Climb Every Mountain

It was about 7 months ago that I wrote an entry titled with a sound of music song, so I figured it was time for another! Israel just brings it out in me! Anyways, I am writing this as i have regained consciousness and hopefully gotten back into a normal sleeping schedule after the amazing holiday that is Shavuot.
For me, this Shavuot represented something different, special, unique. Shavuot completed my cycle of the shalosh Regalim, for which I was in Israel. That’s right, this year, i walked, actually on regel to the old city of Jerusalem on each of the 3 regalim. I walking down the streets, carrying myself, my prayers, my heart to the Temple. I walked down the streets that so many have walked before me. i walked towards the holy of holies. And the shalosh regalim will always have special meaning for me because of this. It is not that i think it is so special to be at the Kotel, and at the “temple”. Rather, for me what hits home is the act of walking and doing. I don’t’ get moved every time I go to the old city, in fact, I don’t’ really enjoy being at the Kotel, mostly because of the politics and the “idolization” the Kotel has in our lives today.
As I walked towards Robinson’s Arch or the “Masorti Kotel” at 4am with thousands of other people, I found myself moved by the symbolism. Here we are, thousands of years later, walking down the streets in the same direction my ancestors did. I closed my eyes after seeing the sea of people behind and ahead of me, and imagined what it might have been like. The streets loud with animals, the smell of the great BBQ happening on the Temple mount, the first fruits being brought into the Temple court yard. The ability to feel close to God.
Instead, i walked down the street at 4am to the call of the Mosques that surround the old city, they too were up early to pray. I walked down the street with my friends, with those who became my family this year, with tired eyes, but a joyous and full heart. The sky was an amazing array of blues, the stars bright and twinkly, there was even a shooting star. The evening and morning were perfect.
I did this walk 9 years ago, when I was here on TRY. I did the walk with my friend A, who also happens to be here with me this year studying to become a rabbi as well. We talked beforehand about what we remembered from that morning 9 years ago. The morning when we had to wear backpacks over our talitot, had to cover our heads from the buckets and dirty diapers being hurled at us. 9 years ago, we attended the egalitarian service in the Kotel plaza, where the police formed a human barrier around us, protecting us from those who didn’t then, and don’t now believe that we had a right to pray together. We talked about the feeling of holding the Torah as it was read from, the feeling of standing up for what I believe in. Then, I received the Torah with a sense of pride, with a sense of excitement and anticipation. This year, we had our own place, this year there was no conflict, this year, I stood there, ready to receive Torah in a new way.
This year, I stood at the southern wall, in a mixed group, staring up at this monstrous wall, staring up at the sky, trying to take in everything around me. This year, i climbed the mountain, I embraced the challenges of life in Israel, life in Jerusalem, and climbed towards my goal, becoming a better me, learning and embracing the experiences. This year, the gift of Torah for me has been the gift of finding myself while studying Torah. This year, the Torah came to life for me, the cycle of the year was all around me, staring me in the face from all sides.
As I learned through the night, as I taught about the receiving of the Torah, I received Torah of my own. I received Torah in my heart, I received a precious gift… I climbed the mountain, I survived my journey, I struggled, complained, doubted, believed, persevered and I made it! Two steps forward, one step back, here I go again…
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