I am blessed beyond belief to be taking my eldest son to Eretz Yisrael next week. This is a gift to him from the family, on the occasion of his recent barmitzvah. He has never been to Israel, and even though I have told him all I have experienced there, he has no idea what he is in for. There is just no way for him to conceive of it. Add to that the fact that he is missing school – its all around good stuff!! It is very hard for me to leave the other 3 behind – but they will be well cared for and they will PG get their chance to go with me at the time of their barmitzvahs.
Every time I think of taking him to the Kotel, I cry. I have not been there in so long, yet I strongly feel its pull. The feeling when you have passed through security there, and are standing in the forecourt – how can you describe that to a 13 year old? How can you put words on a presence that is other worldly? The only word I can even think of is magnetism.
Of course, me being me, I am not thrilled to have to be on the other side of the Kotel than him. I want to see what he sees, to feel what he feels, I want to be able to experience this with him, as if for the first time. Even though every time I go there I am deeply moved, I am sure that the feeling is never as strong as it was the first time. But I will see in his eyes what he feels, and sense it in my heart.
He has spent years learning about his land, his people, the Beit Hamikdash, and for him to put a “face” on the lessons will be amazing. For him, to stand against the Wall and daven will I am sure be a profoundly moving experience – one I hope he remembers for all time. To watch him lay Tefillin there will bring me a completeness that I have hoped for, an assurance that he is safe in the traditions of his ancestors.
I am also looking forward to have the chance to daven at the Kotel, to pour out my soul, my gratitude to G-d for bringing me to this point in my life. I am healthy and I am happy, I have 4 children who are the lights of my life and I am surrounded by the most wonderful community a person could hope for.
I have plenty of plans for daytrips etc when we are there, including, hopefully, a trip to Amukah (can’t hurt to pray for a shidduch there, right?), Tzfat, Chevron, Efrat and a bunch of other places. We have family to see that we haven’t either seen in years or ever, old friends to meet up with, new friends to make.
I guess one thing I am looking forward to is showing him Israel as it really is – not the tourist traps, but the way real people live. I want him to get a real sense of what it means to live in our homeland. I am not sure he can get that on a short trip, but at least it will be a start.
Now, I must start packing…..how many pairs of shoes do I need?