself and not worry too much about the unpleased!!!! It can rankle though…..and be hurtful.

    Beautiful cat pictures…..is that ginger tom your cat side???xxxx

    • Well, I was beginning to feel a connection to your father even before this… and now it’s even stronger. You know, I was a little hesitant about writing this post. I was afraid I’d disturb a hornet’s nest. But the comments have been interesting. I didn’t want to stop blogging because I was insulted or hurt. But because I felt that there really is a barrier to understanding us. And I don’t want to be the one to explain or justify us. I don’t have that much time, and if I write, I prefer to write about what I love. These things I’d read recently made me feel that the misunderstanding was overwhelming. But I do enjoy writing to you, and a few other friends I appreciate… and maybe I should think of this as a conversation between friends, with a whole lot of other people listening in. And yes Dina, now that you mention it, I am a Tom cat, but not a redhead. Once upon a time, my hair was dark brown, and now it’s white. xxx

      • Ahhhhh….I understand better now. But….I really do have my fingers and toes crossed that you are going to carry on blogging, it would be awful if you just disappeared…just like that. It may be a virtual world but I have found a wonderful, unique friend in you and would be gutted to lose you.

        A white tom cat….wonderful…..we just need a name for your cat side now!!! xxxx

        • I’m glad you understand, Dina. I think I will keep on blogging, and it’s be because of people like you. And I’ll tell you something funny about me, in light of my identification with the cats. Among us Hebes, the names as in the case of the American Indians, have a meaning. And my name translated to English is ‘listening wolf’. Maybe it’s this double animal nature that has connected between us.

  5. I don’t know the details of your three recent disappointments on the Internet, but I wonder if they involved people who would identify themselves as “leftists” or “progressives.” I say that because most such people in the United States seem to have a bias against Israel. That creates a strange situation for many Jewish “progressives,” who agree with their ideological fellows on almost everything else. It’s just one of many strange things in the world.

    In any case, I wouldn’t want your disheartening experiences to lead you to abandon your English writing, which, as you yourself pointed out, many people enjoy.

    • Actually, what you say, Steve, makes a lot of sense. Though of the three, only one of them was what we might call a true blue leftist, and he wasn’t even from America. In all three cases, what I read was on the blogs of others, and not aimed at me. These are people I really do respect and have affection for. They just don’t really know what they are talking about in the case of Israel. One of the reasons that American leftists are unsympathetic towards Israel, is that they believe the narrative which equates us to the colonial powers of the 19th century and earlier. They are very opposed to the natives being misused by the white man, and stand on the side of the ‘underdog’. In our case, it’s completely different. But I am an old man, and don’t feel I have either the time or the desire to try and counter all the propaganda that has been spread against us. Especially because I respect these people, I felt very strongly the gap between my audience and myself. I felt that though I’ve learned to express myself in English, who I am and what my people are is something that foreigners aren’t able to understand. Thank you very much for your comment. I was encouraged by many of the comments I received to this post.

  6. I hope you will keep blogging in English for those of us who love your words so much. I often feel as an American that I am somewhat cut off from other cultures and ideas and I find your words about Israel and the Jewish people to be very educational. I love hearing about your culture and seeing pictures of your life in Israel. It is difficult to write and put our inward self out on the internet for other people and I know I have been hurt along the way too. Sometimes I have to step away for a time but I’m thankful for the people who are always still there when I come back. I hope you will always come back to us with your beautiful words.

    • Thank you very much for your kind words, Kari Ann. I’ve found the comment I received on this post encouraging, and I feel a bit more relaxed about the subject after a very fine Sabbath.

  7. Can we really know what a virtual ‘friend’ is really like? It’s difficult enough with people we meet every day! People may pretend to be tolerant on the internet to present an image of themselves and then suddenly you may see the hidden side in a comment for example. If you look for prejudice you find it everywhere. Steve Schwarzman seems to have a definite and pre-judging opinion of ‘leftists’ or ‘progressives’ – a lot to unpack there. I have just seen a poem referring I think to the 20th century persecution of the Jews used by a ‘friend’ on Facebook to show how Berlusconi is an abused minority! Certainly another and not very appealing side to that person.

    • I agree with you, that one has to know a friend for quite some time before we can understand the next guy really well. I’m not sure that it makes a big difference whether the friendship is ‘virtual’ or real, working alongside a colleague day in and day out. I don’t have the impression that Steve is pre-judging ‘leftists’. As I explained to him in my response, the left has a very strong reaction to any situation which seems like imperialism or the white man subjugating natives, and unfortunately, because many don’t understand Israeli history well, they associate us with this historic injustice. Unfortunately, my knowledge of Italian politics is also very poor, and so I don’t know much more about Berlusconi than the reported items about his fondness for young girls. When I look for prejudice, I mostly focus on myself, trying to overcome my own prejudices. And I can say that most of the people I’ve found on the net are quite tolerant. Thank you very much for your comment, slithygimble.

  8. Gentle peace in your solitude, Shimon. I’ve learned we heal our energetic disturbances, whether grief or illness, depression or fatigue, regret or rejection (and so many others) as best as we can, and shouldn’t be judged for the paths of soul-mending we pursue if they contribute to our own finest healing and hurt no one in the process.

    Our hurts and losses can be over-verbalized, I think; at least, mine can, and they lose their significance for my learning and deep healing by trying to pin them down with words, or by repeating them over and over to different listeners.

    That said, I have been blessed with cherished companions who listen deeply, if I determine I need that. At times, another perspective readjusts my own wisely and generously. But I first and sometimes always, need to recollect my spirit and peace in solitude, with my 4-leggeds’ silent presence accompanying me back to my center, where I can rest and breathe and find my rhythm again, till I’m ready to emerge with confidence/peace…

    I send you great love and wishes for the restoration of your balance and peace. I regret that your heart has been hurt and hope its mending will end in delight.

    • Thank you Kitty, for your kind and understanding words regarding solitude, grief, and illness. I agree with what you say about over-verbalization in times of hurt. I think we understand one another well. And just because I know you take an active interest in politics from reading your blog, and think you might have many friends who see us as an imperialist entity in the middle east, and abusing indigenous people living in ‘conquered territories’, I would like to tell you a few things about my country. If it interests you, you can check it out for yourself.

      We have always wanted peace… even long before Israel was declared a state. But the Arabs living around us have attacked us… before we were a state, and before there were any conquered territories. They sponsored terrible attacks on our people, wholesale slaughter of Jews to get them to abandon cities. To this day, Jews are not allowed to live in Jordan or Saudia Arabia. After the war in 1948, the Jews of the neighboring countries were killed or chased out. In the areas of Israel conquered by the Arabs, no Jews were left. In east Jerusalem, they build a public rest room built of the grave stones of Jews who were buried there. On the Israeli side, Arabs were treated with respect, given the same freedoms that the Jews enjoyed. To this day, Arab Israelis enjoy freedom of speech and freedom of the press that is unknown in any other country of the middle east. They have representatives in the parliament, who have no problem condemning our country and lying in public about conditions here. The Israeli Arabs enjoy a living standard higher than any other in the middle east. Every war we’ve been involved in has been initiated by Arabs who refuse to accept us as a people. I personally have had innocent civilian friends and students who’ve been murdered in cold blood by the Palestine Liberation Organization.

