Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Trip To Israel, Part 5


Sunday morning, we left the North to go visit and explore the many other lands Israel has to offer. We went 1st to the holy city of Tzfas, high in the mountains. Tzfas is an ancient city, with shuls and houses from many famous Kabalists and rabbis. We visited one shul (which legend has it that it was sent in a hurricane from Italy) where there is a Sefer Torah that when taken out not in its proper to time to read, the person dies within that year!!
Even the air is special. Our tour guide said that we should take a big whiff of the holy air when we got off the bus. I was in the back of the bus, so when I got off and walked behind the bus, I took a big long whiff. But it was right in the bus's exhaust!!!
Not cool.
Oh, and there are a ton of steps! We visited the art galleries and candle factory. I walked to the 'Tzfati headquarters'. We had lunch in a restaurant where the tables were sliding downhill! I went into the huge Breslov Shul.
Then we went down towards the ancient cemetery. First, of course, I took a ritual dip in the Arizal's mikveh. It says that anyone who toivels there won't die without first doing Tshuva. It wasn't as terribly cold as people said it might be. But then again, it was midday and in the summer.
I walked around the cemetery, seeing many famous kvarim, like Chana and her 7 sons, the Beis Yosef, the Ari, and R' Pinchas ben Yair. His is a large circular plot, with a big tree in the middle, surrounded by a low wall. Again, you are supposed to walk around it seven times, and say Kapitel Aleph, at least according to a a local walker I found.

Next we went on the road towards... Yerushalaim!!
I was so excited, and everyone was singing as we neared the city. Any song we knew with the word Yerushalaim in it- we sang it! We drove alongside an Egged bus for a while (egged does not mean vandalized. It's pronounced egg-ed) and these kids saw us waving to them, so we started a funny- faces/faces -pressed -up -against -the -glass war with them. Because we were tourists, our whole time in Israel we kept going up to random people, and asking to take their picture, or just high-fiving their kids, or randomly putting their little boys on our shoulders.
As we got closer to Yerushalaim, my heart was beating faster and faster. I was so giddy with excitement, it was hard to contain. I don't remember the last time I really felt that way.
Yerushalaim has a big new bridge that you cross under to enter the city. It looks like a giant splinter. Seriously.
We drove to the King Solomon Hotel. The rooms weren't the grandest, but the food was good. After dinner, we headed out, to walk towards the Old City, and of course- The Kosel.
We had circle time first (we do that a lot), and had an opening ceremony for Yerushalaim.
When we entered the old city, we started singing niggunim. Everyone we passed seemed surprised and amused. We were definitely making a scene. (But a good one.) But we didn't care. We had one goal in mind. We finally got to the last corner before we would be able to turn and see the Kosel. We singing Prazos Taishev Yerushalaim. I was so excited. I wish there was a better word than excited! I finally saw from the distance, the Kosel. But first we had to pass through security, which seemed like a splash of cold water for our enthusiasm. we continued singing, while standing impatiently in line for the metal detector. After we all finally got through (this one kid carries around like four pocket knives), Shloime G. started singing Yehi Ratzon, and we sang Sheyibaneh Beis HaMikdash as loudly as possible and with tons of Chayos, as we danced and marched our way down to the Kosel. We were only 40 guys, and there were hundreds of people there, but everyone turned to stop, stare, and clap with us as we made our way down.
I kissed the wall and pressed my palms and body up against it. It's hard to hug a wall. I put my note in a crack, and stared up at the holiest place we have. I couldn't help but think that it was smaller than I had assumed.
We had a guided tour under the Muslim houses, in the famous archaeological tunnels. Pretty amazing stuff.