It was just a few days after Tisha B’Av of this year when this story took place. Everyone I had met on the day had exchanged wishes with me for an easy fast, as well as a meaningful one. In truth, I had found this fast a relatively easy one as I, b”H, usually did, but also found it to be a most meaningful one. I believe this was the first Tisha B’Av in my life where I was actually able to feel the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash as a personal loss.
I had spent part of the afternoon watching news clips of people who braved the heat of the day, as well as the inherent danger, to go up to the Har Habayit. I had watched how they were surrounded by so many angry, hateful faces. I also read about a group of Ethiopians who had come to live here in their homeland around the same time my family and I made aliyah. They had been overwhelmed with sorrow at the news that had never reached them while living in galut, that the Beit HaMikdash had been destroyed. It made me realize that we indeed have experienced a loss we have not really overcome yet.
Now, still on a sort of high after the fast, I found myself meeting my daughter and her baby in the center of town in Yerushalayim. We boarded the bus back to my house together, yet separately. Meira, my daughter, entered the bus through the middle doors, and found the designated spot for those with a wheelchair, or in this case, a baby carriage.
I boarded from the front, and slowly made my way toward my daughter. Suddenly, no one could advance any further, though we could see the back of the bus was quite empty. Something or someone was blocking the way, and the bus driver started to get impatient. Nothing seemed to help, and we were all helplessly stuck.
Suddenly, a woman started to shove her way through the crowd. She nearly knocked me down in her anger at those she perceived were blocking her way. She started talking loudly, railing against the young mothers, like my daughter. They were as stuck as she, yet she blamed them. Finally, someone with a cool head intervened and straightened out matters by moving passengers around with thought, like in a game of chess. The way was now clear.
I reached my daughter, who then directed me to an empty seat further along the bus. I settled down, when I suddenly sensed someone standing in the aisle near me. It was the impatient, angry woman who had aggressively pushed people out of her way. To my chagrin, she sat down beside me. She continued with her tirade,
“What gives these young women to right to clog up our buses with all their children?”
I tried to ignore her, hoping she would calm down now that she had a seat. That did not happen. I turned to her and calmly said that she should try to see the situation from the other side. I pointed to my daughter, and said how she, too, was inconvenienced and uncomfortable on the bus. I said that she and the other mothers had paid their fares, and were entitled to be on the bus. Perhaps, I added, the fault lies with the fact that there are too few buses, and they arrive in intervals which are too far apart. My seat-mate continued ranting as if my words were never spoken.
In frustration, I turned away from her, and sought out a friendly face. To my delight, my eyes happened upon a lovely young couple whom I had met through my daughter. While studying in university, she had found the time to work for a very special organization which helped young adults who had special needs. Meira was assigned a newly married couple who needed guidance as they began to set up a home of their own. Meira helped them with food shopping, cooking, hanging curtains, learning to communicate as a couple, and many other things. My daughter developed a strong bond with the couple she helped. She had invited them to our house as well, so we all got to know each other.