Monday, August 11, 2008

"Good Deal's" and Tishah B'Av

Before I start with this post, I just got an email inviting me to (I believe the first) Nefesh B’ Nefesh International Jewish Bloggers Convention. That should be fun, next Wednesday at the NBN offices in Jerusalem.
So onto today’s post, I’m going to tell two stories that happened to me this past week, and only two, because I’ve discovered something, it seems all of the people I’ve been running into are either getting the emails or are reading the blog and I have nothing to talk to them about because they’ve already heard my stories!
So on Thursday I made my first (and probably last) big purchase for quite a while, the bike.
Sometime after Pesach I started to get really into mountain biking. So I’d drag my 10 year old, $150 bike that I got from BJ’s out and take some trails in the Baltimore area.
I was about to make Aliyah so I wasn’t about to buy anything heavy duty, if the bike gave out then I’d have to suffer for a few week’s.
It turned out the bike held up very well, but now that I was in Israel it was time to get a new bike.
So during my first two week’s walking around Yerushalayim, I’d stop at every bike shop I saw look at the different bikes they had, talk to the owners, and just did some research.
I ended up finding a bike in a small shop on Agripas, owned and manned by a jolly Russian guy, who when I first expressed interest at buying at his store, offered me a “good deal.”
I’ve learned to be very weary when I hear this phrase, a phrase that translates into “rich and dumb American who can be taken advantage of.”
Case in point, I had a friend who was in the Machane Yuhuda Shuk and was looking for bed sheets. The shop owner told him the sheet’s he was looking at were 180NIS. “But,” he said, “Because you just make Aliyah I offer good deal, only 130NIS.”
The following week my friend was in a shop on Yaffo and saw the same exact sheets for 30NIS.
So I was wary when the bike shop owner offered me a “good deal.” But to surprise when I did the math myself he had given me quite a fair price. He then knocked 150NIS off the final bill. I think I found my bike shop.
I rode out of there quite happy with my purchase and biked down to the Old City to go to the Kotel (what better way to celebrate a new purchase). Biking in Jerusalem is quite a liberating feeling, as bikes are the only things that are allowed on both the streets and the sidewalks. I got to the Kotel in about 10 minutes, as they were doing some construction on Yaffo for the new light rail system.
Now for story #2.
I spent Tishah B’Av on Rabbi Zev Leff’s Moshav Matityahu. I have a friend who went to yeshiva there and is now married and lives there with his wife. For two year in Yeshiva he’d been trying to get me to come out there, and somehow I never made it, so when I got back to Israel, I wanted to make sure that visited him.
This also was my first Tishah B’Av in Israel, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. I think one of the most moving things that happened was during Eicha on Motzei Shabbat, there were people in the room who were wailing with grief over the lose of the Temple. I don’t remember every seeing that before, people who seemed to really feel a physical pain. It was quite a moving experience.

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