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For six days a week here in my neighborhood in Jerusalem it is impossible for one to reasonably expect to sleep late in the morning. I usually rise at about 6 AM and I am awakened by all sorts of sounds from the outside world that drift into my bedroom. First, the birds start chirping away loudly and persistently well before the actual sunrise. In my neighborhood there are several woodpeckers that are busy at work by 6 AM in the morning. The incessant pounding of the woodpecker against the wood of the tree resembles the sound of a hammering drill…. and unless you love woodpeckers, it can be deemed quite disturbing.

But these are only the small sounds that nature sends to tell us that it’s time to get out from under the warm covers and begin our daily prayers, chores and lives. The real noises which are almost impossible to sleep through, are the man-made products of our modern technologically advanced society. Chief among them are the sounds of our faithful servants, the sanitation workers collecting the garbage bins on our streets. Part of their skill in so doing is to shout amongst themselves while cheerfully performing their most necessary tasks. And then there is the sound of the garbage bins themselves being dragged to certain strategic locations where the large garbage truck waits with its motor idling loudly. 
The climax of this very noisy process is naturally achieved when the bins containing the garbage are hooked onto the back of the garbage truck and emptied with a loud clang into the yawning jaws of the garbage truck itself. This is followed by the loud grinding noise of the garbage truck digesting its newly acquired contents and churning it into the litter that continually fills our Jerusalem landfills. All in all, it is quite an auditory experience.
Over the past few years a great deal of new construction has taken place and is taking place on our formerly quiet serene street here in Jerusalem. Construction here in Israel is very noisy and begins very early in the day. Even before 7 AM, one hears the rumble of the gigantic trucks delivering construction material to the building site. There are also days when cement has to be poured and those cement trucks, even when idling, are very noisy. In the overall picture, I am immensely proud that Jerusalem is building and expanding so rapidly.
What was once a sort of sleepy little city has now become a burgeoning metropolis. But I must admit that there are moments that I ask myself why all of this had to happen under my window so early in the morning. I know that this is very selfish on my part so I would never dare verbalize this feeling in public. But all of you should be aware that having construction within a few meters of your residence creates a very noisy environment very early in the morning.
My refuge from early-morning noise, as well as from many other mundane nuisances, is the holy day of Shabbat. On Shabbat morning only the chirping of the birds can be heard in our neighborhood and, even then, they seem to be doing it in a lower key and lesser volume. One of the blessings of life, though not often achieved or appreciated, is the serenity and magnificence of silence. Shabbat morning in my neighborhood is silent, peaceful and serene. I do not really sleep later Shabbat morning, for my body clock is not really set to such exactitude. However, I do awake more calmly and am able to truly savor the Shabbat atmosphere here in the holy city.
Even the early-morning synagogue goers proceed in silence so as not to disturb the peace that reigns in the neighborhood. I do not really know how human beings can deal with the hustle, bustle and noise of everyday life without having the respite which Shabbat regularly affords. So, I have become accustomed to the usual morning noises of the regular weekdays, but I am always amazed and gratified at the silence of Shabbat mornings and of the refreshing feeling to my inner being that Shabbat always brings.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

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