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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Inspiriation on the Number 2

You've probably heard that one about the rabbi and the Egged bus driver who both die and go up to heaven. The Egged driver is rewarded with a posh mansion complete with three car garage and swimming pool while the rabbi is placed in a dilapidated shack. Figuring there must have been some sort of mix-up the rabbi consults the Heaven Housing Authority. They inform him that there was indeed no mix-up explaining, "When you spoke in shul everybody fell asleep... when he drove the bus everybody cried out in intense prayer!"

Regardless of our, or at least my own, ideas about what to expect on the average Egged ride, recently I've had several trips on the #2 line that have been quite surprising if not touching. The number two goes between Har Nof and the Kotel, hitting up many other Charedi areas in between. The other night I got on the one that leaves the kotel at 1 AM and to say it was crowded would be an understatement. As I squeezed on in between waves of bearded chassidim I expected the worse. I knew I would be in for about 45 minutes of getting shoved around, people rudely staring at each other and a highly probable chance of riding next to one or more people who would be... how to say this politely... "deodorant-ly challenged." The first blessing was there were no B.O. problems, thank G-d. Secondly everyone politely shuffled in and tried to make space for all who wanted to get on. But the truly amazing thing was, though the bus was packed to the gills, there was one lone empty seat available. The man in the seat next to it kept inviting somebody, anybody, to come occupy it. Yet there were no takers. All those within access to the seat turned down the opportunity to sit and sacrificed their own comfort so their fellow Jew could relax instead. The seat remained empty until about a third of the way into the trip when quite a few other seats became available as well and it was no longer the only one available. Upon returning to yeshiva and discussing the occurrence with my roommate though, we both realized that somebody may have quite possibly been in the seat the whole time- Eliyahu HaNavi.

Another beautiful moment happened tonight after shabbos had just gotten out. As I got on the number two and started riding home, a boy probably in his late teens, and who seemed to suffer from some sort of mental disability, suddenly stood up on his seat and started speaking to everyone on the bus. My conversational hebrew still isn't so incredible so I can't be sure what he was saying, but it sounded to me like he was quoting a passuk of Torah or something of the like. Though he stuttered a bit that didn't interfere with his beaming smile as he tried to get out his thought. If this happened on any bus I've ever ridden on in America I'm sure this would evoke mocking laughter and scowls. Yet the passengers of the number two were respectably silent, pausing their conversations to give him the floor and seemed to be waiting for a new chiddush to learn. Afterward a father of three sitting next to him gently motioned to help him sit back down. So often I see such people treated negatively, yet everyone on the bus was treating him like they would any other normal person even though his behavior was quite out of the ordinary.

If the tourist ministry is looking for any ideas for a new campaign, I suggest they put the Jerusalem Number Two bus on their ads from now on.

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  • At 8:29 PM , Blogger Malkah said...

    Nice post! Deodorantly challenged..... hahahahahaha. Hey - it's summer.

    You know, I love Israel-rocks-as-exemplified-by-my-Egged-experience stories. I think someone should write a book just of these stories, so all those people who get all smug about how lousy Israel is can read it and weep. Israel rocks as exemplified by Uriah's Egged experience story.


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