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Sunday, May 07, 2006


Ariel was very busy building his new house.

On Sunday, he drew the blueprints.
On Monday, he set the foundation.
On Tuesday, he laid the bricks.
On Wednesday, he added doors and a roof.
On Thursday, he painted the walls.
On Friday, he installed furniture.

And he was tired. But the house did not yet exist for its own sake. He needed to live in it for a day. He wanted to sit back in his living room, sip some lemonade, and admire his work.

On Saturday, he was about to do just that when a man wearing black appeared.

"A lawbreaker!", cried he, "O, how it pains me to see such disregard for my master's wishes!"
Ariel did not understand.
"I serve the owner of this land.", the strange man explained. "Do you see that sign?" (and he pointed to a small sign near their feet which Ariel had never seen before.)

And this is what the sign said:
Thou shalt not enter thy house
nor sip lemonade on the seventh day.

It was clear enough. There were no loopholes to be found, no exceptions to be made. But Ariel did not understand. "Why?", asked he.
"Once upon a time, you built a house. Though that building no longer stands, it must still be taken into account." Ariel did not understand.
"When you built that house, you entered it. This was a necessary part of the building process, yes?" Ariel supposed so.
"And when you built that house, it so happened to be a hot day. You refreshed yourself with a glass of lemonade, did you not?" Ariel supposed so.
"Well, there you have it, then."

Ariel did not understand. It did not seem like he had much of anything anymore. His remaining books were inside. His comfortable furniture was inside. His achievements were inside. But there was no use arguing- the master of the land had spoken. What was he to do today?, he inquired.
The man in black smiled reassuringly. "The master of this land allows us many pleasures on the seventh day. If you would like, I will stay here and permit you to talk to me." Ariel could accept this no longer. "Why in the name of Nonazangian nonoccurence would I want to talk to you?", he yelled. "I want my books! I want my rooms! I want my furniture! I want my glass of lemonade!"

The man looked down at the unenlightened soul before him with sympathy. He opened his mouth to helpfully suggest scrubbing the master's feet, but Ariel was already walking away uffishly.

Ariel walked on. He passed rocks. And then he passed more rocks. Each rock was grayer than the next. Finally, he passed some rocks. There was nothing to see, nothing to do.

He walked all the way to the edge of the land, where the rock gave way to sea. (He dared not go further, for he could not swim.) Many men were standing by the edge, all wearing black. They were yelling at a man in a nearby boat.
A coalition for the public's right to rest and relaxation emerged Wednesday, as MKs from across the political spectrum announced their intention to pass a bill making Shabbat a legal day of leisure. The legislative initiative presented to the Knesset, however, lacks the support of religious parties.

The bill, called the Culture and Recreation Day Law, would crack down on commercial activity on Shabbat while permitting more cultural and recreational activities and a limited schedule of public transportation The bill was proposed by MKs Natan Sharansky (Likud), Shelly Yacimovich (Labor), Michael Eitan (Likud), Michael Melchior (Labor), Arye Eldad (NU-NRP), and Dov Kheinin (Hadash).

"More and more people are forced to work seven days a week, 365 days a year," said Sharansky. "We want to strike a unifying compromise between secular and religious that would allow Shabbat to retain its special character as a day of rest. At the same time, we want to allow the non-religious limited access to transportation and places of entertainment."

A Shas spokesman said his party was likely to oppose the initiative, as it would encourage more desecration of Shabbat.

United Torah Judaism MK Meir Porush also attacked the initiative. "Shabbat is a holy day with obligations and commandments," he said, "not just a day with cultural, socioeconomic and national-historical meaning... Shabbat is God's everlasting covenant with the Jewish people. The bill distorts both the content and the soul of the Jewish day of rest."
It was a houseboat which he had built with his own two hands, and he was living in it. He was sitting back comfortably, reading a book and sipping lemonade. Now this, Ariel thought, was how a Saturday ought to be spent. The boater's girlfriend walked into view; he had taken her along to show off the boat which had been so frustrating to build. Why were these people shouting?, Ariel wondered. He is not in our territory, and he understands what homes are made for. Should we not let him be? Ariel headed back to the direction of his house.

Now, it was still not even noon, and Ariel was beginning to worry that he'd be condemned to walk through rocks for the rest of the day. But then he saw an old man sitting outside his house making a pile of rocks. The man had a long, white beard, and when I say "long" I mean that it was twice as long as his height. Ariel was curious. "There is a secret to passing the time.", the old man whispered.
On Shabbat, I now do jigsaw puzzles. They keep me busy.
"I will share it with you, and perhaps you will bring it to good use. See, you take a rock like so-", and as he said this he picked up a rock as gray as any other, "and then (and this is the crucial part) you put it in a pile while focusing your entire mind on its shape. It's the strangest thing, but after just a few rocks, you will get so involved in this activity that it will sustain you for the rest of the day!"

Ariel walked back to his house and started making a pile of rocks. It wasn't very entertaining, but it kept him so busy that the end of the day actually came. By this time he had a very large pile. He looked at his work, expecting to be proud of his accomplishment. Curiously, he wasn't. He felt... empty.




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