A week’s vacation in the north of Israel, in the beauties of Galilee, makes one think. It’s not just beautiful…there must be something else. You can just feel it.
Is it holiness we feel, touring our Holy Land? Because it’s nothing like the Alps, or the Lake District, or the Colorado River. Everything is on a much smaller scale, the green is less green than in Europe, and the atmosphere – even if you find some islets of peace and quiet – is never too far from our stressful everyday life. Just a few kilometers in any direction, no matter where you are in this country, you can find yourself in some unsafe zone. That affects the people, too. Israelis are hot tempered usually, and if it’s not the weather, it’s probably because we’re at some kind of war – every given second…
So what is there, in that country, which makes it (and this year’s trip more than ever) so beautiful in my mind?
I remember years when I just yearned for the green of other countries, as I’ve seen it in photos. My trip to the UK after Army Service, was indeed a dream come true. I was not religious back then, and coming back to Israel I really felt misplaced – so much have I enjoyed my trip abroad. The worst part of it was coming back to the people here, my people. In England I’ve found calm, polite people, with a mentality which was nothing near our mid-eastern mentality, living what seemed like a really serene life in their ravishing English country side. I became quite anti-Semitic, so to speak, and that’s really not politically correct, especially if you’re Jewish!
Making Teshuvah (becoming religiously observant) somehow changed it all. I began to see the beauty of Israel – the Land and its people. It became for me, eventually, prettier than any Swiss scenery. As you connect to the Torah, to understanding what is Israel, and what’s the meaning of Judaism, you begin to see things differently. My urge to fly away from here, was greatly diminished, though I still (to this day) appreciate the view of beautiful sights from all around the world. But I began appreciating the special combination of sceneries we have here in Israel, too.
In regards to scenery, it’s actually quite extraordinary, what we have here. You could switch, driving around in Israel, from European to desert views in a few hours’ or even minutes’ drive. Why, here in our beloved Jerusalem, from tree-clad Greek like mountains to yellow Judean-Desert hills is really a matter of ten minutes.
I seem to like our sceneries more and more over the years. Actually, I’ve become quite dependent on them. How can I pass more than a few months’ time without glimpsing the lake of Kinneret…? It’s nothing like Lake Geneva, I know, but I just get crazed out, if too much time elapses between blue and blue!
Anyway, it fills our reserves of energy, like the Shabbat does at every weekend. Only this has to last a year – until next summer.
Up in the north, we had some wild-life surprises too…
Two swallows nested just above our flat’s entrance-door, one guarding each side, from up above.
We thought at first that they were little statuettes. Then we noticed a slight movement of the head by one of them.
In our Northern Jordan-River excursion we met from up close a nutria (a kind of river-rat) who posed before us without fleeing. The children just loved it!
Mount Tabor’s open view into the surrounding vales…
Staying at our favorite rented house in the little town of Migdal, just above the Kinneret…I can’t explain it, but I just love the yellow blue green colors of that part of the Galilee…tried to take a picture of it, but I don’t think it really comes out. Or, does it?
And right before us, the cliffs of the Arbel Mountain
But with me go always, (kind of pop-ups in my brain CPU) visions of river Banias, in that terrific spot called the Eucalyptus Camp Site.
It’s hard to go back home, and soon – back to work too, at the end of summer vacations. We really had a great time – all of us! It’s also hard to say goodbye to the colors of the Galilee – even though we really love Jerusalem. But in recent years I’ve noticed how much I can take away and keep with me – in my heart, even when I’m no longer there. I find I can just shut my eyes see my favorite places, quite clearly. Sometimes (usually not long after we’re back) even without my intention I’m “transported” there – and I like it! I don’t know if you understand – it’s not like I’m mourning not being there or anything, and I begin hallucinating. It’s just that I carry inside me, a kind of treasure that I can tap into, or stumble upon accidentally, which I take away with me from there. The Baal Shem-Tov (The Besh”t), founder of the Hassidic movement, used to say: Where a person’s mind is, that is where he really is. So if my mind’s there – I’m really there! Or almost…just until next year, with G-d’s help!