Devorah First
This moment, I am (trying to be) here.

A short thank you, for the ‘As you do’s’

Last year when I was in Israel, a friend and I spent Shabbos in Kiriyat Arba, a settlement right next to chevron.

There’s so much to say here, and lots of details to this story- b’siyata dishmaya we will keep it relatively brief whilst also giving over the special nature of this account.

It must’ve been about 5 o’clock Shabbos morning when there was a knock on our bedroom door. It was the oldest girl of the family, letting us know that we would be leaving in about fifteen minutes.

We mustered up the courage to get out of bed that early on Shabbos (!) and feeling somewhat a little nervous (those of you that know the full story will be laughing at this understatement- like I said, there’s a lot to say here) and began our walk to errm yeaah. Meares Hamachpela, to daven at the burial site of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As you do.

On a Shabbos morning in 2022.

As you do.

As the sun began to rise, and we continued the walk with our hosts- their children of all ages with their scooters in tow; there was a stillness, a quietness, a tranquility that only The Holy Land holds on its resting day. There was a slight taste of geulah during that walk. It tasted good.

After about an hour or so, we entered through a gate that began our walk through chevron itself – I looked ahead of me and saw a chayal, an Israeli soldier.
Shabbat Shalom” we said,-  he returned the greeting with an appreciative smile … and we continued on our way.

I looked ahead of me, and saw every hundred or so meter’s, stationed- was a soldier.
Soldier after soldier. I cant remember the number exactly, but we must have passed about thirty to forty chayalim until we arrived at the enclosed gate of the tomb.
Every turning, another we passed, and another, and another.
Shabbat Shalom“, “Todah Raba” we repeated again and again. Our appreciation only deepening the closer we got to our destination.

Politics aside, hashgafa aside. Park it all. For a few moments. Everyone will be ok.

Out of the hundreds of days I have spent in Eretz Yisrael over a number of years-  it was this experience, that the depth of my gratitude burst through every fibre of my being. The more precious, valuable and fragile something is- the more it needs protecting. I think the profundity of my experience that morning was rooted in this idea, which spans all of Eretz Yisrael.

The awareness of the soil my feet walked along, the precious ground that was meeting me underfoot, sits at the essence of our treasured nation, our collective soul.
That promise that was made to Am Yisraelyou and I- that we will return.

I just want to make this clear, I’m not one of these people that every step I take in Israel I’m like floating on kedushah. Im not. Its a work to see the good. It doesn’t come naturally to me. But this morning was significant, for my relationship with the land- which today on the fifth of  Iyar 5783, I feel it appropriate to thank the Master of the World, and hold space for the privilege it is to have whispered a prayer where our matirachs are buried, to book a flight on squeezy(easy)jet to Tel Aviv, to press my face against those cold stones where heaven meets earth, to watch a young boy, tzitzis blowing in the wind, skipping through the rova with his school bag on his back- living, absorbing and breathing our grandparents dream.

Brothers and sisters, we still have a way to go.
But the dawn is breaking.
We are returning.
To ourselves.
To Eretz Yisrael.
To the Ein Sof.
What a privilege to be a yid in 5783.
Stick around.

יְבָרֶכְךָ ה׳ מִצִּיּוֹן וּרְאֵה בְּטוּב יְרוּשָׁלִָם כֹּל יְמֵי חַיֶּיךָ: {ו} וּרְאֵה בָנִים לְבָנֶיךָ
שָׁלוֹם עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל: {תהלים קכח}

May Ha’Shem bless you from Zion, and may you gaze upon the goodness of Jerusalem, all the days of your life. And may you see children born to your children, peace upon Israel. {Psalms: 128:5,6}

About the Author
Debs currently lives in Manchester, England where she grew up. During the COVID pandemic, Debs had the privilege to spend time delving into teachings from our chassidic masters, and now feels passionately about sharing these delicious and life saving teachings with others, especially teenagers. Having spent last year in Israel working as a madricha in Neve Yerushalayim, she is back in the UK (for now) surfing the oftentimes stormy waves of life, and finishing her first book which she is working on, b'ezras Ha'Shem. Stay tuned!
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