The freedoms within (ask me about what I mean)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The great hall which was revealed to me

"Today is the day I'm finally going to achieve what I have desired so badly in the past two years. I'm breaking out of my element and entering a new world, that will fill me up with many valuable life lessons and experiences. I am truly happy with my decision to go. No matter how many hardships it came with, I am following my heart, and isn't that what everyone says to do?"

On September 20th, 2010 I wrote this first paragraph to my first post on my America to Israel blog. It doesn't seem like almost a year has gone by. I can vividly remember exactly how I felt when I got here. My memory is painted with pictures of everything I encountered since that day in September. I read in my personal journal what I wrote, and its as if I'd be re-living those days over again. I still can't believe that I'm going back to America in a few hours.

So for one final thought, this is what I did today for my last day of my gap year in Israel. Of course, I went to the Kotel. I don't care how many times I've been there this year...but the connection and spiritual energy that flows in the air is a connection you can't get anywhere else. It's like above full service on your cell phone-you are right next to the source of all the service.

So I was walking up to the wall for the last time in a while and I went to the book shelves where all the prayer books are stored. I looked around and tried to find an english/hebrew tehillim. Shelf after shelf I was looking and I just couldn't find one. I almost gave up but then of course the cliche circumstance; on the last shelf on the bottom an english/hebrew tehillim was staring at me. I walked a few steps then sat a little bit away from the wall. I started to read the psalms. One after the next-it was hard for me to connect this way..but I kept on reading. As I was reading, a very religious woman came up to me and told me that it was inappropriate the way I was sitting. A little part of my knee was showing. I kind of just stared at you and she was like 'what do you not understand?' Kind of shcok I said 'yes I understand' but I didn't really move. She walked away only to return with a scarf for me to cover my knees and placed it over them. I didn't really react, but I kind of just sat as she assembled it to cover my knees perfectly.

I started to cry as she walked away - no idea why. But tears just started to flow...At first I was a bit upset that she did that, but I quickly realized this was the best gift I recieved yet. She helped me release my emotions that were built up from everything that had happened this year. The number 66 popped into my mind (since 66 is one of my favorite numbers) and I quickly turned to Psalm 66 and started to read. I will write in easier language how I percieved it:

'Shout to G-d in happiness, sing about how amazing he is, and make what he says glorious. Say to G-d 'How amazing is everything that you do-one day the bad people of the world will admit to you that they were wrong-Everyone on earth will one day realize how amazing this life you give to the world is and will forever praise what you offer.'
Go into yourself to feel what G-d is putting on this earth for you-there's so much more to this life than what you think...Everything that G-d did and does for us, natural miracles; we rejoice in his name. Under the almighty you cannot hide from who you are-you cannot hide from your soul-it is inside of you. Please, everyone in this world, humble yourself and realize we have an ultimate sustainer-make this clear to everyone!
Hashem has kept my soul within alive and didn't let me walk too far away from this amazing lifestyle. He tested me-and then he helped me change my inner thoughts just as if he was polishing silver. He put me in so many tests, they got to me so deeply-you Hashem have made me think and probe my innermost thoughts and feelings on what it means to be a good person. I'm going to do whatever I can to thank you-even though I know its going to be a hard journey.
I am going to spread this to the people-what I learned from being here. I wanted this so badly and through his help I spoke the words saying I will come to Israel for the year to become who I truly want to be. I know I said and did so many things that were not in the word of G-d, but he still was there for me. Blessed is the G-d that helped me through the times of wandering..blessed is the one who didn't leave me hanging...he listened to my prayers and was amazing to me and for that I am so thankful.'

After reading this (this was the way I percieved it) I contuned to cry and then made my way over to the wall. I prayed a mincha so strongly meditating on each prayer slowly. Tears were flowing, I was releasing and letting go and feeling an amazing feeling of what this year brought me. I walked backwards away from it looking for the amazing angel that helped me through this, the woman that told me to cover my knees, but I couldn't find her. So I left.

So in 2 and a half hours I have a cab ride to the airport. This year has been the best year of my life-I learned so much and am so thankful for what it brought me. All I want is to spread this joy to the teenagers that are in the same position as I was-lost and looking for something more. My life goal is to fulfill that dream. We are all connected and theres nothing more that I want than to bring that connection together as much as I possibly can. I will continue this blog as my journey to Stern College continues as it will all stem from my year here, in our land, Israel.
Am Yisrael Chai- The Nation of Israel lives.

Anyone can achieve these amazing feelings I've discovered here. One secret that keeps me going that is written on the back of one of my bracelets is

"Open up for me the size of a needle, and I will reveal to you a great hall..."

Think about it.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A reason behind it all

So its official. I have less than 10 days left here. In this wonderful place I now call home. Israel. My home, the home of the Jewish people.