      • I appreciate your time and point of view, Shimon. My political involvement is quite localized; i.e., my state and “country,” although these borders seem absurd at times. I really don’t get into discussing foreign politics unless, as in Rwanda, obvious human rights are being abused and genocide is occurring…histories and relations between Israel and Palestine, like so many other countries in our world, are far deeper and more complex than I can offer judgement or useful opinions to ameliorate…I only pray for peace and try to manage what peace I can in my own heart and relations…and that is challenging enough.

        • Personally, I don’t think such borders absurd at all. And one blogger I’ve been reading developed some very strong ideas regarding Israel, mainly because he felt that Israel was involving America in problems that the USA didn’t need and could do without. But I understand your feeling remote from the question and had no intention of sucking you into such a dispute. In the case of Rwanda, one of my sons was there at the time of the great tragedy, on a medical mission… and the whole story reminded me once again, how despite so called assurances from world powers, when the going gets tough, the victims are left to ache and die. Thank you so much for your beautiful comments.

  9. Shimon don’t stop blogging in english…please. My Hebrew isn’t that great…anymore. I don’t know what these indiviuals said and did but don’t let it let it be the catalyst to have your voice silenced. Even in Canada there are many that have preconcieved notions about Judiasm and Israel. They’re not bad people they just need to be educated. sometimes you can succed and sometimes not.

    • You know, Edith, I never saw myself as someone who was fit to take part in a propaganda war. I just wanted to share some of the things that matter to me with others, I started blogging in English because I’d met people in other countries, and visitors to our country that I cared for, and we continued to correspond. Blogging seemed like an easy way to stay in touch. Some of the things I read recently, made me realize that the gap was bigger than I imagined. I may continue blogging. I’ve received some very nice comments to this post. Thank you so much for your comment.

  10. I really enjoyed your perspective on wanting to be alone when in pain, and I also understand that being Jewish that is not something that is always acceptable (ie sitting shiva, bikor cholim). I can relate to the feelings of disappointment in regards to having respect for someones opinion and then being let down when they actually show their true side. Please do not stop blogging about your life and experiences. You make a true Kiddush Hashem in your portrayal of our Land and our People. Thanks, Have a Shabbat Shalom. PS That gingee cat is so beautiful and reminds me of my Gino…Oh the things we can learn from our furry friends 🙂

    • You’re quite right, Abby. Not only can we learn from our friends and our fellows, but we can also learn from many living creatures. I don’t feel let down by these people. I understand that they live in a world very different from mine, and see things from a very different perspective. I just had the feeling last week, that the gap between the cultures was too great. Having received comments from people dear to me, has been encouraging. Thank you very much for your kind comment.

  11. Hello Shimon
    Of course ,firstyou have my sympathy… it’s also interesting to look at what hurt you most
    This person or persons were people you thought you knew and trusted,you felt empathy,you liked or loved them.To be hurt by someone we trust and care for is worse than being hurt by a stranger.Yet,if we open our heart we are vulnerable.And alas even if we have good judgment with only written words here to communicate we may be filling in the gaps wrongly
    Or the person is having a bad day
    Secondly, the person passed comments and gave views on a topic most dear to you,Israel.They criticised without appearing to know very much about it.They have picked up a ready made view and slotted that in front of their eyes.
    If the person was a true friend they would talk to you privately to get more information before a public comment or they would keep silent.But we all fail to live up to our ideals….
    Yet, it almost seems they wanted to hurt you…..How could they not know?
    Maybe it’s like,marry in haste and repent at leisure if we put write for marry.
    It’s so easy to put on a comment or dash off an email and press the send button.
    Maybe they think you are very tough and thick skinned….. but getting three episodes would affect most of us.
    Perhaps another Jewish person has hurt them and they are taking it out on you..I often,even though i am not a churchgoer think of Jesus’s words
    “Father,forgive them.They know not what they do,”
    Unfortunately that seems to be the case many times.Ignorance can be wilful.
    Can you have hurt them unwittingl? Are they jealous of your mind and art?
    They could ask you about the situation but they did not.Why?We will never know but I have read that many nasty things people say to one are really directed to or are about themselves.
    Aren’t we English wonderful compared to the nasty Israelis?We only killed millions across the world creating an Empire,stole the wealth of many countries and made people slaves.We even invented Concentration Camps.
    But that’s not my fault… it was the Government or the royal family………………
    But now we are all saints here.We have true democracy… we have justice,law and order…. and we buy clothes made in Bangla Desh by children and sweated labour.
    People do love a scapegoat.
    As for your blog,maybe just have a quiet rest.It has been proved letting out anger makes it worse and it may be true of other emotions too.A good listener is hard to find.Meanwhile I shall be wary of friends here…on the net i mean.A retreat sounds like just what you need

    • First of all, let me explain that I saw these thoughts on Israel and the Jews on other people’s blogs. They were not directed at me. They are people I respect and care for still. It’s not a question of feeling betrayed by these people. It wasn’t a bad day, or people in an emotional moment. The problem is, that there are things I don’t talk about much, but they are tied to a lot of very strong emotions. I’ve had people close to me murdered… I’ve seen candy passed out in certain circles after such murders. So it’s not anymore a question of arguing over politics. You mentioned that they may have picked up a ready made view… it could have been that. It could be that when we look at the paper and read something about Bangla Desh, we accept certain information without checking it out, and I can well imagine that people do the same thing about Israel when they have no connection to that country. I can’t blame them. But with all the good will, it is hard to really converse or feel good in the company of someone who might think you’re a nice guy, but you belong to a band of criminals. Maybe, when we open our hearts to people and share the things we love, we need to feel we are on common ground. When I am speaking to my own people in my own language, and we might have great political differences… I don’t have to explain that this is a democratic country where freedom and free speech is taken for granted. And I suppose, I don’t really have the desire to argue with people about what is true and what are lies. I don’t believe we should be wary of friends… even on the net. Friendship is precious. But sometimes it’s hard to bridge between cultures. We have certain things in common. And other things that are hard to understand. Thank you very much for your comment. I really appreciated it.

