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Journey: A note before you return

This is an email I wrote my daughter before she returned from Israel. She spent an entire semester there as part of the NFTY EIE program

You can read more of her thoughts (and my responses) on Heather’s blog.


Prelude
The Kabalists tell us the story of creation through their mystical lens:

Hashem, infused in every molecule
spinning inside each atom and neutrino.
The first act of creation was to make the nothingness,
hanging holiness like lanterns to light the way.
The spherote shattered in a-dam/dirtperson’s first sin
Godliness spilling, blending, twisting, merging,
ruining the perfect havdallah

Premise
Our mission, which we accepted
mere moments ago
at Har Sinai
is to expose, uncover, unveil, unearth
the bits of blessedness
collect it to us
tuck it safely in the deep pockets of our nefesh
to be delivered at the end of our travels

Preparations
In these last hours and minutes,
remember that job,
the task you took on during that infinte moment
when God’s voice plucked at the strings of our soul,
Truth singing through you

I can’t explain how you could
Walk out in the morning’s first light
spread your arms, hands, fingers wide, like a net
collect the rays of sun.
I have no trick for catching the wind,
capturing it in your hair, your cloths
So that it will survive the 7,000 miles to us

So do this instead:
Before you go, walk barefoot across the ground.
Promise that no matter how clean you get,
Israel’s soil will remain between your toes.

During your break, ignore the doctor’s advice
go out without your hat
until you feel the tips of your ears heat from the sun
Promise that even after red fades to tan and eventually to peach,
You will always walk in Jerusalem’s light

If you can get back there,
walk once more to the Kotel
Rub your hands raw against the ancient stones
Promise that even after the scabs and scrapes fade
Holiness will be held in every handshake

Imprint Israel, make it part of every sense

Promises
I won’t say don’t cry.
What a waste that would be.

Cry for the joy of the gift you have received
Cry for those who didn’t live long enough to see the things
that became mundane to you, in the months you were there
Cry in frustration for the friendships that will fade
when the distance between you is more than a dorm room.
And cry for joy at the ones that won’t.

Water the Land with your tears.
Plant a seed fashioned from your soul
and marvel at what will grow
in holy soil.

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