Finland, the country of birth, is one of the most Northern areas in the world. The winters are long, cold and snowy, but life doesn’t stop when the roads are icy. That is something happening only in Jerusalem. As we know, when snow falls in Jerusalem, life stops; no schools, no buses, no nothing.
Some 23-24 years ago I remember driving on beautiful winter roads. The landscape was all white and the road dangerously icy. I had to get to work no matter how cold or how much snow had fallen. I was holding the steering wheel very tight, driving slowly.
While begging God to help me reach my destination, I started to picture myself somewhere else. I was in a country I had only visited ones, but travelled from the North to the South. I pictured myself in Israel. Something was calling in my soul. A little candle had been lit and it was burning more intense every day.
While in reality I was passing warning signs for moose crossing the road, I was on a green field, filled with red anemone flowers. I knew the rain of the winter months brings out spectacular display of wildflowers. I sat down on my knees in the field and just enjoyed the incredible scenery somewhere in the Judean hills. Somehow in my mind trip I soon found myself driving on the mountainous road up to Jerusalem. My Finnish soul was longing and praying for something so different, so unknown. Who was I to long for something that was not mine? The longing would not go away, it was a driving force. I was ready for a life changing move.
When recently reading a book about the holy Baal Shem Tov, I remembered my prayers of the 1990s. The book was telling about a Rabbi, Pinchas of Koretz in the 1700s. Koretz was a Russian city with about 6000 Jews before World War II. Of this man the Baal Shem Tov said: “A soul such as that of Rabbi Pinchas comes down to this world only once in 500 years.” What did this famous Chassidic Rabbi Pinchas say that caught my eyes in the book? He said: “Before praying, a person should picture himself being in the Land of Israel; the views and scenes, the seas, lakes and rivers and it’s Jewish inhabitants. This is how he will see how great is the power of these scenes to help his prayer.”
In retrospect, I did just that. I pictured myself in the country I now call my home. Abraham and Sarah were calling my name. No need to imagine from a distant place anymore, just to open my eyes and take in the scenes of Israel. No longing, only belonging. It is true what somebody said: “Follow your soul, it knows the way.” Shabbat Shalom!