Like perhaps many North Americans growing up in the 60’s I dreamed of one day being able to visit California, home of Jan and Dean and The Beach Boys ! London, home of the Kinks and the Yardbirds held a similar appeal as did Rome thanks to the film ‘Rome Adventure’.
Over the years I have visited some of these places and though they fascinated me at the time no place has had such an impact as Israel. Having closely followed the ’67 War and the excavations at Massada I felt connections to Israel on several fronts.
This fact was brought home recently when for several days I loaned my car to one of my visiting daughters and her family for their use. Over those days I turned to walking and found it relaxing, but extremely tiring.
It dawned on me how, though I am energized, I never feel tired when walking long distances in Israel. Even in the heat of August or the rains of February I walk everywhere and think nothing of walking from the Jaffa Gate to Har Herzl or from the Belz Synagogue to the mount of Olives in an afternoon. In Tel Aviv I once walked from the Jaffa Flea Market to the Eretz Israel Museum !
Is it because I am visiting and spending great sums of money on books and cd’s ? I think not ! Nor can it be the thrill of the new after so many visits.
Rather it stems I believe from an abiding love of the familiar and an energy which comes from simply being in Eretz Israel.
For some reason I find the same effect when reciting certain psalms which I have previously recited at the Kotel. This sense is noticeably lacking when reciting other Psalms.
I believe Israel really is a holy land and the presence of Hashem continues to strengthen and protect all who live there.