Friday, February 03, 2006

Do they have bike shops in heaven?

A porterait of the Bal Shem Tov (BeSHT)
I got to talking with one of our Rabbis about Bicycling. I guess it is the spring thaw. He asked me if I could hook him up with a bike so we could go riding, and this got me thinking about bikes in general.

I guess I had been off the wheels for a while during the winter. It wasn’t really about all of the “black ice” on the roads or the 30 and 40 below temperatures, but more that there weren’t a lot of places to be going to. I have been indoors and on the computer a lot, so there just weren’t so many opportunities to peddle about.

But I am back in the saddle again and I tell you folks, I feel so much better for doing it. I have always said that I am happily addicted to riding and even when I slip, the bike reminds me eventually how I became that way.

Along with this, the rabbi added a thought that I really out to write more about biking. I had told him some of the stories from my riding across the USA in 1998 and he thought that they might make interesting reading for the blog. I don’t know if this will happen, but I am thinking that doing so might at least be more fun than the local miseries I have been writing about, and certainly it would have to be better than speaking of Poland…

Speaking of Poland, I have gotten it on good authority that there might be a chance for some authentic (read: non-Polish) legal help within the foreseeable future. A very good friend has a very good friend who is supposed to be a real great white of a shark as international lawyers go and he says there is some good chance that my $125,000,000 lawsuit against Poland might actually be taken up. Obviously hope springs eternal, but even the thought that I might be marching in to Poland in 2006 has be all aglow. And will you be reading about this in the press? Oh yes you will.

But back to Rabbi David, he added another mind bender of a story and asked that I write it for him. If your head goes “kazing” at the end, don’t worry, every one here had the same reaction.

“One day the BeSHT (The founder the Hasidic movement) was riding in a horse cart with a group of rabbis here in what is now called Belarus. It was in the winter so all were cold and so the Rebbe was telling stories to help keep their minds from the cold.

But the road was bad, and the cart was tossing and turning and all of the rabbis were distracted from the story. So the Rebbe asked that all only listen to him and to ignore the horse and the road completely, even the driver.

“The horse knows his way,” the Rebbe said, “we’ll get there.”

And so the rabbis followed his lead and soon were immersed in wonderful stories. And after a while they realized that the road had somehow also become smooth and without any bumps.

“This is wonderful!” exclaimed one of the rabbis.

“Could anything make it better?” Asked the Rebbe. All thought about this for a moment and then the rabbi prompted them to look under their seats and see what they could find. And low and behold, under each of them was a bottle of vodka! The Rebbe smiled at how pleased at how happy this gift made everyone.

And so they all toasted and drank and sang songs and were having a wonderful time until one of the rabbis looked up and saw that they were now not only on a road anymore, but were in fact in heaven.

“It’s a miracle! How has this happened?” They all cried. And then they saw Ivan, a drunk from the town from which they had come lying passed out along the path they were following. As they passed him by, they saw that he had a bottle still in his hands and that he had thrown up all over himself and that a small dog was licking him.

“Look at Ivan.” One of them cried, “He is under the dog!”

And to this the Rebbe responded: “Is he under the dog, or is he in heaven?”

End note:

I have a friend coming out to visit this summer. His wife’s relatives live in Pinsk. And, like a lot of westerners, he found Belarus somewhat difficult to get used to. His salvation was that he had brought with him the complete “Seinfeld” archives with him, all 180 episodes and went through them in 45 days.

I wrote this poem for him, and thought I would share it with you. (It was inspired by the song “I left my heart in San Francisco”)

Give a kiss to Lena

I left my heart
In Belaruuuu-uuus.
It has no hills
Or stormy seas

And when I go there
To Belaruuuu-uuus.
It’s so boring (But for the Seinfelds)
I’m on my knees

But I love my wife
Who’s from Belaruuuu-uuus.
So I’ll do it
Just to please

But thank G-d I’m going
To Belaruuuu-uuus.
In the summer
So at least we won’t freeze…

More soon...