      • Thanks for explaining as I had not quite understood what happened.I think there is no point arguing unless each person has some willingness to change their mind and in many cases they do not and will not no matter how much you try to explain.Here we see little about Israel in the press but we did see some “Peace Talks” are going to begin and both sides no doubt want concessions from the other.I wish that peace could come but I can’t quite see it yet.But it is not impossible.
        Meanwhile I hope you carry on writing in your usual way. As you see, many people love your blog.The cat photos are lovely here.
        If you have read of the terrible threats made to some women recently on Twitter…..there are some extremely unpleasant people on the internet.
        Here I find if I talk about Israel,or even Jews, friends seem uncomfortable.But now racism of all kinds is growing worse.People are blaming immigrants for the recession.
        A man I know said in his hometown in Northern UK both Catholics and Jews were regarded as scum by the Protestant Christians 30 or 40 years ago.Now most of us don’t go to any church but we have problems with people from certain non- Christian religions.Multi-culturism is not easy yet with people moving about the world it’s common. and gives problems such as should women be able to wear total head coverings with only their eyes showing.In France it’s not permitted but here it is.Yet a terrorist tried to escape wearing female apparel…
        I am glad it was not a personal attack on you,my friend

        • No, I’m not signed on to Twitter, and I haven’t heard of the threats. I consider these antagonisms between subcultures within the population to be self defeating and very unfortunate. Sorry to hear about it.

  12. Shimon,

    Like you, I prefer to be alone when ill, sad, etc. But only today I made an effort to go talk with a special friend about what I am going through… and though I know that in the end it is my attitude (or decision) that will make the difference, it *was* helpful to get out and spend time with a sympathetic soul. But now I am home, being a cat… yet here is your post, touching upon the very thing that I (another soul out here in WP land) am going through… guess what I am saying is I read each of your posts and they all are not only interesting but special… some, like this one, touch more deeply than others.

    As for the disappointing people… like a cat, I try to just walk away… physically as well as in spirit…

    Please correct me if I am wrong (am not Jewish) but I believe the proper word to use here is:
    shalom…
    M

    • Yes, sometimes we do need friends. Sometimes more and sometimes less. I do appreciate what you’re saying, and thank you for coming by and reaching out, M. Shalom is a good word, it means peace, and is used as a greeting too, sometimes meaning hello and sometimes goodbye. Glad to meet you more personally, and wish you well.

  13. If you no longer posted in English, I would miss your words very much. I’d experiment with Google Translator, but it surely isn’t perfect yet!
    I would continue looking at your blog because I like the pictures you post, but I would much rather enjoy your writing as well.
    Perhaps you can take some comfort from the quiet presence of your readers who are with you in electronic sympathy.
    And perhaps you will wish to maintain a bit of cat-like curiosity–wary, to be sure–about the people who you thought were better than they have turned out to be.

    • Thank you very much, Ann. Maybe I needed your reminder, as well as some others I got on this post, that there are some people who enjoy what I have to say, despite the fact that I’m trying to bridge between cultures. Let me tell you about Google Translator. One of my sons, started reading my blog, though he doesn’t know English. When I asked him how he did it, he told me that he uses Google. So I went and read a couple of my own posts on the translator, back into Hebrew. And I was really sorry he was going to that much trouble, because the translation was really off. It might help a little if it’s a business letter or something very simple. But it can be very confusing. Sometimes it tells you the opposite of what the writer means to say. Another thing too, I wasn’t disappointed in these people. They’re okay in my book. They just never took the time to find out the truth about a far away people living in a very different society. And that reminded me of how little I know about other people’s lives. We connect to what we have in common, and often ignore the differences, I suppose. I appreciate your comment.

  14. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    Shimon, I love your pictures of cats, I SO do. Thee’s nothing so utterly beautiful as an animal in its environment, just being.

    Re the rest though, I do hate to imagine anyone has offended you – and knowing I am quite ignorant in many ways, I hope it wasn’t me, though think not as I haven’t talked Jewish issues. I even don’t know what an Israelite is other than someone from Israel, and I did think most people from Israel were of Jewish faith.

    I can’t believe that comment, though ‘there was Jews in the Bible, didn’t know they still existed’ – omg!! In Melbourne, there’s a suburb which is almost like a Jewish town. Jews populate it.

    But NO don’t stop blogging in English!! I’m irregular, but I ALWAYS like to read your thoughts. You are insightful, very human and clearly learned.

    • Glad you enjoy the cat pictures, Noeleen. No, it wasn’t anyone who offended me personally. And you certainly don’t have anything to worry about. When I was traveling in my youth, I met a lot of people who had never met a Jew in their life. And aside from that, there are a lot of assimilated Jews, who might live in Australia or in America, and are more like the countries they live in than they are like us… who continue to live in a Jewish society. I’m glad you enjoy the blog from time to time, and I appreciate your comment, Thanks.

  15. So very awe inspiring. And all the wonderful responses. You sure know how to hit a nerve! I think 613 Would overwhelm me., yet I’m curious to know what they are. Without you listing them, can I find them anywhere? (I haven’t tried Google just yet). As a physician, I marvel at the first one you mention. Could do the world a lot of good.
    Wonderful post Shimon.

    • Hi Bob. Always good to hear from you. I am sure the many different rules of Judaism are translated somewhere. But it’s problematic, because some of the concepts don’t even have words in English. And there are a lot of modern Jews too, who prefer to use something simple like the Golden Rule, or hugging trees, instead of all the obligations of the Jewish religion. But we’ll save such issues for our private discussions. Thanks for your comment, my friend.

  16. Dear Shimon,

    As I haven’t started learning Hebrew yet, you’ll still write in English to educate me, won’t you?

    What a marvellous description as a half cat — it makes me smile — you’ve assimilated into the feline world so well as these cats seem to me very sophisticated creatures. I’m sure they’ve enjoyed your company too.

    You’re a wise man, and you know how best to heal sorrow. I remembered you used to call going away a kind of ‘fishing’? Please correct me if I’m wrong. Perhaps, during your retreat, you may chance upon The Peach Blossom Spring.

    All my best wishes to you.

    • Thank you very much for your kind comment, Janet. I will definitely remember you and others who are willing to accept me for what I am despite all the cultural differences. As for the cats, I may have great differences with individual cats, but perhaps because they have fur on their skin, and walk on four legs, I am always reminded of the differences. With human beings, I suppose I forget at times, and then the differences can be shocking. Thanks for the good wishes, and mine to you.

  17. Thanks for sharing your feelings with all of us. Like many of your followers, I too want to be alone when I am not feeling up to par, or sometimes just when I want to think about something deeply. I always thought perhaps it was because I was an only child.

    Your blog is a real joy to so many. Please don’t stop blogging in English just because of a couple people who have a misunderstanding regarding your beliefs. We all should be free to hold our own beliefs without scorn.

    • I accept what you say, and you say it well, Bev. It’s just that sometimes I forget the differences, and when I hear us accused falsely, I have a desire to close the door, and stay in the company of those who know me intimately, and with whom I share life, language, and culture. I am glad though, that I’ve found some bridges to the outside world, and the comments I got on this post have been encouraging.

  18. Shimon, Goddess and I are quite pleased that you did not choose to stop blogging in English; we fear that we would never become proficient enough in Hebrew to appreciate what you were conveying.

    We’re thankful for the time that we’ve had with you, both virtually and in person, but can still only imagine the sorrow that your recent experiences brought.

    As it is the Shabbat, I trust that you are taking the day, as you do every week, to find your peace.

