Mitzvah boyzSo I don’t believe in ‘a religious God’ or whatever, I’m only human and can only grasp so much, but for me, it’s safe to think that the Universe and its Ways are what guide the world with the Force of… whatever it is keeping us all moving.

But this, what I’m about to describe, is straight out of one of the Charedi story books my mother-in-law just bought for the kids. The only thing missing was that I’m not a little boy in an oversized kippa.

On my way back from a walk this morning, when I passed the mailboxes, I noticed a letter on the ground. I picked it up and it was from the traffic authority. I saw that it was addressed to an apartment not too far, so I figured I’d walk it to the owner. I turned around, headed toward the address, slipped it behind the family-name sign on the door, and went back the way I came.

When I got back to the mailboxes, I saw a kippa sruga Sephardi dude in his late 50s/early 60s looking around the sidewalk. I watched him for a few seconds and realized he was probably the envelope owner. I walked up to him and asked him if he lost a letter.

He looked really confused (obviously) and said, yeah. I told him I had found it and put it on his door. He still looked confused so I repeated it. His face lit up and he thanked me and I said no problem, and walked off.

First of all, I feel I even told this story in the voice of one of those Charedi story books.

Secondly, the fact that the dude was religious could mean I was a pawn in the universe of religion, where I served as the person giving back good karma in the form of a big fat juicy mitzva to the religious dude who’s racked up enough points.

Thirdly, maybe I wasn’t that pawn, but walking home, I did feel like a little cartoon-drawn Charedi boy with an oversized kippa and curly payos, returning with a happiness that runs quite deep into the Universe.

Lucky number 13.

Here’s a subtle cultural difference you don’t think about that often as a dual New York-Israel citizen.

In Israel – as in Judaism in general – 13 is a great number. It’s the number when a boy becomes a man, at least mitzvot-wise.

In Anglo culture – or is it Christian culture? European culture?  – the number 13 is not a reference to the Bar Mitzvah, but an unlucky number that must be avoided. For my American side, the number 13 conjures up thoughts of black cats and witches; pretty much Halloween.

I have heard of very old-school high-rise buildings in New York that were built to ‘skip’ the 13th level; who would want to live or work on such an unlucky floor?

That includes the office building where I work while I’m here in New York. Here’s the solution:

A little American ignorance never hurt anyone, eh?

To be fair, Israelis (and Jews) are plenty superstitious. It’s just not concerning the number 13.