A few hours ago, I returned from Israel. We had the great merit of being in Jerusalem for several weeks, celebrating the wedding of two of our dear children. Besides the great happiness that we had as parents, we also enjoyed being in our beloved land, Israel, and more specifically in Jerusalem, Yerushalayim ‘ir haQodesh.
Israel is a land of miracles. Not only miracles of the past, in the days of our Kings and Prophets. Israel is a country where you also experience miracles today .”Identifying” a miracle is not easy .. it is easier to recognize a miracle when it already happened, than while it is actually happening to you. Our Sages said that “whoever experiences a miracle, can not identify it” (אין בעל הנס מכיר בניסו). There is a psychological barrier that says, “If it is happening to me, here and now, and I see it and I live it, it cannot be a miracle.” In the next lines we will try to overcome this barrier.
וישבתם לטח בארצכם
To begin with, the feeling of “security” that I felt in Israel, I did not feel it anywhere else in the world. Nor in the safest neighborhoods in New York, let alone in South America.
At night you can walk in the streets of Yerushalayim, and you do not feel insecure. The opposite, the Mamila shopping center or the old train station, which now is an area of luxurious restaurants, at 11 or 12 at night, is full of people, mostly families with their children and grandchildren, enjoying peacefully the cool summer breeze of Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem, and throughout Israel, one sees many people with guns. Probably in no city in the world you would see so many men, especially civilians, carrying weapons. And yet, I did not feel fear. On the contrary, I felt more secure. Because I trust the hands that hold these weapons. I can not imagine not having a panic attack at the sight of armed civilians walking freely in any other country in the world …
Personally, what surprises me most, is to see during the day very young children walking by themselves, very calmly and without fear. I have often seen a 6 or 7 years old child walking, or going up or down the bus, taking care of his or her little 4 or 5 years old brother or sister. I have lived in many countries and I never saw anything like it!
The most miraculous part of all this, is that this exceptional sense of security occurs ironically in the only country in the world whose existence is openly threatened. Israel is, literally, in the center of the Middle East, in the middle of the world’s most dangerous battlefield. Where every day hundreds, or thousands, of people are brutally murdered.
This sense of security is experienced in a country where our neighbors are our enemies … I remember in my first visit to Israel, our guide pointed to a construction site where all workers were Arabs. And he said, “When it comes to Israel, if you do not believe in miracles, you are not realistic. And here’s the proof: the same hands that want to destroy Israel, are building it”.
וקבצתי אתכם מכל העמים
And then, the most important part of Yerushalayim. The Kotel HaMa’arabí, the Western Wall. I like to pray at the Kotel on Friday night. Why the Kotel? Our rabbis said that although we no longer have the Bet haMiqdash, the Shekhina, a miraculous reflection of the Divine presence, still resides at the Kotel. Praying at the Kotel is praying as close as possible to HaShem. The closest to His dwelling pace. Experiencing in our souls an echo of His presence.
And what is special about praying at the Kotel on Friday night? Friday night you can experience the other miraculous dimension of the Kotel, the human dimension. Let me explain: we Jews, are unfortunately very divided: religious, non-religious; Sephardim, Ashkenazim; Hasidim, Mitnagdim; army, no army; 45% of Jews live in Israel, 55% outside of Israel; There are Yemenite Jews, Ethiopian, Russian, South American; They are Americans and there are the French jews (more present than ever). We are so different from each other. And usually you see the Hassidim with the Hassidim; soldiers with other soldiers; and the French with the French. Except on a Friday night at the Western Wall. When I finish my Tefila, I like looking at the Kotel from the balcony, and observe what is probably the biggest miracle of our times. Witness, with my privileged eyes what our prophets were able to visualize only in their most optimistic prophecies: the gathering of the exiles (qibbuts galuyot); the end of 20 centuries of separation and division that our people suffered in the diaspora. Because every Friday night at the Kotel you see literally all the people of Israel represented in this special place. All together, with one and same feeling in the heart, עם אחד בלב אחד. An incredible human rainbow where Yehudim of all colors and backgrounds pray, sing and dance “together.” And nothing and no one separates them. I know of no other place in the world, or any other time, where you can witness such a miracle. Where you can recognize this incredible miracle that easily.
May HaShem allow us to continue enjoying many years of peace, security and unity in Eretz Israel. And all of us, who are still living in our voluntary exile, may we all merit to live very soon our final redemption, בב”א