As King Solomon said, there is a season for everything. Weather is an important factor in our decision-making process, since we live on a speck of earth spinning around a flaming hot ball. It is always necessary to calculate our closeness to flaming hot spheres, since the proximity will determine our activity. Public swimming pools in Los Angeles are generally open from Memorial Day in May to Labor Day in September. Wildfire season in California peaks from July through November, and flames are often fanned by the Santa Ana winds that are hot, dry and sweep down the West Coast. Over in Afghanistan, on the other hand, winter is particularly cold and snowy, which is why the Taliban keep their fighting season from April through October. Why bother leaving the house when it’s chilly and you could be inside with a nice cup of hot chocolate?
Let’s hope that the winter snow is cold enough to cause all of the engines to seize up and stop working, and be thankful that the President didn’t also leave them armed snowmobiles.
The Taliban are hard to beat, especially since President Biden left them a parting gift of $3 billion worth of military equipment with over 2000 armored vehicles that include American humvees. There were approximately 40 aircraft that may be comprised of Scout Attack helicopters, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and ScanEagle military drones, all of which could now be used against the U.S. Fortunately the aircraft need regular maintenance and all pilots require complex training to fly them, which is why the retired U.S. Army General Joseph Votel explained many of the aircraft might not be usable but would be “more like trophies.” Let’s hope that the winter snow is cold enough to cause all of the engines to seize up and stop working, and be thankful that the President didn’t also leave them armed snowmobiles.
Afghanistan had a large Jewish community in the 1900s, but there were only two Jews left by 2000, and they both lived in Kabul’s synagogue, hated each other and didn’t speak other than to argue and trade insults. As the saying goes, “a broiges [disagreement] is for life, not just for simchas [parties].” The arguments eventually stopped, but only when one of them died in January 2005.
The last Jew in Kabul was planning to leave after this month’s High Holyday season. “I managed to protect the synagogue of Kabul,” he told the Arab News. This week he escaped with the help of Moti Kahana, an Israeli-American businessman whose private security firm organized the evacuation. The Afghan is headed to New York, but would not go to Israel since his estranged wife and daughters are living there. He has refused to give his wife a get (religious divorce) and faces a possible jail sentence if he enters Israel. He is a synagogue-defending hero in one country and a divorce-refusing villain in another. I would like to translate the following phrase into Pashto, one of Afghanistan’s two official languages: “Come to Los Angeles and I’ll option your life story.”
Americans have suffered in the 20-year Afghan war, and I came face-to-face with this on July 5, 2019. I was recovering from big surgery and hiking Yosemite, slowly climbing a mountain and taking breaks to catch my breath. Ready to accept defeat, I saw someone racing up in a wheelchair. It was 33-year-old Daniel Riley, a retired veteran from the Marine Corps. He served in Marjah, Afghanistan in 2010 where he stepped on an IED and the explosion blew off both of his legs along with several fingers. I filmed an impromptu interview with him, but he politely declined my offer to push him up the mountain. “The first thing I learned was that you can never complain too much,” he said. “[In military hospital] I’d look around and see a guy who is missing both legs and an arm. That guy can’t complain because he’ll turn around and see a guy who is missing both legs and both arms … everybody’s got their challenges. Mine are just very visible.”
This is the season when the Jewish community reflects and repents. Kabbalists compare prayer to war. This year we can pray with a military-grade focus, and strive for the day when a spiritual battle is the only fighting season left on earth.
Marcus J Freed is an actor, writer and marketing consultant. www.marcusjfreed.com @marcusjfreed