The Real Reality

With many boys and girls returning to America after their year of transformation in Israel, I would like to share a poem I wrote a few years back expressing my deep frustration at the attitude of some American Jews toward the nature of life in the Holy Land.

It was inevitable, really

only a matter of time before those words

peeked from behind someone’s wry smile and

jumped eagerly out

at my indignant ears.

Yup, there they were

hanging

stinging

“Welcome back to reality.”

Welcome back to reality.

As if the past four years spent studying Torah

in the Land of our Fathers

soaking up every inch of Judaism

held in its deep blue sky and

cobblestone alleys

had taken place in some dreamy pink bubble

or maybe it was purple

which had softly floated up, all smiles, naive and unawares

toward the unforgiving ceiling of “reality”

until it popped and rained down

a million colorful droplets

of all that is inconsequential

and fake

and childish,

landing me here

tightly clutching the handle of my shopping cart

in this New York supermarket

confused and longing for Home.

As if all the experiences

the sights and smells

of a vibrant world

the mistakes that taught me so much

and wild successes that lifted me beyond my limits

all those glimpses of Godliness

and what is everlasting and true

the inner transformation

that changed my life

are relegated to an alternate and trivial existence

since it all happened

in so far away a place

where they don’t even watch the Superbowl

among people whose heads are

so very much in the clouds

that they could care less about living in

a big beautiful house

with too many rooms

or about driving the fastest car

of which there will be a yet faster model

next month

though the speed limit

won’t ever change.

As if either of us were familiar enough with that word

“reality”

to confer it upon this or that experience.

But from my vantage point of

a dual perspective

having been both physically born in your American reality

and spiritually raised in that of my Jewish perception

I have this to say.

It is my firm belief,

that one day,

very soon

my faraway Land of sponga sticks and bagged milk

of burning hot summers and bone-chilling winters

of wise mountains and sensible valleys

that vacation place of spiritual intensity

where each street beggar is

a prophet

where Judaism is displayed on the table

instead of swept under the rug

will expand

and spread

to devour

and transform

to infuse every last vestige of this uninspired

“reality”

with its inherent holiness and

soft grace.

And when that day comes

I will smile

and welcome you,

wholeheartedly,

to my dreamy pink bubble

or was it purple?

and I will say

“Welcome to the real reality”

Yaakov Klein is the author of Sparks from Berditchov: An Inspirational Guide to Avodas Hashem recently released by Feldheim publishers. His essays on a broad range of Torah thought have been featured in print and on the web. Originally from Far Rockaway, New York, Yaakov currently lives in Chicago with his wife Shira, where he teaches for the Illinois Center for Jewish Studies and writes a column for the Chicago Jewishh Home. Dedications are currently avaliable for his next book, “Sunlight of Redemption” on the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. For original inspirational content, or to contact Yaakov, like his Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/sparksfromberditchov/. Many of Yaakov’s other writings on the web live here: https://medium.com/@sparksfromberditchov.

About the Author
Yaakov Klein is the author of Sparks from Berditchov: An Inspirational Guide to Avodas Hashem. His next book, Sunlight of Redemption: An Illuminated Path toward Inner Freedom, will be in stores this coming January. Yaakov lives in Yerushalayim with his wife, Shira, where he studies Torah, writes a bi-weekly column for the Chicago Jewish Home, and produces music.
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