Settling with God

I wanted to write about the unique feeling in Israel that is the day before Yom Kippur. There is something in the air here, something that defies words. There is an explanation of sorts – anticipation. Yom Kippur is very much about settling with God. This is what I did with the last year you gave me, God; this is what I hope to do.

Last year, for the second one in a row, one of my children was married; a new daughter of my heart. My grandson grew bigger and stronger and learned to walk, to talk. He’s just amazingly adorable. My youngest child reached the age of bat mitzvah; that means this is the first time all of my children will be fasting. More to worry about, in many ways.

So many things I did; so many things I didn’t. So many people I made peace with; so many I didn’t. So many days of worry; so many days of joy.

On Twitter, Arabs are complaining about a closure being imposed on “Gaza and the West Bank” – it’s yet another lie, of course. What closure? That they are denied entry into Israel? Of course they are being denied – what would they do if they came here? All stores are closed in Israel on Yom Kippur; there is no public transportation. All work places (other then emergency services) are closed. There are no restaurants open, no supermarkets. No building is done.

The closure is on us. We do not drive – we stay in our homes, our synagogues, our communities. We shut out the world – and yes, they are part of the world, not our country. And what do we do? We think, we pray, we contemplate and we bargain with God.

Last year, I did this – I’ll try my best not to do it again. Last year, I didn’t do that, but this year, I’ll try harder to do it.

This year, as we go to the synagogues, as we go to God, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is going to the UN to speak. How incredibly ironic; how incredibly appropriate. He will rant about hatred and evil plots. We will sing and forget he exists. He is nothing to us. He boasts that his country has lasted for thousands of years while claiming that Israel has only existed for a few decades.

We can laugh at his lies, as we laugh about the Gaza lies. We know the truth. Our people have lasted through the millenia and we are strong today. Does Mahmoud not remember his ancestor, Haman?

Haman was hanged by his own king; Ahmandinejad will be hanged by Our King. What I love about Yom Kippur, and the day that precedes it, is that we are reminded that there are settlements to be made – not with Hamas, Obama, Ahmadinejad, but with God.

Yesterday, as I drove a new and old friend away from the airport towards Jerusalem, I deliberately took Route 443 that winds its way through the mountains. I pointed to the Arab villages and to the Jewish ones.

I explained when we crossed over the so-called “green line” and when we crossed over it again.

“Really,” she asked me, “what does the line mean?”

And I answered honestly – “absolutely nothing.”

Today in Israel, as every day, we are all settlers – we settle this land, tend to it, love it, nurture it and in turn, we are nurtured, we are tended. This is our land – where I live as much as any other part. Our true settlement comes from God and with God and part of why this land is so much at peace today, as I sit on my sunny, quiet balcony and write this, is because we know this.

I am not writing in the “extremist” sense, nor in the fundamentalist definition that requires such nonsense as rioting and rampaging. Rather, I write this with the sense of peace that is characteristic of our religion and our land. Yes, we may be on the brink of several war fronts but so long as we can glory in the land, so long as we know that nothing that Ahmadinejad will say at the UN compares to what we will say and do in the synagogues, it’s all good. Yehiye b’seder, as my friend Benji Lovitt (and the rest of Israel) says – it will be okay.

Gmar hatima tova – may the land and people of Israel be inscribed in the Book of Life for the year to come and may we know that God’s blessing is all we need in the days, months, and year to come.

About the Author
Paula R. Stern is CEO of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company in Israel. Her personal blog, A Soldier's Mother, has been running for more than 5 years. She lives in Maale Adumim with her husband and children, a dog, too many birds, and a desire to write her thoughts and dream of a trip to Italy, Scotland, and beyond.