Saturday, April 05, 2008

3rd Year Aliyah Anniversary

I stumbled across a piece of writing that I wrote around the time when I first arrived here and it was really interesting to read over it again...3 years later...I found it interesting to see the contrast my feelings then and now. When I wrote this I transliterated anything that was in Hebrew, whereas now I would just type it without a second thought, those tiny steps you often overlook but each of them is a contribution to a larger picture...the piece is here below for you to perouse...

Sometimes I forget that I am living in Israel after 2000 years of longing by a misplaced people. I think this usually occurs at about the time when 'ish ploni' (random person) pushes in front of me at the bank and I get in a rage. The other day when waiting for the bus outside the shuk sitting down next to an elderly lady who tells me the story of how she was a Jabotinsky girl, from what I can make out in my broken Hebrew she fought in a resistance movement and here we were sitting on the bench in 2005, her wrinkled face, has clearly seen harsher times, and I wipe the sweat from my brow and listen, it's then that I have the humble thought why is it that I am better than Moses? Why did he not set foot on this soil? Yet I merit living in the holy land?

I realise that I am thinking in terms of crime and punishment. Moses not entering the land of Israel was always described to me in terms of a punishment…because he hit the rock instead of talking to it. The traditional day school explanation for this occurrence is no longer enough for me and I search for some intellectual honesty. Parables of how The temples were destroyed due to the chet ha'egel (sin of the golden calf) and chet'hameraglim (sin of the spies) give rise to the notion that now we have something to cry about on TISHA b'Av seem too superficial for the concept of divine retribution and so I feel some sort of cognitive dissonance between my experiences and traditional reading of texts.

The words of psalms ring in my ears 'omdot hayu raglenu b'sharayich, yerushalayim' our feet stood immobile, in the gates of Jerusalem. I think this best describes the feeling I am experiencing. I am at a stand still, I do not know here to navigate from here, my heart is definitely in the east and now my body is no longer in the west. It flew via Bangkok and London for 2.5 days and landed safely at the new Ben Gurion aiport. I didn't have a map and it seemed almost irresponsible not to know where I was going from here, but I literally landed – I made Aliyah – now what? The instruction book didn't say, or rather there wasn't one available – I didn't receive the copy in the mail.

The fairy tales that were read to me as a child were suddenly alive. Here are the remains of the temple were we made sacrifices to Hashem, where pilgrims came to give their first fruits. Here I try and relate to a pile of stones, and David's thoughts are my thoughts and I too have temptations to sin. So how do I reconcile Biblical history with Modern. I guess it's similar to the process of adjusting from black and white images to technicolour. Number one is acceptance that things will never be the same again. Different times mean different contexts and so when relating to an ancient text in a modern time, I try to wear the glasses of Bat Levi strolling the Cardo looking to buy the most fashionable Kaltah (hair covering). Number 2 is my awareness of the burden and responsibility of history, that is the making of history my story, If I am to be a part of this collective then I need to start being responsible for it as well. Where do I walk here? So many other more important people have walked these hills before me. If I walk in their footsteps, perhaps I will fall in their shadow….perhaps I will blaze a trail?

Number 3 is that I seem to be more conscious of my leaps of faith, the further I delve and the more I explore.If I were only a fly on that rock? Would my basket of unanswered questions be lighter and weigh less on my head? The incongruities of religion bother me but not to the point of heresy, rather the antipathy. I am left with more and more questions but this seems to deepen my faith. I think if the answers were all given to me on a silver platter I wouldn't enjoy it and so I guess the state is like that as well. If I do not ask questions, then I will not be challenged and I will float on by, accepting all that I am told.

It's so hard to communicate, I can't understand the phrases and slang. Language is the cultural expression and I am unable to express myself, I have to re-learn, for 25 years I could talk and now I am stuck for words at least 4/5 times a day. I guess like a baby, I get a chance to oogle at all the new and wonderful delights as I figure out how to classify and label them – giving them a name and identity.

These chance encounters with a woman at the shuk, they form my destiny…. Perhaps it is all meant to be, but at the same time it is so much fun that we have the ability to change things, destiny and free choice seem to work in some sort of symbiosis. They belong together, they choose it to be that way. I should do something for myself each day and change my destiny…for fun, be someone that I only imagined, choose life, one day just get up and leave whatever set routine I have and turn it upside down. Tick.

These are the layers of stones that I see, textured and rough, yet fitting together still standing as a testimony to time. In the interim I read the situation as plain as it stands, I am here and Moses is not. What am I going to do about it? How will I contribute? The psalm seems to naturally continue in my stream of consciousness:
Pray for the peace of
Jerusalem, those who love you will be serene may there be a peace within your walls and serenity within your palaces. For the sake of my brethren and my comrades I shall speak of peace within your midst. For the sake of the house of Hashem, our G-d, I will request good for you.