Sunday, August 26, 2018

Mystical Energy in the Upper Galilee

Two of the four holy cities in Israel: Tzfat (Safed) and Tveria (Tiberias) are located, pretty close to each other, both in the Upper Galilee area of the northern part of the country. Tveria is on the western shore of Lake Kinneret; Tzfat a bit further to the north, up on the hills overlooking the lake.

There's a mystical atmosphere in both these ancient places which is very strongly felt in their old cemeteries where many venerated sages and tzadikim  are interred. During the last decade I've been visiting Tzfat old cemetery once a year , before the High Holidays, to pay my respects to the memory of  a specific tzadik and his wife whom I've had the privilege to meet in person. (I 've mentioned them in two or three previous posts).

graves of tzadikim (holy righteous people)

behind me, the shed with the couple's graves 

woman with iphone in corner inside shed; it got on my nerves

It's a very long way; heat from hell; proximity to the Golan Heights-Syria border  (red line on the map) where there are battles going on between Assad's army and the rebels; with Daesh, Iran, Hezbolla in the background, and the two 'biggies' America and Russia as cheerleaders.

Tiberias, Kinneret , Safed , Golan Heights  *

Not far from the cemetery - a regional hospital which among its usual duties to provide the locals with medical care, also gives humanitarian medical aid (to both battling parties so that not to ruin relations with either America or Russia). The hospital is quite heavily secured as it is on the 'black list' of some terrorist factors.

Last month (July), there were some minor earthquakes in the area with the epicenter in Lake Kinneret (The Sea of Galilee). Based on history and probability - a big earthquake is expected. When and how big, no one can tell. It could happen any day .

lake Kinneret (as seen on the way back from Tzfat)

I'm no young chick, so I've said to myself : ' That's it; not for me any more. Hopefully, God, and the late tzadik &wife , will forgive me for not coming'. 

Well, as the time approaches  I feel there are forces stronger than me that attract me like magnet. I also remind myself that I get to charge my energies there. Indeed, I come home exhaused, fall on the bed and sleep till noon. But then, next day when I wake up, as well as in the following days, and during the whole year I  feel highly energized - till next year pilgrimage. I've had my share of museums, galleries, shopping centers and the like; now,  I'm at a stage where I need Energy, to be able to go on with my life.  And this is good energy.

orthodox boys' school, Makor Chaim; path by, leads down to cemetery
(there's also a main entrance down along the street)

 orthodox guy , bus shelter ,on the main street near the cemetery

I like the way back, down the hill of Tzfat  as it gives me the chance to see from above, lake Kinneret ( the lowest fresh water lake in the world), in its blue splendor; and then at the foot of the hill the picturesque little town of Rosh Pina awaiting me to visit its mall and treat myself to a bite before getting on the bus back home.

Lake Kinneret - blue strip seen from above (enlarge photo!)

Rosh Pina Mall

Rosh-Pina - water fountain 
(compression socks -leg and knee- helpful for walking /climbing)

Sadly, things seem to be deteriorating: the woman sitting on the bench inside the shed, a place of prayer and meditation, and shamelessly using her i-phone; the red chairs left there after some ceremony (why red and not blue, the color used at graves of the sages?) The city is in bad hands, methinks.

* Web picture (map of Golan Heights)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

We Can?!

Next month we enter the jewish New Year ׂׂ(5779ׁ) The period of preparations (starting mid-August) for the High Holidays, creates an atmosphere that always puts me in a pensive mood.

The era we live in, is full of 'we can' slogans: we can change the climate/the world/the planet/the human race...if only we'll do this or that. 

Who's wePeople can hardly change a small personal bad habit like smoking, overeating, drugs, alcohol. It's sometimes incredible as even doctor's warnings won't do the trick.
So, where does this lack of humility come from? Bad education, I guess. The younger generations in particular are not fully aware of human limitations , and do a lot of 'we can'  talking, spreading empty slogans around. 

Climate change, is here to stay , and that's very frightening. True, we still have the islands, we still control fires and famine, but the emphasis is on the word 'still'. We're approaching the abyss slowly but steadily, and we're quite helpless.

Air pollution is frequently mentioned in connection with climate change. Indeed, we should be fighting pollution with all the means at our disposal. It won't be easy , but it's possible, and we have to do it for the sake of our health and the health of the planet.

However, in my humble opinion, air pollution is but a small factor in this whole issue of climate change. Climate is the domain of a higher power; most of us refer to it as God, others as  Universe, Supernatural power, Nature. We, people, cannot control climate, only the higher power can, and this power seems to be angry with us. Not without reason.

