Today was the day of our annual Chanukah trip to Jerusalem. Because of various reasons we decided to cancel our usual Cahnukah weekend in Tzfat (please keep the people affected by the deadly fire in the northern region of Israel), and it was important to us that we go to Jerusalem on a day when my brother Chalin felt up to making the trip with us. Usually we take the train from TA, but decided to drive because it was easier with two young kids. This time we didn't plan on going to the Kotel (Western Wall), but had a great time shopping at the Shuk (Mahane Yehuda Market), enjoying a meal with my other brother's family and while the kids enjoyed quiet times in the afternoon, Chalin, Efi and I somehow ended up at the Kotel. It was far from candle lighting time, and while there was a crowd, we still had a chance to pray at the wall -- at the closest place possible to where the miracle of Chanukah actually took place.
While waiting for my turn I had all these amazing thoughts in my head, all the things I wanted to express gratitude about, things I wanted to ask, things I just wanted to share with G-d. But when I finally touched the wall, when I was standing there, at the holiest of places in the 21st century, all I could do was desperately ask, "G-d, are you there at all? Do you listen? Do you care? Do you even exist? G-d, my G-d, are you there?" Clutching a piece of paper in my fist, a prayer note from my friend Nathan I had been carrying with me for a few weeks in case I end up in Jerusalem, I couldn't imagine a lonelier moment in my life. All the doubts of the last 28, almost 29 years, accentuated by recent events, poured into that plea for answers.
My mind seemed to empty, and I was clumsily trying to find a crack to insert the note. I closed my eyes and several handwritten hebrew words flashed before my eyes. They were in my beloved Grandpa's handwriting, words, that I had never seen written by him.
שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad. Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.
Words I recite multiple times a day. Words that have given me an identity. Words that give comfort as they roll off my tongue. And words that just struck me with their power. Was it my subconscious responding to the mental need? Possible, but honestly it felt like a revelation: G-d pointing me towards an answer.
As I sit here and feel awe looking at the little flames proclaiming a miracle of G-d millenia ago, I cant help but feel sad about the forest fire that took so many lives. But I trust that G-d is in control. Yet I feel like that there is a responsibility of not leaving all the work up to him. We are His hands on this side of eternity. And we should use those hands.