It was four years ago that I first approached the Dead Sea. I had waited for Chana to leave the beach and return to our room before I took my dip so that I could go in slowly alone, and there wouldn’t be any ‘credible’ witnesses to my comical lack of fortitude.
I never really learned how to swim, and though the salt content of this body of water was so high it would – legend had it – allow even the most unskilled at the art of buoyancy to succeed, I guess there was part of me that wasn’t completely buying it. I thought perhaps I’d be the one exception – a footnote that would find its way into a geology textbook someday.
As a child I nearly drowned in a pool after being told that all I needed to do was kick my legs to stay afloat. It didn’t work. I let go of the side of the pool, and I kicked and kicked and kicked, but promptly descended directly to the bottom.
Until I met Chana, I was similarly skeptical about ever finding that one true love. I had indeed been in-love, but there was always something missing. Perhaps, I feared, I just didn’t have what it took.
Prior to making Aliyah, friends expressed a confidence that I would indeed find ”her” in Israel – that it was in Jerusalem where my destiny awaited. And, sure, part of me wanted to believe it, but I nonetheless remained unconvinced.
But Chana was different than anyone I had ever known. Though she was more religious than I, considerably younger and from another part of the world, after only a few weeks (and several incredible dates) I simply ”knew” her.
A few weeks later we had fallen in love.
As a couple we simply “worked”. She was warm, attractive and just plain decent – the most genuine and sincere person I had ever known. And, when she smiles – oh, when she smiles – it’s as if her soul is simply radiating joy. I had no doubts about who she was inside. There was no dark side artfully hidden beneath the surface.
In Chana I had finally met my beshert.
Yet, there was still a tiny part of me which held on to old notions – held hostage by that crippling fear that it couldn’t possibly be real, that my soul would somehow not abide by the immutable laws of pure love.
I slowly went into the mineral rich water. First, I just stood there, with the water covering only my feet, looking out towards the sea. I spent a few minutes enjoying the site of others around me confidently, effortlessly floating.
It took another 20 minutes before I finally summoned the courage to close my eyes and fall backwards. Miraculously, my body, indeed all of me, was gently resting on top of the water.
Though I was only in the Dead Sea for a few minutes, I no longer had any doubts.
Chana and I were married in the spring.