Friday morning, I had my own taste of it.
Apartments in Israel don’t tend to have any central heating, and also tend to be really, really cold in the winter. Most people seem to buy plug-in electrical heating devices to heat the space they’re in over winter, or turn their air-conditioning units to ‘hot’.
The last few years’, we’ve been using a ‘glow in the dark’ electrified coil-type of heater - which to be honest, I’ve never liked as they always struck me as pretty dangerous. But they give off a lot of heat, and the rest of my family likes them a lot.
Which brings me to what happened last Friday.
There’s a strange thing that happens with teenagers that all the common sense rules and regulations you ever told them seem to get wiped out of their brains as soon as they hit 13.
Many of these ‘rules’ ARE just opinions, social norms, parental preferences, and the teen is justified in rethinking the validity of these types of rules. But other things - like the strict instruction to NEVER PUT CLOTHING ON THE FIRE-THING TO WARM UP - are clearly just plain common-sense and potentially life-saving.
Sadly, teens often don’t seem to realize that some rules really are inviolable, and for good reason.
Last Friday, thank God my husband was feeling really, really poorly, so he didn’t get up to go to shul like he usually does. I
was finding it hard to get out of bed (occasionally that happens…) so my daughter was getting her own act together to go to school.
Eventually, I found the will to get up and make my kid a sandwich, so I opened my bedroom door - and saw a raging inferno burning away in my living room. I didn’t have my glasses on, so it mamash looked like the whole place had gone up in flames.
I started screaming, my husband and daughter came running, and I decided that we had to get everyone out the apartment ASAP as the fire was very close to the front door and it didn’t look like we’d have much time to get out. I sent the kid to wake up her (still sleeping) sister and friend, and then I just panicked for about a minute and kind of froze in place.
Thank God for my husband. He grabbed a cushion off the armchair and started beating the flames out. Once everything calmed down (and I put my glasses on) I could see what had actually happened.
My kid had put her jeans skirt on the fire ‘to warm up’ then left it to go and find a top. It had caught fire and fragmented into many different sections, each of which was burning. We were SO lucky that nothing else caught fire, as my apartment is on the small side, and there was a ton of very flammable stuff all around. If any of those things had caught, I wouldn’t be typing this now.
When we all calmed down a little, I realized the following:
- If my husband hadn’t been ill and at home that morning, things would have ended very differently.
- Staying in bed and ignoring reality is sometimes very dangerous (who knew?)
- Even very clever, sensitive and otherwise amazing teenagers are occasionally SO DUMB it’s astounding
- We need to buy a radiator…
The last thing I realized is how much God loves me. I felt very strongly that if I hadn’t made all the teshuva I’d made last week to try to quench all my ‘internal fires of hatred’ against certain people, things could have ended very differently, God forbid.
Our Sages often equate anger and rage to a destructive fire. Last week I got a small taste of just how much damage these ‘fires’ can do, if we don’t make every effort to put them out ASAP.