This morning, as I left the Bnai Berak train station and began my two kilometer-long bike ride to work in Tel Aviv, I sensed a faint yet familiar smell. It was a smell that I hadn’t smelled for about a year, a smell familiar to me from previous springs in Israel. The smell stayed with me throughout my ride, and I found myself biking slower than usual, to stay in its presence for longer.
I was first introduced to the smell shortly after moving to Israel from the United States, while living near Gedera. It was spring and I took a deep breath after I stepped off a bus one evening at an intersection near my home. It was an intoxicating smell of flowers, but not overly exotic or flowery. A natural smell, one that filled my lungs with every breath. A smell that I wished I could bottle and save for those moments that I need a natural “high” to lift my spirits.
My wife coined the phrase “the good smell” to describe it. Although it took us a while to figure out what it was, we figured out that it was the smell of citrus orchards blossoming. The smell wafts distances, as today’s “good smell” wafted from the nearest citrus orchard, over a kilometer away.
Although I am not an avid perfume consumer, I occasionally find myself entering a perfume department in a department store or in a duty free shop. My sole intention in those visits is to find a smell which compares to the “good smell” or even reminds me of it. I have not yet been successful. The smell will remain elusive, a smell that can only be enjoyed for about a week every year only in certain locations.
I’m sure that I can find the good smell in other places in the world as well, but for me, the “good smell” is one of the many things that remind me how great it is to live in Israel. Last summer, Israel witnessed various social protests, highlighting difficult aspects of living in Israel, mainly relating to the high cost of living. Various politicians have already vowed to continue these protests throughout the coming summer.
At this time of year, when the people of Israel commemorate the Holocaust and celebrate the founding of the State of Israel, I prefer to focus on the positive, and cherish the good smells. When I look at life here in Israel, I see the personal freedoms that all citizens of Israel enjoy. I see the financial growth and the abundance that my grandparents who survived the concentration camps of the Holocaust could never have dreamed of. I use this time of year to stop, take a deep breath, and enjoy the many good smells that this great land has to offer.