Granted, 39 isn’t a nice, whole “rounded” number like 40 (BE”H next year), but this time 39 years ago I arrived in Israel on Aliya with my immediate family. I was a child then, but I remember how instantly I felt something inside me say “I’m home”.
Our first home here was the tiny apartment assigned to us at the Absorption Center in Mevasseret Tziyon. After that, we moved to Jerusalem proper, where I lived until I finished high school. Since then, I have lived south of Be’er Sheva, on a moshav in the central Gush Dan area, Tel Aviv, and now, and for the last 20 years, I have lived up north near Tiberias. I’ve been to Sharm el Shekh, Yamit, and Gush Katif (when they were still considered Israel) and to Metula, and B”H to much in between.
There is a reality in this country of contradictions and impossibilities that defies reason and rational. Indeed, the spiritual energy of this holy land, very literally, defies even natural and physical law. One can never expect the expected and logical. Here’s an example.
The driver of my son’s ride to school is Circacian (Russian Muslim), and whose village, Kfar Kama, is five minutes from the small moshava I live in. Not too long ago, this driver noticed that the house door we use to go out to his vehicle needed a little fixing. I had gone out that day and didn’t know that after making his rounds, he had come back and fixed my door. Later that afternoon, when my son returned, the driver proudly showed me what he had done. I obviously insisted on paying him and thanked him profusely, not only for the work, but for the initiative and gesture. He adamantly refused and said – and I quote his exact words: “Lo, lo! Ze bishveel hamitzvah,” as he waived off my offer: ‘No, no! It’s for the mitzvah.’
On the other hand, there are Jews that I come in contact with daily whose hatred and disdain for me, because I am religious, is obvious. My neighbor just a few houses down the street is one of them. Although she is secular, she got married at 18 and, thus, never got drafted – she had her reason and others have theirs. Nevertheless, every single time I meet up with her, she somehow manages to get in the jab that “all the datiyim don’t serve”. As a religious woman, there are certain things, personal info, I don’t volunteer automatically. What I don’t tell this Jew-hating Jew is that I have served in more capacities and years than all her boys together (excluding their years of miluim). But, she will never be able to see past my head covering, long sleeves and skirt, nor will she ever understand the true meaning and value of Torah – she doesn’t want to. (My blog “Never Judge a Jew By His or Her Cover – Especially Israelis” recounts another similar incident that illustrates this).
Also in a previous post, I blogged about the family member of mine who was murdered in the terrorist attack on Beit Chabad in Mumbai, India. It will be nine years ago this Cheshvon. I have a close friend, who now lives in B’nei Brak, and who was on the bus of the 2002 Immanuel bus attack that killed 9 Jews. Of those 9 were one of her twins, her mother, and her husband, plus her left eye. Yes, the two of us look like most of the other “dossiot” in this country, but don’t anybody try to tell us about terrorism, “The Reality”, and the price we need to pay to be proud Jews in our promised homeland.
Regardless, the rage and hatred – of the left, of the secular of the religious, and of Muslims of Jews – continue here. It seems there is such a surplus of energy that it spills out and manifests also as part of all the contradictions and impossibilities that defy reason and reasoning. In fact, the spiritual energy is so strong and palpable, that contradictory realities, such as “Jerusalem Syndrome” (a psychosis occurring in an otherwise normal person when in Jerusalem) has become an actual, medically recorded term – Google it.
Okay, let’s see. I hate Amalek and the Erev Rav (so does Hashem). I hate chillul Hashem and chillul kvod haTorah. Do I hate hypocrites, like my neighbor down the street? – even half as much as she hates religious Jews? I’m trying to work on my middot. I try hard to persuade myself that all hatred derives from a lack of information and integrated knowledge. After Mumbai, I started writing my book To Cross The Line With a Bridge (Rabeinu Publications, 2015) in which one the theses put forth is essentially this very point.
I’ve really come to hate hatred here. Although, rightfully, I need to add to that the hatred and anti-Semitism that the 4-5-6 generations of my family have suffered from in the US, myself included (before our Aliya).
In truth, I have tons of stories from living here with enough to “prove” that any side, stance, or ideology you can pick from is both right and wrong. I was a “roommate” once in the Emek hospital with a Muslim woman from Um el-Fakhem (yes, the very terrorist’s sanctuary city that’s on the news now) – I preferred a woman over a man in the room. I recently visited a friend in our neighboring Beduin village Shibli. Driving in to her house, elementary school age children were crossing the street. All were wearing their school uniform shirt, which on back read, in Hebrew (though everything else there is in Arabic), “kol hakavod l’Tzahal” – ‘good for the IDF’.
Without question, the most important conclusion I have come to and believe from living here is that no man-made –ism theory or doctrine is right or works for our holy land, but Torah. The only Law and law-of-the-land that resonates with the unique orot or energy of this land – is Torah. It is the balm and panacea to all that ails this preternatural place, just as it is the only solution, divinely tailored to resolve all the conflicts and contradictions that are expected symptoms of Eretz Yisrael without Torat Yisrael exclusively. HKBH gave us this land, and He gave it with His Book: Eretz Yisrael and Torat Yisrael are meant to go together. Incredible synergy results when all three parts of Yisrael – the Eretz, the Am, and the Torah – are together, as Hashem wants and meant it to be.
I hope and pray that by next year, actually well before my “Aliyannaversay” as I’ve seen it called, gets to be that nice, whole “rounded” number 40, we will have already merited welcoming Mashiach Tzidkenu, merited the aliya l’regel of at least one moed to Beit HaMikdash, and have merited the world peace and Shlom-bayit (home-peace) our prophets promise us. B”B!