Learning from Tremps

Image

After a weekend on the Yishuv, I had several options to get back to Jerusalem.  I could climb on a bus and join fifty other people and their kids, sad to leave the hills and Shabbat behind.  I could see if the family I had stayed with was heading into the city and join them. Or I could take a tremp.

I remember when a good friend of mine first taught me the rules.  Don’t talk on the phone. Don’t play music. Get out when you get to your stop.   To be on the safe side, all of my tremps were drivers coming out of the Yishuv I had just spent the weekend on.  They were usually either women or families.  

I loved coming back to Jerusalem in a tremp.  It was a peek into another person’s world. The music they listened to, the conversations I could have if they started speaking to me.   The connections I made all over the Shomron as I was driven through the mountains under the stars and toward my destination.

Now that I am in Chutz La Aretz and away from my home, I don’t take tremps anymore.  Not only is it dangerous, but it is also out of the question. No one driving out of my neighborhood will offer me a ride if I am heading elsewhere.  That is not in their mentality. They have their cars, they’re comfortable. I can get there myself.  

When did the American mentality become so me me me and less we we we?  Judaism teaches that we are all one, part of the greater whole of existence.  Perhaps that is why strangers were so willing to give me rides back to Jerusalem on those Saturday nights.  If we are here to connect, then surely we should have no problems offering rides to, if not strangers, at least acquaintances and friends who are in need of transport.  We were not put on this earth to acquire, but to give.  Perhaps America could take some cues from people who pick up strangers in cars.  You have 5 seats built in for a reason.

Exile, a poem

Image

 

How do you wake up a sleeping nation 

When it’s pillows are made of the finest silks

They sleep with the enemy

wrapped in luxury

shrouded in darkness

Chasing dreams that can’t bring them satisfaction

A Walk to Remember

Image

Jerusalem is hilly. It’s sidewalks are uneven and there is nothing intuitive about navigating it’s streets.

Jerusalem is the perfect walking city.

I have spent hours walking alone along it’s ancient roads, wandering the city and without fail finding something exciting going on along the way.

We, the Jewish nation, have been in Exile for thousands of years, and while on this earth it is our mission to continue working toward redemption.  In order to understand exile, The Baal Shem Tov used to create his own Galut. He would spend a  period of time traveling from place to place with nothing on him, encountering people who had no idea who he was, himself and G-d his only companions.  This practice used to be common among the Jewish Sages, but today it is barely used.  

The self-induced exile was used to bring the traveler closer to his essential self and closer to G-d.  When there is no family support system around you, you put your faith in G-d for support.  When you are traveling without possessions and without a reputation, you learn to trust your essential self and you see more clearly the desires of your soul.  

Rav Kook said “Your deep soul hides itself from consciousness. So you need to increase aloneness, elevation of thinking, penetration of thought, liberation of mind .”  Spending time alone is an essential step in realizing your true self.

A relationship takes work.  It takes time to connect with another.  Connecting with yourself is no different.  In order to understand who you really are, you must devote the time to listening to the desires that are so often ignored and drowned out by the sounds that seem to pervade every aspect of life.  Especially this month, Elul, the time for Teshuvah, getting to know your self, your soul, and it’s true desires is important if you want to actualize your potential.  So take a walk,  light a candle and sit in your room without disturbance, or take a long trip where no one knows your name. In order to really hear, you must turn off the other voices in your head and listen closely to the singular most important one: your own.