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.