Tashlich at the Be’er
There isn’t a lot of water close to where we live, so many people go to the keli mikvah if they want to say tashlich on time. I prefer to wait, and say it by a larger body of water like I thought you’re supposed to. Amusingly, most years here in Israel I have been going to the lake at the Biblical Zoo; there are certainly enough fish to qualify, and the ocean is at least an hour’s drive. In the US, I used to go to different lakes, generally local and man-made. In terms of inspiring one with the awesomeness of G-d’s creation, local ponds are lower down on the scale. When I have managed to go to the ocean, that always knocked me out, because just standing there makes me realize how small I am, how big creation is, and how much my life is in G-d’s hands.
Yesterday, as the sun was going down and the light turned golden pink over the hills of Gush Etzion, I said tashlich at the smallest body of water I’ve ever been to for the purpose. There were no fish to speak of, but in terms of significance, it was the highest one yet.
I had taken my son to meet up with his class, who were gathering in a forest. It is just up the hill from the big circle of Tzomet Hagush, which was where I went in June to pray together with others in the area for the missing boys. This gathering place used to be a hilltop with nothing on it but trees, dirt, and an old building. The boys of the high school worked hard during the past summer and this fall, just before Rosh Hashanah, to clean it up, make walking paths, a playground, and a small be’er (well) of water, expressly for the purpose of people being able to go there to say tashlich this year. When we got there the place looked inhabited and fun, with boys lounging everywhere and music being played. While I was there saying tashlich, the boys were gathered together and speeches were started. What was said by our mayor struck a chord with me in particular. He said that they didn’t gather there because it was easier or cheaper than going somewhere else to say selichot, and it wasn’t conveniently close to home-that is, physically. But it is a place that is close to our hearts. The boys there built this area in memory of Gilad, Eyal and Naftali, the boys who were kidnapped and murdered last June. That is why, standing there, I felt the impact of not knowing what another hour will bring, much less tomorrow.
I would like to say I was amazed and touched by Racheli Frankel’s message for these holidays–she is truly an inspiration and I don’t know how she does it. You can see her inspiring video on Aish.com: http://www.aish.com/v/ho/Mother-of-Murdered-Israeli-Teen-A-Rosh-Hashanah-Message.html?s=show
I do not forget, in light of this recent tragedy, others who have given everything, and been taken from us in cowardly, dastardly terrorist acts. Even the rockets which killed our soldiers, along with a four-year old boy and others, were terror attacks. Just last night I went with my shul to Hevron, to say selichot at the cave of the Patriarchs.As we walked through the town, we passed a wall commemorating Shalhavet Pas, a nine-month-old infant who was shot in her stroller. I do not forget the Fogel family of Itamar, down to the three month-old baby whose house was invaded and they were murdered in their sleep one shabbos night. I remember these things and I tremble in fear. I also heard about a young mother who died suddenly, with no warning. People in my family are very sick, and I think of them as well and daven hard. We do not understand why any of these things happen, and I feel that all we can do is pray.
Tonight is Yom Kippur. We have already been judged; now our fate will be sealed.
Gmar Chatima Tova to all Am Yisrael, here and abroad. My thoughts are with you.