Thursday, August 11, 2016


Reflections from my trip to Israel

I just returned from a very special trip with my 12 year old daughter to Israel. For those of you with more then one child, you know it's highly unusual to spend so much time with one child. We did some touring, visiting holy sites, workshops and just relaxing in Jerusalem. We bumped into many friends and made a whole lot more friends as well. We got to meet some of my mother's new family, which was really nice, and I introduced Chava to quite a few great aunts, uncles, and cousins too. Israel is a unique experience. It seems like there are equal amounts of tourists and Israelis. You see the same people over and over again. The tourists are all so excited to be there and share their experiences with other tourists. The locals are different. They have made great sacrifice to live in our homeland. They have lost friends and family, yet they have not lost hope or the ability to love. They are my heroes, and I pray daily for their safety and well being. 
There were a few things that took me by surprise. First of all, I don't love food as much as I used to. It doesn't bring me comfort and I can eat at the same place every day and not care. It's just food. This is good and bad news. Good because if it doesn't matter, then eating healthy should not be hard. Bad because I think it's important to have things that bring us comfort, and whether it's a chocolate or a friend, when something brings you comfort you should hold on to it for dear life. Jerusalem is a comfort to me. I can sit by the Kotel all day. I don't have to say anything, yet being there comforts me. G-D is silent, my husband is silent, and I can sit here silently too. Maybe if I sit long enough I will be able to hear something. 
While going to pray at Kever Rochel (grave of our matriarch Rachel) and the cave of the doubles in Chevron, where the rest of our Matriarchs, Patriarchs and Adam and Chava are buried, I found myself dry. Nothing like the last time I was there with Yitzi at the beginning of his sickness. It's not that I don't care as much, or don't believe as much, and I can't be sure what it is but of course I have my theories. We have to survive, and in order to do that, we have to find ways to be ok with our lives. It's hard to live in the past or in a hopeful future, when we are very much in the present. It takes a whole lot of energy to be here. There is a conscious effort to not spend a whole lot of time remembering how good it was and how good it will hopefully be again. It would be too easy to get lost there and be shocked all over again once our eyes are open. So we find ways to be ok and this becomes our normal. We look for the good within our situation and try to focus on that. There is also a possibility that praying for the same thing for the last 3 1/2 years, looses some of its intensity. Yet we daven every day for Moshiach and believe he will come each and every day. So this theory is not as strong as the first one. Whatever the case may be, there were two times when we could not hold back our emotions. We went through the Arab quarter and came to some steps where we could see Har Habayit, the Temple Mount. Only Muslims are allowed there and there are cops making sure of that. My soul has never been so angry before. The longing to be at the holiest site and the fact that we cannot go, was so unbearable. I just stared and cried. To be so close and so far. To be staring at exile in the face while watching those who have no business there, free to come and go as they please. It was a very new sensation for me, and in the days before the 9th of AV, an appropriate one. 
The second time was when we went to visit the grave of Chaya Spalter. She is buried on Mt. Olives and has the most magnificent view. There is nothing natural about praying at the grave of a child, and not just any child, our very special friend and neighbor. 
My daughter has been telling me every day for the last seven months that she needs to go to Israel. When I asked her where she needs to go there, she told me only two places. The Kotel (western wall) and to visit Chaya Spalter. I asked her what she wanted to say and she told me its private, but that she said what she needed to. 
Even though we have figured out a way to survive in our lives, it's good to have reminders that this is not an acceptable way to live. It can and will be so much better. We need to remember daily that as free as we are, we cannot walk up a few steps in our own land.  We are still burying children and many others far too early, and that is unacceptable. This world is surviving, but compared to what it could be, we are barely living. I suppose I'm glad for the reminders. This is not nearly enough, we need so much more. 


  1. Thank you for being so open, while sharing your deepest thoughts and feelings. May we all be blessed with the coming of Moshiach, please G-d, soon. Good Shabbos to you and your beautiful, inspiring family.

  2. Thank you for this. May Hashem bless us all with the Geula bekorov mamash .

  3. Respected Rabbinical authorities deem it inappropriate for Jews to go up to Har HaBayit while we are in this state of Golus.

    I think of how the group calling themselves Women of the Wall act disrespectfully at the Kotel. Even if just for that small group, the rest of us are banded from going, I think it is appropriate that we refrain from going up to the Har HaBayit. Har HaBayit is just too Holy for the state of Am Yisroel at this time of Golus.

    Boruch Hashem we have Holy places to walk, to meditate and to Daven.
    Our time for the Har HaBayit will come.

    As for the Muslims going there. If not us, then let it be the Muslims. The women are modest. And Muslims do not worship idols.

    Now for the real reason I willingly accept that we cannot go up to the Har HaBayit: because of the Rebbe. The Rebbe stresses building the Beis HaMikdosh with Moshiach more than anyone ever has. He urges us to learn the laws of the Beis HaMikdosh on Har HaBayit. The Rebbe has not forsaken the Har HaBayit... but, to my knowledge, the Rebbe does not encourage going up to the Har HaBayit.

    The Har HaBayit and Maaras HaMachpela were liberated together. The Rebbe was relentless about going to the Maara and settling in Hevron. All the Chabad Rebbes spoke about Hevron. The Mittler Rebbe encouraged his Chassidim to move from Yerushalaim to Hevron. If the Rebbe wants us on Har HaBayit he would encourage that as well. But his focus is Hevron and the Maara.

    May the day come soon when we will ascend the Har HaBayit with the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach.

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  4. I am aware that it is not our custom to go. It did not make the longing any less. The feeling of sadness and frustration was about not being able to go. For both reasons. This is the house of G-D, and both He and us, his people, have been exiled from there.

    1. Well said.
      May you soon be comforted.
      With Moshiach Now.
      Shabbat Shalom, Tzom Kal

  5. I was part of a group that read eicha by those steps leading to the closed gates that you refer to. It is truely the "best" place to read eicha. to peak through the crack between the doors and see the place that we are longing to enter is extremely painful. We sang songs of yearning together in front of those closed gates. By the end, the crack between the gates became a little wider.

    1. That must have been a most meaningful Tisha B'Av.