You know that feeling in the morning after the perfect cup coffee and hot shower did its magic and you feel like the day is fresher and brighter and nothing can stop you — well that’s the feeling I had when I made aliyah and the feeling I have every time I land in this country after having been abroad.
Maybe I’m delusional, but the sky seems brighter, the sun shinier, and my will to live so much stronger here. Therefore, I have trouble relating to people when they diss Israel or focus on the negative.
But then again are they really to blame?
Could it be that it is simply in our DNA to complain?
The Bible is replete with accounts of our ancestors complaining, despite the fact that G-d was clearly with them and performed numerous miracles on their behalf.
So is it fair for me to expect more from our people today when G-d’s presence is far from obvious to most people?
I think so and I’ll tell you why.
We’ve had thousands of years of Bible-learning, which is plenty of time for the message to seep in that the only thing complaining gets us is trouble.
Therefore, I started my own campaign on Facebook last Sunday, #Israelisawesome, to bring attention to the abundant good that exists in Israel in order to rectify the sin of the spies, which is the focus of this week’s Torah portion.
As the Jewish nation was about to conquer the land of Israel, 12 of their greatest leaders were sent to survey the land. Upon their return, ten of the leaders reported in such a negative way that it caused fear and dread among the people. The nation cried all night as they bemoaned their perceived demise. It was the ninth of Av and the beginning of a national mourning from which we have not yet recovered.
The time has come to replace our propensity for negativity with gratefulness and appreciation. G-d gave us a land that is unique, beautiful and indeed miraculous. I marvel at the abundance of wonders and gifts that G-d showers us with daily. The good in Israel far outweighs the “bad” and it is time to turn the conversation around.
I mentioned one thing that I appreciate about Israel every day this past week.
I deeply admire and thank all of our youth who devote precious years of their lives to our country by serving in either the IDF or Sherut Leumi. Without them, our country would crumble. They make me proud and inspire me daily.
It can get very hot in Israel (in more ways than one!)
Luckily there are countless beaches to enjoy that make our lives pleasant and enjoyable. I find them to be spiritually healing and only wish I had more time to enjoy each and every one!!
Things never came easy in Israel and although some think that is a bad thing it happens to be the secret behind Israeli success. Israelis had to make things work because oftentimes it was a “do or die” situation and since we know there is nothing more precious than life, do they did until they made things work.
This led Israelis to believe that with will and determination nothing is impossible. They, therefore, are known to be creative and successful in designing and developing inventions in many areas such as chemistry, physics, medicine, agriculture, optics, robotics, economics, biotechnology, computer science and more.
Today, as I am about to head off in my car, I’d like to express my appreciation for Mobileye which was created by two Israelis, Ziv Aviram and Amnon Shashua.
“Mobileye uses an artificial vision sensor to view the road ahead and warn drivers with real-time visual and audible alerts if a threat is detected. The system identifies other vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians, lane markings, and speed limit signs, providing vital time to react and potentially avoid or mitigate a collision.”
My driving alone warrants this invention and I believe the other cars and pedestrians on the road owe them some thanks as well!
One of my favorite places to go is Machane Yehuda. They sell just about everything including fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, fish, meat and cheeses, nuts, seeds and spices, wines and liquors, clothing, and housewares and more!
In and around the market are stands selling Israeli treats such as falafel, shawarma, kibbeh, kebab, shashlik, kanafeh, baklava, halva, zalabiya and fresh juices.
The shuk is now one of Jerusalem’s hottest places to spend a night out. It has hip restaurants, bars, and live music and the energy off da hook!
Was there today and can’t wait to go back.
Hiking is a favorite Israeli pastime.
This country has breathtaking mountains and intriguing caves that compel people to return time and again for further exploration or just plain fun.
Sometimes tucked between the mountains one will find magnificent waterfalls leading to soothing springs of water. Being able to cool down after hiking in the desert sun gives additional incentive for those who need it.
Ein Gedi is one of the most popular sites in Israel. It’s not just beautiful, fun and refreshing but it has biblical historic significance as well. David hid there when he fled from King Saul. It is not hard to understand how King David was inspired to compose everlasting songs of praise to G-d in places such as these.
I always get emotional as I enter the gates of the ancient walls that surround the Old City of Jerusalem.
The strong scent of past, present and future blending together fulfilling God’s promise is sweet and reassuring. As I head towards the Kotel and see children playing, soldiers walking around and tourists enjoying themselves I can’t help but feel immense joy.
My feet pick up speed as I get closer to Kotel. I feel like I’m about to be reunited with G-d, which is odd because I always felt that He was with me everywhere. When I finally get to the Kotel and place my fingers on the Wall I feel connected. I think about how many others have done the same with tears of joy and gratitude and then in prayer and supplication. I feel the pain of strangers as they cry out to G-d, some in loud belting cries, others in faint whispers and those who stand silently too distraught to speak. I cry together with them and hope that G-d will heal our pain.
And then when I must leave I press my lips against the wall. I take three steps back hoping they will lead to three steps forward — for all of us.
And now for day seven — Shabbat Kodesh — what can I say about Shabbat in Israel besides that it is a perfect time and the perfect place to unite with G-d — a day of peace and happiness that I dream will last forever.