When I was booking my flight, the only thing on my mind was, make sure the travel agent doesn't book my flight on Shabbat. Nothing else was on m mind since I though there was no holidays till later in the summer, so waht could get in the way. I was basing my thoughts off my summers in sleep away camp where the only holiday, Tisha Bav, was towards the end of the summer...whoops.

So my flight is booked for August 8th. The day before Tisha B'av, the 25 hours fast day where the Jews mourn for the destruction of the temple. So of my flight goes as planned..I'm going to get back to Israel 4 hours before the holiday starts. That is if my flight goes as planned. If not..than I'm going to spending the holiday in the connecting city, Vienna, Austria. That's all up to the man upstairs, so we'll see what happens. much as it pains me that I can't be sitting in the courtyard of the Western Wall, looking straight at the remains of the destruction of the temple..I couldn't think of the timing being any more appropriate. I've been here all year..exploring my inner most self, my soul, reaching out to many people in question, finding answers, connecting to this amazing land in every spiritual and physical way, and ultimately connecting to Hashem. It has been the best year of my life..and it saddens me knowing that this chapter of being in Israel in my life is quickly coming to an end.

Tisha B'av is the holiday where were mouring the loss of the temple.  Taken from, five major things occured:

• During the time of Moses, Jews in the desert accepted the slanderous report of the 10 Spies, and the decree was issued forbidding them from entering the Land of Israel. (1312 BCE)
• The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar. 100,000 Jews were slaughtered and millions more exiled. (586 BCE)
• The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans, led by Titus. Some two million Jews died, and another one million were exiled. (70 CE)
• The Bar Kochba revolt was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The city of Betar -- the Jews' last stand against the Romans -- was captured and liquidated. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered. (135 CE)
• The Temple area and its surroundings were plowed under by the Roman general Turnus Rufus. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city -- renamed Aelia Capitolina -- and access was forbidden to Jews. 
So we fast for 25 hours, sitting low, thinking low, speaking low, and trying to get to an emotional level of mourning for these events. I personally find it a bit hard, knowing that I wasn't there to expereince all of these horrific events..but I recently heard something that I know will help me with this mouring process. 
On September 9th, 2003 a suicide bombing went off in Jerusalem in front of Cafe Hillel. Two of the victims that were murdered from this event were David and Naava Applebaum, an American-Israeli father and daughter. They were going to Cafe Hillel to have a very special talk. This was the night before Naava's wedding and her father wanted to take her out for a hot drink and chat with her before she took this big step in her life. Just as they were entering the cafe, the suicide bomber exploded himself murdering and injuring many innocent people. Naava's fiance collapsed in the waiting room of the Sharie Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem after learning his future wife did not make it. At the funeral, he placed the wedding ring at her gravesite and muttered 'this was for you'. Her wedding dress was made into a a Torah ark covering and is now used as a covering for the Torah Scrolls in Kever Rachel. Fortunately, Chanan, her fiance, was able to not let this event destroy him for the rest of his life and in 2009 got engaged and got married to another amazing woman, Penina.  
I was talking to one of my amazing friends and dear madricha from my Isralight Inward Bound program, Daniella Strick, and I was telling her how I have a hard time mouring over the temple. I've never seen it, or felt its presence, so I can't exactly cry over the fact that its not there. She than proceeded to tell me this story of Naava and Chanan and added one more thing. There was a recent story about Chanan reported that he was crying. But the reason he was crying was not that he missed his late was that he was crying over something that never existed, something he never truly got to feel.Daniella told me everyone has a hard time, especially in this day and age, moruing over something we never got to experience before. 
It made a lot of sense to me. I'm going to, along with many other people, mourn over the fact that I don't know what this amazing thing, the Beit Hamikdash, the center of access to Hashem, really truly is. 
It made even more sense to me that my flight was booked back to America the day before this holiday, and that I would be away from my land on this specific day. I'm going to not only feel the pain of not being connected after this whole year of intense connection, but I'm also going to be feeling that extreme lack in knowing what that center of spirituality really feels like. 
Its hard for some people to experience returning home after a whole year in Israel. They dangerously loose the clarity and spiritualty they gained here and return to who they were before their journey began. Of course I fear that this may happen to me, but after learning of this story, and the exact timing of me returning to America-  I couldn't be happier that it is happening this way. Immediately when I get back to my home away from I am going to be hit with an intense 25 hours of thinking of missing the connection the jewish people are lacking. I am literally going to be experiencing this. 
I checked into Israel, and even thoguh I'm leaving, I'm never going to check out. My emotions erupt in knowing I'm leaving..but all I want to do is spread this wonderful gift that Hashem has given me. So I'll go back to American, with a clear head, taking my priorities head on. I see that this flight was booked on this day for a reason...well I see that everything happens for a reason. I hope everyone else can take on this message of missing Israel and missing the temple, the center of spirituality, and can take on that G-d is the author of our lives...everything truly does happen for a reason.
Remembering Naava Applebaum.