However, as always I don’t want to go into Shabbat without some good news, so here are a couple of items to lighten our spirit.
In the south of Israel, instead of the Red Alert siren annoucning incomign rockets from Gaza, the annual “Red South” – Darom Adom – flower festival is taking place, celebrating the blooming of thousands of wild red poppies and anemones all over the region (via Reality):
The incendiary kite launched from Gaza touched down in the Gvaram conservation area on November 2, 2018, launching a fire that raced across the rolling hills and quickly turned everything black. Walking across the blackened landscape of the 12,000 dunam (3,200 acres) of forests that burned in the area around the Gaza border, charred grasses crunched underfoot and the smell of smoke lingered in the air. Fires sparked by flaming balloons and kites launched from Gaza also burned 4,000 dunam (988 acres) of farmland.
Just three months later, the charred black that encompassed most of the Gvaram conservation area has been erased by an explosion of green and red. Winter grasses blanket the burned ground and the traditional red anemones, or kalaniyot, have burst forth across the fields and forests with a vigor not seen in the past decade.
“It’s not actually that there are more kalaniyot this year, even though it feels like it,” explained Kobi Sufer, the regional director of the southern coastal area for the Nature and Parks Authority, as the kalaniyot dotted the field behind him. “In past years, all of the undergrowth was so high that you couldn’t always see them.”
But after incendiary kites from Gaza burned some 16,000 dunams (4,000 acres) over six months, the kalaniyot bloomed this year without competition from other plants, creating a veritable carpet of red flowers, dancing in the wind.
The contrast between the blackened fields of the summer and fall and the lush green and red is difficult to comprehend, even for the people who live here. “Someone comes here today looks around and says, no way this place burned,” said Sufer. In some places, the red flowers grow so thickly, it feels like the poppy field from the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy falls asleep.
The annual Darom Adom (Scarlet South) Festival kicked off on January 31, with five weekends of events during February and March featuring one of the most dramatic blossoming of kalaniyot in the past decade.
The festival, which attracted more than 60,000 visitors for the opening weekend, celebrates the kalaniyot that bloom every year in February, providing a riot of red under blue skies. The festival features dozens of free workshops, tours, concerts and children’s activities at a variety of spots across the Gaza periphery.
Isn’t amazing that the fires started by our enemies to destroy us and our land have actually given forth more beautiful flowers than ever before? We give thanks to Hashem for His bountiful nature, and send our warmest wishes to the residents of the south who surely deserve a successful and joyous flower festival.
And here is Israeli commentator and inspirational speaker Sivan Rahav Meir on this week’s Torah portion, Terumah:
Major Ohr Sahar, company commander in the IDF, sent me the following idea, which he wrote to his soldiers about this week’s Portion, Teruma:
“The Portion begins with generosity: ‘Speak unto the children of Israel, that they take for Me an offering; of every man whose heart maketh him willing, ye shall take My offering’. The whole Nation volunteers to participate and take part in the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), to give some of their possessions in favor of its construction. But in the book titled ‘Orchot Tzadikim’ (a book from 15th century Germany about Jewish ethics) it is written that there are three types of generosity:
The first: generosity with one’s money.
The second: generosity with one’s body.
The third: generosity with one’s wisdom.
That is, contrary to what we are used to thinking, Teruma (donation, contribution) is not just with money. Generosity of the body can be expressed with visiting the sick, listening to those who need attention, consoling mourners and also truly sharing in another’s joy. In this day and age in which people constantly talk about the ‘generation of screens’, generosity of the body is important, even just looking deeply into another’s eyes. Our wisdom can be shared generously too. We can study with others and give them advice. The main point here is that you do not have to be rich, having a lot of money, in order to donate and contribute of yourself. If we properly look around us, we will find countless opportunities to be generous.”
This is a wonderful message to take with us into Shabbat.
May the coming week bring us no more sorrow, only joy and good health.
Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom, a quiet and peaceful Shabbat.