My teacher’s voice drones on, indistinguishable from the background buzz. My eyes glaze over and my mind makes its escape through the window.
Being that I’m the over-studious type, this ‘daydreaming’ really does not fit my style. But with the heavy atmosphere fogging up the Jerusalem air, it is hard to be in focus. Just this week alone, we have experienced heartbreak as a nation. Terror continues as more beautiful potential is stolen from the world…among them, Ezra Schwartz. Although my survival instincts have begun to force a certain numbness over the news of the continuous terror victims, this one hit home. A young boy, on his gap year in Israel, so full of life, so full of ideals and chessed… and while Facebook trends with ‘It could have been me’ photographs, I begin to fear that it could still be me.
So with all this ugliness misting my thoughts in a cold Hebrew U classroom, it is hard not to long for my home, my family, my sunny South Africa.
Then for some reason, I snap back for a few seconds, and I register what the topic of conversation is at hand.
“ואז רואים איך אברהם הולך עם יצחק בלי לדבר אחד עם השני, שתיקה לגמרי, בדרכם להר המוריה”
For those of you that have yet to make Aliyah and hence, are in need of a translation (stam, stam) it goes something like this: “And so, we see that Avraham walks with Yitschak, in total silence, on their way to Har Hamoria’’
Yes, we are talking about the Akaida. I cannot possibly count the number of times I have learnt this particular topic. The famous tenth and final test of Avraham. I know what Rashi, Rambam, and all their friends have to say regarding pretty much every phrase. But this time…. Something strange happens.
You see, while I am bored as many students are, spacing out in a university classroom as many students do, this university classroom happens to be in the world’s holiest country, holiest city, and built on a mountain with a fantastic view. And I’ve got a window seat.
So picture this: I’m sitting there, hearing his sentence, while I’m looking out the window…AT HAR HAMORIYA.
I am literally staring at the path and destination of these ancient words sketched on the parchment of Jewish history. I actually have to pinch myself for a second. My smile spreads out as a reflex, and the burden of thoughts lift. All is clear… The sentence that my Rosh Midrasha used to scream from time to time surfaces in my head: ‘WE ARE LIVING A PROPHECY’.
And yes, here I sit, the oldest text in history in front of me, the modern Jerusalem skyline surrounding me, like an impossibly beautiful fusion of old and new, and right there in sight…Har Habayit.
It is hard, Life in Israel is hard and it is heavy. But as I experience moments like these, little drops of gold to bottle up in my memory jar, I am once again assured of why I have chosen to live here. For better or for worse.