Smoke

14 Av 5776, Hanoch Ne’eman, Jerusalem

Today as I came out of shul in the morning around 9 am, I was greeted by clouds of smoke. Across from the dome shaped sephardi shul I davened at near the railway park, there is a plant nursery owned by a local lovable lunatic named Reuveni. He has been sitting on the large property for decades, his relative fell defending the city there in 1948. He runs a not so professional and probably not too profitable nursery there. That was the origin of the smoke, as it has been on other occasions.

As I waited to cross the light to go to the bakery to buy some rolls, I see through the hedge and fence that a young man with black kippa and long payot is stoking the fire, in Dante-esque style, with a pitchfork. He is throwing dry grass and dirt on the fire, while Reuveni is watching over. I decide to go in and register my disapproval.

Reuveni is probably about 70 years old. His white hair is styled something between Einstein and Jacques Cousteau.

Hello, how are you?! he greets me with enthusiasm. Are you still working in gardening? Fine thank you, a little I tell him. Listen, I say, why are you burning this and making all this smoke? It is going all over the neighborhood? I can help you throw this stuff in the trash bins.

We step back a few feet as black ash falls on both our clothing.

I’ll tell you, he says, smoke is healthy. It kills microbes.

Yeah, I’m thinking, and if you get enough of it you won’t need to worry about microbes.

“It clears the air,” he says.

Funny, I would just like to have some un-smoke-cleaned air, thank you.

How lucky our neighborhood is to have this service provided to us, and for free!

I walk to the bakery with all my clothes reeking like smoke.

 

 

 

 

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