I just figured out how to change the settings to let anyone post a comment; I didn't realize that no one could unless they were also a "blogger." So please write me if you're reading this!
Today is 9/11. These two links were some of the better things I found floating around today:
I've been doing a lot of thinking the last few days, about stuff I've written here, about our lives here, and I realize I haven't really painted a true picture of what it's like. What it is to wake up knowing that you're living in a holy place and yet still waking up every morning, getting dressed, davening, eating breakfast, going out for the day. What exactly makes it different being HERE as opposed to being THERE?
How to put it into words? I think it can only be felt and yet I want to convey those feelings. It's knowing, first hand, that you're part of the "bigger picture." It's looking around at the people, the landscape, the horizon, the moon from your mirpeset, the olive trees, the palm trees, the hills, the children, the bus drivers. It's the families walking together or at the park together, the sound of voices from all the open windows on Shabbos. It's sharing a Shabbos table with a couple from South Africa and another from Toronto and another from Woodmere. It's sitting in class learning Hebrew with people from Venezuela and from Thailand and from the Phillipines and from Holland and from France and from all over the United States. It's the tears you can't stop when you stand at the Wall and hold out your hand to touch it - and knowing that thousands of hands have touched that spot over millenia and a trillion tears have been shed there. It's that connection you feel, that you really, truly FEEL, when you talk to Hashem and you know He's RIGHT THERE and He's nodding his head and He understands you and you believe with all you heart that He's listening and considering all you have to say.
And it's going back home at the end of ulpan or the end of the day, to your very own home that you've made in this special, holy place and knowing there is no other home anywhere else in the world. You don't have to get in an airplane and fly away from here. And it's the gratitude for that. For that and for so many, many more blessings. The appreciation you feel for everything, always, constantly: the soul mates you meet (everyone who feels as you do), the food that is grown here, the ability to walk around to get to the places you need to get to, the fresh air blowing through your windows at night, the feelings in your fingers that can touch and feel, the ability to see the computer screen and the words on the blackboard, the scent of the bouginvilla vines lining the paths, always the sound of children from the windows and sidewalks and parks - so very much more to thank Him for. And most of all, everyday to thank my Creator for opening my eyes nearly 14 years ago and leading me on this path. I can hardly believe that I have been so "lucky."
And it's also knowing how precarious it all is. America had terrorists blow up two buildings five years ago, and no one really remembers any more. No one seems to be concerned that there may be more of the same to come, or else they just don't want to think about it. Here, we know there's more to come. When there was fighting in Lebanon, people from all around us, reservists, were called up to go fight. There were emails daily on the Shemesh list about young husbands (and older husbands) who live right here who had to leave wives and children to fight for all of us (and yes, that us includes you. They don't want to just kill Israelis; they want to kill Jews). It's so obvious that Hashem is orchestrating the stupidity of our political "leaders" and the blindness of the world. Anti-semitism is rampant everywhere; the terrorists are getting braver because they're being accepted. But this isn't what I want to say!
People who live here, Torah observant Jews, feel a special responsibility. "It is because of us, our actions, that the things happening in the world today are happening." What we do, what we say - we're the example for the rest of the world. People here know this! If a son, brother, father dies - we ask ourselves, "What did I do wrong?" Did I lose my connection to my Creator? Was there a friend I let down, did I lose our temper with my teenager, did I talk about my neighbor behind his back? What did I do or not do that I should have or should not have?" There's a feeling of personal responsibility here that's palpable. No one says it out loud - it's just the way people live their lives.
At the height of the war, I was emailed a prayer that I say every morning. It came from A Still Small Voice (they have a website) and this is how it goes:
Let it be that every Jew, no matter where they stand, no matter what they face; let it be that they should see the light, i.e., HasShem's light. And let them integrate that light so deeply into their thought, speed and deed, that they (and we together) should become the light, i.e., the light unto the nations that is our truth and our destiny.
And we should shine that light out into the world with such force and radiance, that all the nations of the world, and particularly our enemies among them, should see the light, i.e., Hashem's light, as it shines through the Jewish people, and they should immediately do teshuva (repent) and be redeemed.
I don't know if I said what I wanted to say. I don't know if you have even an inkling of what I'm feeling. But I hope so. I didn't want this blog to be just about frivolous things; a lot of why we're here isn't based on tangible reasons and I needed to say that.
Reading about 9/11 today made me really introspective, although this is stuff I've been mulling over for awhile.
So maybe now isn't the time to tell you that David took a 7 mile walk yesterday at 1:30 in the afternoon when it was 95 degrees out. He went with the husband of a woman in our ulpan class that we've gotten to be really close with (and had Shabbos lunch with this past week). Yeah, maybe next time I'll tell some more about that. It's almost midnight and ulpan starts early tomorrow morning. May you be blessed with all of Hashem's benevolence and may you know only shalom.