I fear that some people who have anticipated my sharing “words of wisdom” from Israel might be disappointed, but my overwhelming feeling here is one of humility. I’m in a city where Torah knowledge flows in abundance and there are so many people with so much more understanding than I’ll ever achieve. There are also an even greater amount of people here who have first-hand experience with surviving several wars, enduring active terrorism, living with the dilemma of justice vs survival. Without discounting in any way my own knowledge of our tradition, my own life experiences of loss and fear, I feel like Gulliver in the land of Brobdingnag.
Arriving a few weeks ago, as I face returning to Seattle I see that my very specific plans and goals have, for the most part, been left unfinished if even begun at all. My certainty and agenda have been replaced with the wonderful realization that “I don’t know”.
One thing I’ve noticed over the years is the great synchronicity between life and Torah. I feel that I’ve participated in my own version of לך לך (Lech L’cha), the Torah portion read just this past Shabbat, where Avram is sent on a journey to the unknown, where all familiarity has disappeared, where he doesn’t even know his own true identity until it is finally bestowed upon him and he becomes Avraham. Even with a new personality and a clear mission, he still must discover what lies ahead.
There is a cultural cliché that if you ask an Israeli how to get somewhere, he’ll give you very definitive instructions whether he knows the answer or not. In a land where everyone seems to proceed with great certainty, my own experience, my own blessing, has been profound uncertainty.