    • You’re right, Bill. Nothing like the Sabbath to forget outside distress and focus on what really matters in life. I’m feeling better today. It was a great pleasure crossing that bridge, with you and the Goddess, and experiencing live friendship after having enjoyed the virtual. And I will keep in mind that there those non Hebrew friends that I wouldn’t want to desert.

  19. Shimon, please don’t stop blogging, eh? You and your words are loved by many … including me … you know that, don’t you? Purring for you 🙂 Love, cat.

    • You’ve got me there, my dear cat. How could I abandon a cat who actually manages to read my blog?! You should see the way my cat friends look at me when I’m trying to write an article. Sometimes they try and pull my fingers from the keyboard, not understanding why I would waste so much time doing nothing much of interest. They suggest I take a walk, or look at the birds on the tree outside my window. So it’s wonderful that you can read this… even if it’s in English. Love your purring.

  20. Please don’t stop blogging in English. I love learning about Jews and Jewish customs. Even though I no longer blog I still love getting yours in my email. I, too, am like a cat when I’m not feeling well or grieving and could never figure out why people descend on us when a family member passes or there is some catastrophe in life.

    • Thank you very much, Linda. I do very much enjoy the contact we have. Both the rest of the Sabbath, and getting these fine comments helped me see the positive side better. Recently, there was a decision of my government to release 100 murderers from prison in order to enable the ‘peace talks’ with the Palestinians, and this made me more sensitive than usual. Especially since prisoners who’ve been released in the past, went on to murder more innocent people. And so, when I read false accusations against my people, it really got to me this time. I appreciate your comment.

  21. As always, a thought-provoking post about self and culture through metaphors. Being a cat lover, (but although we’ve never met) I understand the analogies.

    It’s interesting that enjoy visiting those grieving or ill, but seek solitude when dealing with those yourself. That’s ok … after all, each of us are different and each of us handle those situations in a different way.

    Lastly,I hope you keep blogging in English!

    • You’re right, Frank. We all have our differences, and I know some of my own habits are a bit illogical. But then, as rational as we are, we live in a world we can’t always explain. I always appreciate your comments, and am delighted by our common interests even though our cultures are very different. Sometimes I even look at those cartoons you share, though I usually don’t get them. Thanks.

  22. Coming from a very noisy family I completely understand what you are saying about grieving in private but it would be a very boring world if we were all the same.

    PS I like all your feline friends

    • Thank you Dallas. How could we be all the same? Isn’t every tree, every blade of grass, an individual. Certainly, so are we. The closer we get to know one another, the more the differences are evident. Glad you like the cats, and thanks for your comment.

  23. Your posts give you away, Shimon. Sooner or later a writer betrays himself / herself by what he says or leaves out. I’m sure you know that that’s one of the reasons that words are considered powerful tools.

    Your posts are gentle and sweet, and speak of a person who has suffered yet not been embittered by his experiences; and you give us all an indirect insight into what Jews / Israelis are like. The people you spoke to probably used the term Israeli because the world has become politically correct, it’s a form of reverse racism. I’m sorry to say that the word Jew has once again become a bad word. I’m saying Israeli because I once heard (don’t know whether or not it’s true) that Jews living in Israel post world war two wanted to distance themselves from the Jewish experience in the diaspora.
    ps. I don’t think that cats are alone. It’s human nature to want to hide somewhere quiet and dark until you’re feeling better.

    • Yes, words are very powerful. In our culture, we believe that the world itself was created with words. And I thank you for your kind words regarding myself. Though I can’t say I am clean of bitterness. I have scars that will last, no doubt, till my last day. But I have looked for the good and beautiful in life, wanting to enjoy it. I am sorry that the word Jew has once again become a bad word, but there is nothing I can do about that. What you heard about the different undertones to Jew and Israeli is true. When the Jews from the ghettos in Europe started coming back to our homeland (the mass movement started at the very beginning of the 20th century, before WWII), there was a popular notion that we had to build a new Jew, whose head wasn’t bowed by the constant harassment of other peoples. There were many Zionist leaders who hoped to see an Israeli in his homeland who would be no different from a Frenchman, an Italian or an American. In my town, Jerusalem, this idea did not have as much sway as in other parts of Israel, but I believe the idea is still popular. Personally, I don’t believe in this approach. I think each person is unique, and among nations too, there is a national character, and it is a mistake to try and be like everyone. On the other hand, I consider racism and prejudice to be self destructive and terrible for anyone who holds such views… usually worse for him than for the victim of racism. Thank you very much for your comments, Mary. You truly add to the value of the post.

  24. I too am very much half cat Shimon. A wonderful way to describe the need to retreat.
    It would be a great shame if you were to stop blogging. I very much look forward to your posts as, it’s clear from reading the many comments on this post and all your posts, that many others do also.
    Ignorance is a terrible thing.

    • Thank you Chillbrook. I appreciate your comment. When I wrote this post, I had serious doubts as to whether I could be understood at all in a hostile world. But having received the comments on this post, I realize that even if I’ve failed in some communication, there are people of other cultures with whom I can relate.

  25. Hello!
    What a post. There’s not a lot I can say that hasn’t already been said, though. The ability to retreat is so important. I remember when I was growing up times when my Mum was sick, and Dad would force us all to be as silent as possible until she was better (I have 3 sisters). She used to hate it though, because she liked the company. I thought I preferred to be alone but it turns out I don’t really, unless I’m trying to sleep and I’m struggling to do it. It really is what you are used to growing up with, I guess! As for the internet issues, some people out there will never try to be open and understanding, unfortunately. The internet tends to being out the worst in people, so if you can shine through as a good person online then you’re really doing a good job 🙂

    • That type of situation is so difficult, Jess. I remember something similar when we had little children, and my parents would come and visit us. My father wasn’t feeling so well, and it always seemed as if my mother was over protecting him, and that he would have liked to play with his grandchildren. And then some years later, I had a heart attack, and found myself in a similar situation. I enjoyed the company of my grandchildren, but even a conversation could wear me out. People didn’t see my weakness, and how debilitating it was. I find it interesting that you say the internet brings out the worst in people. I have almost the reverse impression. I look at the comments (on other blogs), and I see that people are always trying to make positive remarks… and often they are even exaggerated. Why do you think it brings out the worst? Thanks for your comment though. I think I got the message from quite a few of my friends on line.

      • That’s fantastic that you’ve had the opposite experience 😀 I’ve tried to make a place in other communities online in the past and it’s ultimately failed each time because people have chosen to be cruel to each other instead of kind. WordPress seems to be an exception; a place rather untouched by that attitude 🙂 I think it’s honestly because you can choose who is involved in your community a lot more than in other places, such as internet forums.

        • I’m glad you found WordPress, Jess. I don’t know much about internet forums, but I’ve seen enough of cruelty, not to want to be in that sort of environment. One of the most delightful things about life, is that we have choices. Even when life gets very difficult, there are still choices. I hope you meet a lot of easy going, tolerant, and very friendly people.

