Six Yeshiva Students Skimming Pebbles
At the end of November 2016 my wife and I spent a few days in the Lake District. It was the end of the most glorious autumn I can recall and the air itself seemed golden from the leaves. On a Sunday we took a stroll around Buttermere, one of the more secluded lakes with a circuit of about four and a half miles; a pleasant easy walk. The weather was perfect and the water mirror-still.
We were on the return leg, about half a mile from the hamlet at the head of the lake, when I noticed a group of black and white figures a few hundred yards off, by the water’s edge. At a distance the effect was rather like a group of penguins, and the simile also captures something of the oddity, the out-of-placeness of the group; the contrast of black and white with the sharply clear autumnal colours and the water reflecting the sky.
So we approached and the image resolved itself as half a dozen or so Jewish adolescents with their rabbi. The boys sported straggly teenage beards, and black suits, with tzitzit trailing at the lower edge of their jackets. They had set up picnic chairs by the water and were enjoying themselves skimming pebbles on the still surface of the lake.
The boys and the rabbi gave us an amiable welcome but said nothing about what had brought them out here in their orthodox finery to skim pebbles on Buttermere. My wife skimmed a few with them and then we strolled on, none the wiser.
There is no moral to this tale or sharp insight that I am aware of.