Friday, August 1, 2008



Everything seemed to be well organized; I wanted to spend this upcoming Shabbat at home in Tel Aviv. Going to a Chabad Synagogue and later on, walk to Bnei Brak and maybe find a chassidic Tish. However, finding a chassidic Tish would be rather difficult, as this Shabbat, the month of Menachem Av begins and therefore we enter the nine days before Tisha Be' Av.

Tisha Be' Av is a fast day with the same Halachot as Yom Kippur. The only difference is that you are allowed to switch on the lights, work (most religious people don't work), ride on buses, do anything but not eat, drink, not wearing leather shoes, etc. The nine days before Tisha Be' Av also include certain strict mourning rules, except on Shabbat where we are supposed to be joyful.

Basically my life is divided between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and whenever I stay in Jerusalem overnight, I have to look for a place. Hostels are hardly available, as most of them are Arab. And almost all Arab hostels don't accept Israelis unless you have a foreign passport to show. I don't have a foreign passport anymore which means I am stuck.

Therefore sometimes I stay with friends and other times I spend the night in a religious Jewish hostel in the Old City. Yesterday, however, I made up my mind to stay in Tel Aviv and not having all this fuss with finding a place. Of course, I could have stayed with friends in Mea Shearim or in the Old City but I wasn't too much in a mood. This mostly means that I am stuck in one system and cannot be independent.

But Jerusalem wouldn't be Jerusalem if there wasn't the usual daily surprise. Yesterday at noon, I met Rabbi Mordechai Machlis in downtown Jerusalem and he immediately asked me where I would spend Shabbat.

"Well, Tel Aviv - Bnei Brak", I replied.

"No, no, you cannot do this. You have to be in Jerusalem. If possible in my home (and with the other 70, or so) guests".

"I don't really have a place to stay", I said. "I could stay with the Litvishe in the Old City or in Mea Shearim. If I stay in Mea Shearim I am stuck in a certain chassidic system. If I go to the litvishe hostel, I have to keep a curfew".

The Rabbi didn't hesitate for a second and offered to find me a place. I should call him back at night. Actually he didn't leave me alone anymore until I gave in. Later on, I found a place to stay and left him a message that everything worked out just fine. I will be part of a system but, more or less, independent. And as Rabbi Machlis loves to mention:

It says in Talmud Bava Batra that at Temple times, people in Jerusalem used to hang out white tablecloths in front of their houses. The tablecloth was a sign to everyone that the owner of the house invites everybody for a meal. Anyone can just walk in and the tablecloth is the invitation.

Although the Machlises do not hang out tablecloths, everyone can just walk in. This gives us a feeling of how it used to be at Temple times. Or it shows us how it is going to be when the Third Temple is being build.

Furthermore it says in the Talmud that, at also at Temple times, the Jerusalemites used to open their houses for any guests. At the high holidays, all Jews used to come to Jerusalem in order to bring their sacrifices in the Beit HaMikdash. Local hotels couldn't deal with all the masses and all inhabitants opened their private homes and let people stay.

Today it seems like the Machlises continue this tradition. Someone once told me that Rabbi Machlis even let three people sleep in his car. His house was already full of guests staying over and therefore he offered his car so that no one had to sleep in the street.

"Shabbat Shalom" to all of you and that you might find a great place for Shabbat. The Machlises are unique in this world but hopefully you are able to find similar hosts.


  1. B''H
    Shalom Miriam

    u wrote: If I go to the litvishe hostel, I have to keep a curfew".

    plss can u explain me about this curfew?

  2. B"H

    Hi Carlos,

    A CURFEW means that someone else is telling you to be at home at a certain hour. Let's say: You have to be home by midnight, otherwise the hostel is closing and you cannot come in anymore.

  3. the warmth from this family is amazing, BH

  4. It's well known that various homeless people would regularly camp out in the Machlis's old van. There was a time one morning when he let his nephew borrow the car, forgetting to mention this little tidbit. Sometime later, as he was driving, his nephew was quite surprised to discover a man in the back seat waking up, angrily demanding to know where he was being taken!

  5. B"H

    Was the guy in the back of the car maybe MORDECHAI ????? :-)))))

    I mean the one who has been staying there many times !!!!