  26. we are advised to talk about grief and upset aren’t we, and yet sometimes we can’t find the words, I know they don’t come easily to me. So I understand your analogy about the cat just sitting near you and being quiet, sometimes that is what we need – contact without the emotion or judgement.
    And I’m sorry to hear about your recent difficulties, like all difficulties they can be overcome or accepted or dealt with can’t they?

    • What you say, Claire, is true. And I thank you very much for your comment. I think some people need others around them for support when they’re feeling bad… and others find that it doesn’t help them. On the subject of the difficulties… I think it is truly hard to understand certain situations until we’re in them ourselves. I’ve had the pleasure of traveling and working outside of my country, and getting to know other places. And I can tell you quite frankly, that I haven’t found a country, including the US, where freedom and civil rights are as outstanding as my own. And yet we witnessed the UN pass a resolution equating Zionism to racism. This resolution was cancelled later. But I think for a lot of us, including myself, there is a feeling that so far as the rest of the world is concerned, we can just go to hell.

  27. Dear Shimon, couldn’t be written/expressed beautifully more than this! I always enjoy, impress and love to read your touches… your humanly touches… “Cat In Me!” hit me… I can almost understand you dear Shimon. My childhood (in the city Istanbul during our summer vacations from the Anatolia) passed between beautiful people around my grandparrents… One of your people saved my life when I was a little girl… And there was always a wonderful stories, memories in my grandpa’s mind about Jewish people who were living in my country… So I never got any negative thinking… despite the politicians too! You are one of my best blogger friends in this world too, your writing is great. And also I learn what I don’t know… For example, “Maimonides”…what a beautiful thinking about visiting people… But I respect your own thoughts and also I can understand too. Thank you dear Shimon, Blessing and Happiness, love, nia

    • You are a dear friend, Nia. I thought of you first thing this morning, when I turned on the radio and heard the results of a recent trial that made the milk turn sour, and scorched the guts. I admire your ability to focus on the positive, and am happy that you got to see the brighter side of my people. This world of ours is so filled with contradictions, that sometimes, no matter how we try, we get it wrong. Thank you so much for your blessings and good wishes always. Your smile goes with me, even in the dark.

  28. Shimon – I’m sorry to read that you have experienced disappointments that have shone too bright a light on how misinformation, or lack of educating oneself on a subject before choosing to speak about it, can emphasize the many differences between cultures. It obviously affected you in a significant way, if it gave you reason to consider suspending blogging in English.

    When I first discovered your blog, it provided a tiny glimpse into a world that was unknown to me. It was a chance to make observations from afar, and a chance to absorb new bits of information. At first, it was a bit of curiosity that kept me coming back, but as I became more accustomed to the cadence of your voice, a deep respect towards you slowly blossomed, and rather than reading your blog as a source of time-passing or a form of blogging voyeurism, I became eager to find out what new information I might discover in every blog post. I was every bit as interested in what you would share from your unique perspective as an individual, as I was interested in the glimpses that were abundant pertaining to your heritage and history.

    In other words, I found myself interested in your personal opinions, independent of the fact that you happened to be a Jewish man living in Israel, although one cannot be separate from the other. I began to see you as an artist, a photographer, a writer, a blogger, a friend, a teacher, a student, a father, or a son. It was those parts of you that I found every bit as interesting as the fact that you are also a man who is Jewish living in Israel.

    That is the voice I would hate to have disappear. The person who is willing to embrace new discoveries, and share their observations along the way.

    I should also say that I have experienced my own version of disappointment in the world of blogging and internet friends. Someone I admired in the blogging community once said something, in a comment on another blog, that wounded me deeply. Their comment clearly pointed out their prejudice against “people like me” even though they had never done anything to express this prejudice on my own blog. From that point forward, I became more distrustful and cautious, and for a while, it silenced me. Eventually, however, I made the decision to remove them from my blogging sphere, and tried to find a way to continue my journey, aware that there will always be silent prejudices and opinions borne of lack of education or knowledge, and that it will be up to choose how much, or how little, I want to engage.

    I have never likened myself to a cat, but I like your analogy very much. I always considered my reclusiveness or isolationist tendencies to be dark and dangerous, but as I’ve grown older, have come to appreciate them for the safety and calm space they provide. Silence can be a healing experience when we are the one choosing silence, just so long as it is our choice, and not forced upon us by the prejudices of others. As with all things, I expect that you will find a balance between speaking out, and staying silent. It would be a great loss if your words were to disappear, but as someone who knows the value of silence, I respect your choice.

    • There was a time, N, when I used to spend long holidays hiking and camping in the mountains, and I had friends who wouldn’t join me in my adventures, saying, ‘what about the fierce, wild animals out there?’ And I was sure of myself then, and had met bears and tigers face to face, and told them there was nothing to be frightened of. But the longer you live, the more experience you accumulate; you realize that there aren’t always ready answers. You can make friends with a wild tiger, and then have a scorpion or a snake do you in. They’re so small you hardly notice them, but there’s no making friends with a scorpion. And there was a man we all new and loved around here, that was taking a tick off his dog, and it turned around and killed him… the dog survived.

      Your description of your interest in my blog is very similar to the way I found my teachers as a student, sometimes in person, and sometimes by way of books, and more than once I had the sublime pleasure of getting to know a teacher, first in his writing, and then personally. And this is also very much like the process by which I find bloggers that I wish to follow. Often I will follow a new person I meet, out of curiosity… out of a desire to learn if he or she has something to teach me… in the hope that he or she will introduce me to new subjects or ways of thinking that I haven’t learned yet. In real life, I have certain filters. If someone can’t stand smoking, we’re not going to be seated across a table, having long conversations or exchanging stories. But on the internet, the possibilities are less limited. I can be sitting in my living room, my cat by my side, looking out through the window at the forest park behind my house, drinking whiskey and smoking, and listening to jazz in the background, while conversing with a nun in a monastery at the other end of the world, who can’t stand the smell of cigarettes, and hates cats. And you know, we can even learn to love one another. I know I’m a man, I know I’m a Jew. I can define myself in all sorts of ways, but what matters in the interchange, is the sharing of thoughts directly, from one mind to the next, by way of words… transported at high speed from one computer to the next. But I’m thinking in Hebrew, and translating into a foreign tongue. If the communication works, I don’t have to remember my national identity. It doesn’t matter.

      But If I am accused of subjugating another people who live among my own… even if my people are accused of that… and the accusation is not aimed at me personally, I immediately start weighing the accusations, and thinking about the reality of the situation, and also remembering past accusations and where they lead… what they lead to. There was a time, not so long ago, when we were accused of mixing the blood of Christian children in the unleavened bread that we baked for the Passover feast. We have a long history of false accusations leveled against us.

      And my problem was that the folks who were condemning my people weren’t crazies that I had no business listening to. They were people who I respected when reading their blogs. People who looked at their own lives and environment in a way that I could identify with. The sort of people that I felt I was writing to. And I heard a voice saying, why are you writing to strangers anyway? Write to your own people, and be satisfied with that. But after reading the comments here, I am reminded that there are people here who do want to keep the contact between me.

