Today I will take us through something which happened today which despite being completely apolitical still managed to overwhelm me unlike anything I have ever experienced. But, as usual, some background. As some of my readers have likely figured out, I am currently in Israel coming from my home in the United States. I am taking what is called a pilot trip with my wife in order to assist in planning making Aliyah later this year if all goes well. In the past when the moment was right or something coerced conversations to the subject of Israel and its special place and meaning to Jews I had expressed many thoughts, emotions, desires and experiences which I had either heard about, knew for sure or were otherwise relevant to the particular subject discussed. The importance and inability to replace Eretz Yisroel in Judaism was always a subject high on the list of discussion issues. But when my daughter and I spoke right before I left, we discussed the expectations I held and what type of reaction did I feel I might have upon deplaning in Israel. There was good reason that this was our subject which I will try and recall and explain as accurately as I am able.
I had heard from people over the years about their reactions when first arriving in Israel. Some of these stories or recounting was given by people who had simply visited Israel while others came from actual Olim who had returned to the United States for a vacation and to visit relatives and friends left behind. Some of the stories had been recounting told by people giving testimonials and still other by comedians who related their stories mixed with humorous anecdotal tales some of which may have been slightly enhanced or contrived. Still, the combined total provided for some interesting stories with a rich mixture. One repeated emotion was most often recalled was the act of kissing the ground as soon as they hit the runway after landing in Israel. Since some of these people were relating events from within the past decade or two, one might be somewhat suspicious as almost all airports no longer deplane down stairs onto the tarmac but rather through gates which empty into the terminal of the airport. That simple exaggeration was likely to express their reactions once they cleared customs and baggage claim and cleared the airport and reached their destination by train and possibly taxi as the likelihood of reaching an area of ground suitable for kissing is unlikely anywhere close to Ben Gurion Airport. That aside, many people explained being overwhelmed with emotions and simply weeping with exultation upon landing in Israel or seeing the fountain spelling out ‘Welcome Olim’ in its computer controlled water shower similar to this example or this example. I know that it is likely that any programmable fountain would strike awe into even many of the most staid people on the face of this Earth. Still, despite all the stories shared between my daughter and myself, my prediction was that I was most likely to prove to be among those staid people who would shrug at the fountain, let alone be so predictable as to kiss the ground or, as one comedian related about his children initially being embarrassed when he rolled around in the sand and dust upon landing in Israel only to have them join him rolling on the ground after he had stopped a number of times so he could repeat his odd routine. He had explained to them that the land of Israel was magical and he was soaking up the magic of Eretz Yisroel and they eventually gave it a try and according to this comedian, they all loved it and they still do it to this day often to the amazement of all around them when they partake of this now family act and joke, perhaps by now, family custom. I am sad to report that I reached my hotel and at no point did I fall to the ground to kiss the ground, let alone roll around kicking up magic Israeli dust.
My wife and I landed just before noon last Friday. When we were having lunch in the middle of a touring trip to visit and experience some of the communities in the Galilee we reached the end of day four. Still no emotional outburst or even a fluttering other than the feeling that the ground under my feet was pulsating and moving ever so gently back and forth. Not constantly as much as from time to time, something which I explained as being a reaction to far too much walking and advanced age. After our small lunch snack we returned to the tour-bus and waited for the rest of our entourage of future Olim to return and our tour to continue. This was the actual start of day number five as we had just passed noon. That is when the world changed in a single moment. We were in front of the City Hall and administrative building for Karmiel in the middle of the Galilee with the temperature around fifty-five to sixty-something and a nice stiff breeze. I looked out the window at nothing in particular, just scanning and taking in the area. My sight came to rest on the flagpole with the Star of David with the two deep blue stripes of the flag of Israel billowing and waving wonderfully in the breeze. The Jewish six-pointed Star just grabbed me and it hit me, I was in Israel, I was finally and really in Israel, I was home, I need some tissues. There was a warm surge of a kind of tingle that was of a really strong and wonderful type which swept through me up, down, back and forth repeatedly never quite repeating but simply washing me beyond delight. The feeling was exactly what I have felt before whenever I would hear Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem, but much more so. This unexplainable excited bliss continued taking different forms and continues now as I write of my emotions just looking at that one sole flag waving in the wind with soft billowing clouds almost dancing across the sky behind her. I have had my Israel revelation and I cannot find any words which would give it the description and meaning even remotely approaching the elation and absolute ecstasy, delight, joyousness, exuberance and whatever else one could think to add. In my life I have had very few specific moments which compare in any way with what I felt today. Likely the closest I have ever been to what I felt today, and was possibly equal or even more intense as this celebrated something equally important in my life, was the chanting of the Aliyah prayers for the reading of Torah at my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. Beyond this I do not know what can be added so I will end here and relax and relive this wondrous eventful experience and bask in the warm afterglow.
Beyond the Cusp