Humans, have always been involved  in violating the rules and order of  Creation (by way of war, migration, slavery, colonialism, imperialism...the list is long); thus, making endless changes to the world, but changes which are Not accepted by God, not written in His book, and therefore not solvable in case of conflict, but rather swept under the carpet waiting for a spark to ignite the big fire.  

We might be facing a world Reset in the future, When? No one knows .
We should  pray and ask for Mercy - that's all I can think of..

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Greatest Fear of All ..

Over the years, I've sometimes wondered about the fate of an 11 year old boy kidnapped by his father without his knowing at the time, that prior to  that, the father had already murdered  his (the boy's) mother and grandmother.

Only recently, twenty years later, the boy, now a 31-year veterinary doctor,  married man, and father of a child - has decided to open up on his traumatic story.
(I got to read only the written version, an exclusive interview; haven't watched yet the doco entitled 'Daddy where are my Mom and my Grandma?' created by the journalist - interviewer).

Both parents were scientists at the prestigious Weizmann Institute of Science in the town of Rechovot; they were not married,  but had a court parenthood agreement regarding the boy's  living with his mother and being on certain days at his father's place.

The police had no clue about the whereabouts of father and son. It was the kidnapped boy that finally provided the clue.
Whenever left alone in the hotel room in Bern, Switzerland (fugitive father being busy with getting passports) - he tried and succeeded to dial to the phone numbers of his mother/grandmother in Israel;  these unanswered phone calls were intercepted by the police and eventually led to the capture of the father.

At the trial, the child, still in trauma and tearful, was brought to give testimony , but he refused to do so in his father's presence; he was terrified and unable to face him. So the father had to be taken out of the room.

The young vet has still good reason to be afraid of his father. The latter (sentenced for life) might find a way to get a temporary leave from prison and try to meet "his  boy". So far, his repeated requests for such a leave have been rejected. But... one never knows. The interview, however, ends on an optimistic note.

Somehow, reading  between the lines, I got the feeling that the son's  greatest fear of all was ...genetics. 

We can never predict the right combination of genes that one inherits from mother and father, if at all. As a medical person and son of two scientists, he knows more than we do about that, and I suppose he's, naturally, worried if not for himself, then for his offspring.

They say (jokingly) about money that Money's not all, it's just the One thing.  Genetics, they say (seriously), is not the One thing that determines our future; Environment is also a factor and it can influence our genes and traits.  True, only no one seems to know the proper formula. (By the way, the father grew up in the best environment one could dream of - in one of the most rich and respectable families in the town of Rechovot).

Friday, August 3, 2018

The Fall of the Rock

It was breaking news a week ago: a huge, ancient stone (about 100 kg!!) had fallen from the Wailing Wall (Jerusalem Western Wall) in the mixed gender prayer area. It almost hit a 79- year old woman who was praying there.

Man looking over the divider at the women's praying section

This unusual matter is under investigation. The mayor of Jerusalem, the chief of police, the chief archeologist, the city engineer  and other professionals have arrived fast at the scene of the fallen stone (according to the Media).

men's section 

The fall of the rock  could have been  caused by natural erosion and/ or lack of proper engineering supervision  (I opt for the second possibility). 
The ultra-orthodox, claim this is a red light, a message of warning from God regarding the area of mixed gender prayer established after heavy pressure from the Reform leaders. 

The Reformists , claim the opposite; the message of warning is addressed to the orthodox who practice 'sinat chinam' (senseless hatred). On T'isha b' Av, 'sinat chinam' is  the main topic of discussion and prayer, as according to talmudic sages this is what led to the destruction of the first and second temple.

mother, girl, and baby coming from the Wall

I don't belong to any religious camp. I'm not for organized religion anyway.  I believe in God and pray to God  as my heart, thoughts, and traditional background guide me.

Having said that , the  detachment of the stone from the Wall cannot and does not leave anyone indifferent. It  came as a big surprise, at a specific timing (on Tisha b'Av, just a few hours after the fast of the mourners at the Wall ended), and in a specific place - the controversial temporary platform of no segregation between men and women, in use since about 2013.
So, all that makes one ponder....or, as the rabbi of the Western Wall has put it- 'this calls for soul-searching'. It certainly does.

*  (the above photos were taken during my visit there in December. See the post on the visit by typing 'Wall' in the search box).