      But what if some of them think I like to drink the blood of human babies, but I’m interesting anyway. Would I want to write to them? Would I want to introduce them to my mother or my children? Would I want to invite them into my virtual home? When I go to the hospital, I see Arabs in the waiting room alongside of Jews. I see Arab doctors and nurses working in partnership with the Jewish staff, saving lives and administering to human pain and suffering. But sometimes I seem some of those same faces on TV claiming that this is an apartheid state. I know it’s a lie. But there are a lot of people out in the world that accept this as the truth. Less than 10 years ago, we gave a part of our land to the Palestine community living in the Gaza strip. We had conquered the territory because we had been attacked over and over again from there. While they had been in control, they had totally wiped out all Jewish villages in the territory they captured. When we gave them that parcel of land, and gave them farms and modern farming equipment, and uprooted villagers who had returned to the villages that had been demolished by the Arab population, the Arabs who took possession of that land immediately started bombarding us with rockets. I could go on and on. But that’s not what I really enjoy writing about. I’m just trying to convey the problem to you.

      And yet, I am grateful to have met you, and wish to continue our communication. I’m torn between wanting to stay in my own neighborhood, and wanting to continue to enjoy the possibility of transcending borders and enjoying the company of beautiful human beings I have met all over the world. Thank you so much for your comment.

      • Dear Shimon,

        I would suggest you place some of your replies here on this post as new posts — so that more reader can read about your honest opinions and your many wonderfully thoughtful views, more directly. I value so much you’ve spent so much time replying all these comments. They came through my emails and I was marvelled and humbled by the exchanges of thoughts. Shimon, you’re a remarkable man, and you’ve educated many of us and we’ve all sit round you and find the smell of nicotine around you is the sweetest of all.

        With this particular one, I imagine how you connect with the world with a bit of indulgence: cat, smoking, whiskey, jazz…..but, nicotine and whiskey together, are you sure? One is a stimulant and whiskey is a depressant, and, do you really mix them? Do you? I’m just curious of their opposite effects.

        God bless you, Shimon. You’re so well loved.

        • That is a very sweet thought, Janet. And I appreciate your saying it. But the fact is, that what I have to say about international relations, and the many attacks we have faced, and the situation we find ourselves in, regarding other peoples of the world… even what I have to say about the ‘Palestinian problems’ are things that I prefer to direct to my own people. I don’t believe that people in other countries have the patience or the desire to study the issue. And I believe the problem is ours. Of course, even in my own country, I am part of a minority. And even if I’m regarded with affection, I doubt that my perspective will ever become the majority view. Thank you so much for your comments.

  29. Thank you for your post, Shimon. I am learning so much from reading your blog and hope that I grow in understanding as I continue. You are a gift to me. What you write about grief, I’ve discovered to be true. It is good to know that the human heart spans across nations, cultures and religions…and that we are not alone in our suffering OR our celebration.

    • Thank you very much for your kind words, Kathleen. I appreciate your comment, and hope that you will continue to strengthen with the passing of time. I’m sure that after a while you’ll be able to enjoy the memories of your Mom without the ache that now seems to accompany thoughts about her. With best wishes…

  30. I am glad to see you seem to be feeling better.
    I am glad you will not stop blogging and hope you can enjoy summer once more.

  31. Shimon,
    I came across your blog posts by happenstance really; but was so pleased with your rather avuncular style that I began looking forward to your next missive.
    There is not much I can add to the above comments other than that I find the internet can be full of ignorance, bitterness and outright hostility. Usually perpetrated by those whom I think feel divorced from reality somehow by the nature of the beast.
    Blogs like yours are stepping stones in a large muddy pool and if not for them, how would one cross?

    שָׁלוֹם
    David.

    • You’re right, David. The internet is full of everything. From true artists and teachers to people having a good cry… and a few evil scoundrels as well. But what made me reconsider my position re blogging, was the fact that these individuals that condemned my people were people I respected. When you hear something that you know isn’t true or right from people you respect, it’s a problem finding the right way to relate to that. If I meet a colleague in the park, and I hear him say something that is out and out revolting, how should I react to that. I am still considering this dilemma. But I no longer have the feeling that I should leave the arena after having received very encouraging comments. Thank you very much, David.

  32. Your writings educate us, so please continue. So many times people say things against another culture, or religion, because of ignorance. You have received a tremendous response here, a sure sign of the enjoyment we all share in your words.

    • Thank you, Angeline. I do appreciate the comments I have received to this post, and it’s given me an opportunity to discuss my feelings about the subject. I’ve also realize that there is no reason to stop blogging as long as there are people who truly enjoy the interaction and discussions on my blog. I still haven’ worked out completely, how I should relate to those attacks on my country. Thanks.

  33. I hope you will continue writing, Shimon. I would miss you very much if you stopped blogging in English as I always enjoy hearing what you have to say, and I’m afraid I am too old to learn Hebrew now. 🙂

    Like you and Nechama, I need time and space to be alone to think and sort out things. It seems that many people with that kind of temperament are drawn to blogging.

    • You would continue to see me in any case, yearstricken. As I would continue to read your blog. But after receiving such positive responses, I believe that the right thing is to continue on my path. I mentioned to you once, after being ‘freshly pressed’, that the experience left me with mixed feelings. At the time, it seemed like they picked the wrong article… and that there were more people visiting (for a few minutes) than the house could hold. I suppose now, that my vision of blogging might have been too romantic, and my recent disappointments were the result of high expectations… of a brave new world in which we are all friends, having a picnic on a meadow green.

  34. If retreating works for you, then retreat. Many people do at certain emotionally difficult times. Whatever the psychological reasons may be for retreating into ones self, if it works, that’s fine. From what you say Shimon, you have more than one way of dealing with issues, it is healthy. You recognise what you do and in doing so, you handle it. I too sometimes want to be in a quiet corner communing (or not) with myself. We can choose to talk, we can choose to work things out. Culturally it can be difficult to do what works, even here in Scotland.

    Cats are independent but they know when is best to communicate with people and when to retire. There’s a lot of benefit in understanding cat behaviour.

    Please, do not stop blogging…maybe take a break, but come back!

    🙂

    • Thank you very much, Menhir. I’ve already realized that what I felt was the exposure to the outside world, and has nothing to do with my writing. It was probably just a moment’s taste of what Jews living in the diaspora have to face daily. And enchanted by a romantic notion of blogs and blogging, I felt as I’d been slapped in the face. As a young man, checking out the world, I had no expectations. But now… I’ve gotten old.

      • I guess we all live in one bubble or another. Bubbles and pin pricks do not run alongside one another. At certain times in our lives, we handle the flack better than at others.

        As you say Shimon, it is not your writing that is at issue, it is the various other difficult elements in the worlds, both real and cyber (created by fickle man) that has been exposed.

        Shalom my friend.

  35. Another lovely, thought-provoking post Shimon. I think I’m going to start telling people I’m half English and half dog… because I love my food and love attention – lol! I’m sorry about your recent disappointments, some people can be very closed off to other cultures and beliefs. I, for one, love reading your posts. You are my little window into another world; a country and a culture I can only hope I get to visit some day – and for that I’m very thankful. xx

  36. I think your words and their invitation to your kitchen table is what first drew me to you, Shimon, made me want to come back and be in your company again. Our world views are very different, but I am comforted by your stories and the wisdom that comes from your years. I’ve said it before, but thank you, again, for being here and sharing as you do.

    • You know, Scott, you have mentioned that before, that our world views are different. And each time you mention it, I start wondering about what it is in particular that stands out as a difference between us in your eyes. But in general, I have to say that most people see things a bit differently. Even among my closest friends, we have differences of opinion, and within the family too. Now and then, there are subjects, or occasions that bring out that which is common in the minds of most men and women, but even on so-called sacred subjects there are often differences of opinion. I thank you for your company and friendship, and appreciate having met you; always appreciate your comments.

  37. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words

    I empathize with your thoughts….
    Personally I hope you stay around in English….for I flunked two years of Spanish
    ad the teacher finally told my mom, I need to no longer try, it was waste of time…funny because my first few years I spoke German from my parents being stationed there…
    I was always the outcast..military brat..a nomad was one of the nicer names
    I was called …
    it made me look at people different, I always sat with the new kids, for I went to 27 schools before I graduated high school..I knew what it felt like to be sitting alone at a table…
    I learned to appreciate my different-ness I could hear things and see what others couldn’t…most were afraid of me..
    fear makes people strike out …
    I don;t know your hurt…but I know the energy….I was/am married into a Moslem family and being from a small town background mentality of Southern Methodist..my uncle still says I have no marriage..I guess in his God’s eyes I don’t….his problem…
    my father-in-law was a rebel within his faith, he believed all faiths had a place here on earth as I have always believed…including the Jewish people in Isreal…he said if they had heart to make an oasis out of a desert then surely God is smiling…I was not well accepted when I asked my preacher at 6-7yrs young where I came from, and as he said Adam and Eve, I and the love of my parents (which I knew was wrong since my father tried to kill me every day my mother was pregnant with me and continued into life itself) I wanted to know if God made man in the image of Himself, where did girls come from…to shorten this rambling story
    I wanted to know where Mrs.God was since I was a girl and God was a man?
    whew, small town Methodist beliefs had me a child of satan from that moment on…which was okay I believe in my own truth
    my mother-in-law would tell people I was an infidel but so much better than being a Texan…for she thought women from Texas were too independent and much to forward in their thinking…
    oh well..I thrive in my difference as in all difference there is a beauty that is meant to be here…
    okay…to end this rambling…I hope you will continue, I have no chance of translating your language even in goggle(computer challenged)
    Have a wonderful day…
    Take Care…You Matter…
    )0(
    maryrose

    • Well, Maryrose, this comment of yours is quite a surprise for me. And you have raised so many interesting issues, that I’m truly grateful, though there are areas that I just don’t know enough about. For instance, though I’m very familiar with Moslem ideas and principles, as well as their spiritual aspirations, I know next to nothing about the Methodists, and so I couldn’t even guess why a religious Methodist would consider you a child of Satan. After the interchanges here, I will continue to write in English, and I am flattered that you would ask me to continue. I thank you very much for telling me a bit about yourself. I was very curious when I first met you, and regretted that I didn’t learn more about you personally from your blog, though I was impressed by your beautiful photography.

      The Moslem religion has great respect for other religions, and they accept the saints and prophets of Judaism and Christianity as their own. To this day, even though they were poorly treated by the Christians, they consider the Christian saints and heroes as holy. However, they revile the disbeliever or all peoples. And as a rule, they have little patience for any faith that is not monotheistic. Of course, religious ideals and common practice are two separate studies. For instance, female genital mutilation (the cutting off of the clitoris) is not considered a religious necessity, yet 97% of Arab women in Egypt, our close neighbor, have suffered this mutilation. And I’m sure you don’t need me to point out that even in the west there is a great gap between religious ideals and day to day practices.

      This question that you raise, of man being created in the image of god, is one that troubled me as a lad as well. I didn’t worry about the sexual nature of god, because in Hebrew, both men and women are referred to generically as man (mankind), and we see both men and women as being the two parts of man as a living creature. But even so, I couldn’t imagine anything about man that was godlike. As I continuously wondered about this riddle, I eventually came to the conclusion, that the likeness is based on that feature that we have that separates us from most living creatures. For most living creatures have a very strong instinct which directs their behavior. And we have this thing we call choice… free will (limited, but still surprising when compared to other living creatures). Sometimes a man will even choose to do things that will result in his own demise or suffering. And so my conclusion was that this similarity to god was based on our own ability to choose our individual path. Thank you very much for your comment, and for your visits here.

  38. Dear Shimon,
    I think understanding another culture and relating to that culture may be two different things based on my own small experience. It seems to me that the understanding takes intellects and relating to that culture, religion, or people may take more empathy and sensitivity in addition to understanding. I know when I get hurt, often is because person are not relate to my thinking and feeling, and they don’t even try.
    Blogging is so wonderful enabling us to bridge the differences, and it could help some people to relate to us. So I do hope you will continue to share your wisdom and insights.
    I’m not sure my thoughts on this are on the right track. If not, please let me know. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and insights.
    I’ll be back to read the responses later.

    • It seems to me, Amy, that the better we get to know people of another culture, the easier it is to empathize with them. And perhaps, because of that, blogging does build bridges to a better understanding and greater empathy. But it is only natural for people to worry first about their own welfare. I think that is one of the reasons that there were such powerful demonstrations against globalization in the recent past. People worried about losing their own jobs, and this made it very hard for people to empathize with poorer people, half way across the world, who were willing to work for any wage, just so that could buy a loaf of bread or a bowl of rice for their families. After thinking about it, and reading the replies I got on this post, I’ve decided to keep on blogging. I think it’s very worth while reading the discussion this time. Thank you very much for your comment, and for taking part in the building of bridges.

  39. Trying to understand all this Shimon, has left me heartbroken on your behalf…. I get it now, and what the hell to say, it leaves me wanting to go off and sob somewhere. I’m no great intellectual, or highly educated, or profound thinker, and my words are very lightweight, but I’ve followed the comments and replies, just out of fear of losing you, glad to hear I won’t now. But, I can identify with your pain and what you post in terms of politics…I don’t even go there, even though I’d like too but I get to this age and think….why bother, it will only end up in some long blog fight, and I don’t have the patience for that.. Even on my blog I post about what I love, but can’t talk about the suffering and cruelty I see at the rescue, people don’t want to be depressed, and I get that so keep things light.

    I’m commenting here after a night out, I’ve drunk lots of beer and wine, and puffed my stupid fake fags….if only I could type, have a drink and SMOKE too!!! What pleasure that would be! xxxx

    • Snowbird – You’ve pointed out quite rightly that we all have that fear of losing Shimon, but luckily we won’t now.

      Shimon, you’re wonderful in ‘hanging out’ with us, sharing your quirky sense of humour and educating with us at the same time, and we are the lucky ones. It’s such a blessing and an honour. Snowbird needs not worry about us being ‘lightweight’ or not a profound thinker, as you are such a good teacher that we make us feel comfortable and welcoming, while enlightening us. I’m sure you’ll share your Jack Daniel’s with us if we were with you.

      Your words are like sparkling precious stones. I do come back here often to see what the cats are up to, digest your old stories, or sometimes just to feel the sentiments, to walk your paths, to try to see the world from your eyes.

      • I appreciate your sentiments, dear Janet. As you understand so well, in friendship, we need not look for special characteristics. It is more than enough to discover all the beauty and the wonder of another human being, and enjoy their company, their warmth, and their wit. The closer we get to our friends, the more we appreciate them. I am grateful for the friends I’ve found on the net. I feel I’ve been enriched. And it’s a great pleasure to get together with my friends in blogland.

    • Your words, my dear friend, be they light or heavy, always come from your heart, and it is always delightful for me to find a comment from you or to exchange thoughts with you. And I am sorry if I’ve saddened you, even for a moment. That was not my intention. But I do believe that your comparison describes exactly what I have been feeling in the last couple weeks. You work with abused animals, and keep on working with them, even though at times it seems hopeless. You ache at the sight of needless cruelty, and yet know that life must go on, despite being witness to the injustice and the despicable behavior of people who just don’t understand the pain and sorrow they have caused. That is what I feel. Except that in my case, I am one of those who have been abused and mistreated since my very first memories as a child. And my brothers and sisters would prefer I amuse them with my stories, and would rather not be portrayed as victims in the eyes of strangers. xxx

  40. Please don’t stop posting in English, Shimon. I’m very selfish I know, but I would really miss reading your posts. There’s nothing wrong with being half-cat. Cats are cool. As your photographs attest.

    • Yes Richard, I’ve come to the conclusion that my reluctance to keep blogging was taking things out of proportion. As for cats… very cool. But they don’t seem to be much interested in art or blogging. They seem to live simpler lives than our own… Thanks for your comment.

  41. Shimon I really enjoy reading your blog. Your thoughts and words flow freely and reveal a compassionate man. When I view your photos I have a great desire to be in such a location of community. We live in a land where your neighbor can live 50 feet away and you never know their names. Our technology has change our pathways of communication. We have chosen to communicate through technology rather than traditional methods of personal communication. We would rather Facebook than talk face to face. We no longer talk on phones, we text. The loss of personal interaction has changed families as well as communities. We no longer need respect when dealing with others using our technology. We can slam people on blogs or harass others without directly dealing with the person. It is our world today. Jerusalem is a city we want to visit someday. It is rich in culture and in its history is our future. Take care my friend. John

    • Thank you very much for your kind words, John. It seems to me that we are really at a great turning point in history, and are seeing gigantic changes, but have yet to realize where it’ll go and what shape it’ll eventually take. Looking back, I remember reading science fiction in the 50s, and it seems like some of those writers were really prophets of the changes we are seeing now, even though they themselves didn’t realize just how it would all unfold. I believe though, that eventually we’ll realize that the interchange between human beings, and respect, and love, are more precious than all the advantages of technology… and that gathering data is only one of the many steps to wisdom. I do hope that you will visit Jerusalem one day, and that I’ll still be here and be your guide for a day. Thanks again for your comment.

  42. Thank you for everything

  43. Gentle Shimon,
    There is so much here to think about. This is what I love about your blog, your words, the glimpses of your life.

    I suppose it is difficult to comprehend the enormous complexities of places and experiences that one hasn’t lived through but there are those of us who want to try, those who are open to learning and who wish to connect.
    I think these bits and pieces that we share collectively build understanding. It is a slow build in many ways.

    I find your entries to be beautifully worthwhile and enriching. Thank you.
    (I think perhaps, that there is no word more immense than that small word ‘respect’)
    x Karen

    • Thank you very much for your comment, Karen. It’s true, that we learn a lot more about this world, when we give due respect to all living creatures, and even to still life. And the closer they are to us… our fellow human beings, for instance… the more important. There is a temptation, sometimes, to dismiss a new situation or a new person by attaching him to a group or stereotype, to make things easier. But it doesn’t really make things easier. It just leads us to unknowing. Thanks for your sweet words.

  44. Shimon Z’evi! You didn’t tell me that I am missing your posts! Oh dear, I stopped getting email notices because my inbox could no longer handle them. Now, I am not receiving notices in my Reader either and do not know how to remedy that. I regret that you had to experience such a disappointment. Conflicts of ideas are not the sole purview of cross cultural communication. Believe me. I am tremendously at odds with the community in which I live. People whom I always liked and respected came to shock me when they began to voice opinions on Facebook. I knew that I was not accepted. I still am not, but you know, it is what it is. And it has nothing to do with who I am. Your unfortunate experience has nothing to do with who you are either. I know it is shocking and painful, but what can one do? Crawl under the porch and lick your wounds and carry on … in English, please.

    I am just about half-cat myself.

    • First of all, I always enjoy your comments, George, and am happy when my images or words add a little something to your day. But on the other hand, I never know why, when someone stops coming by or doesn’t comment. It could be that he’s got too much pressure in his life, or it could be that life has gotten too beautiful to spend much time face to face with the computer. And I can well imagine that some of my readers like some subjects I discuss, and don’t like others… Nice to hear that you are from the cat family too. And yes, after all of these fine comments, I’ve decided to go on in English… though the incidents still disturb me.

    • Dear George,

      Reader on WordPress does not send Shimon’s posts to me either — it’s been a problem for a long time and I have stopped worrying about it. I think Shimon is just getting too popular. I prefer checking on Shimon everyday myself anyway by entering his URL directly. If there isn’t a new post, there’ll be fascinating comments from readers. Shimon has the charisma to attract so many wonderful people with beautiful feedback and I love the flow of discussions here in Shimon’s blog. I learn from the conversations and I enjoy watching how Shimon handles all sorts of questions, and how he comforts many of us. Many of us come here to hear a good story, to view the world from his half-man-half-cat perspectives, but we also feel comforted, healed and nurtured.

      It’s such a wonderful place. I thank God for Shimon.

      • Thank you very much for your sweet comment regarding my blog, Janet. In general, there are two things you can do if you stop getting notifications of posts. You can post the http of the blog you want into a rectangle at the top of the reader after pressing the edit button, or you can subscribe anew, even though you already did in the past. I’ve had subscriptions that disappeared after a while on wordpress. But I was usually able to resubscribe. Sometimes we have to struggle with the ghost in the machine.

  45. Can I say that I’m amazed at all the love you receive here? No, I cannot!

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