Monday, May 22, 2006

Shabbat in Tsfat:Trip to Israel part 4

“Ir ha madregot!” my son said as we schlepped all six bags of luggage up the seemingly never ending steps leading to my daughter’s apartment. “’City of steps’, you ain’t kidding.” I panted as I followed not so far behind. After a long three hour bus ride there still no immediate rest in site for me. No matter, I thought there will be time for that soon enough.

Tsfat is very quiet at night. It felt like we were the only ones there. I had never seen so many steps in my life. Every time I thought we had arrived at the top, there was another flight leading higher still. Finally we were there and got ourselves settled in. I fell into a completely contented sleep, happy to be with my children and happy to be in Israel. What could be better?

The next morning I woke at my usual early hour. I really thought I would have slept in but I felt no jet lag and was totally rested. I walked out onto the balcony of the apartment and there was a view of Mount Meron that was stunning! Bathed in billowy clouds it really took my breath away. We were so high in the mountains we sometimes looked down on the clouds. I was anxious to go explore and visit whatever there is to visit in Tsfat. Was I in for a treat!

Do you remember my blog about the “Bumble Bee People”? Well, family and friends I found them! They are all living on a beautiful mountain in an Old City with stones and stairs everywhere. Tsfat is like nothing I have ever seen or experienced in my life. I was totally home and at home. I have several friends in Tsfat and made many more. The beauty of it all is truly breathtaking.

Erev Shabbat was strange for me. Since I was not in my home and we had invitations for both meals there was nothing really for me to do. I felt somewhat off and useless not doing anything soI begged the girls to let me do something in the apartment. They seemed happy to have an Ima around and wanted me to feel like I was on vacation. Finally they let sweep and prepare the bathroom tissue; now I began to feel a little like I was at least preparing for Shabbat.

The girls and I got ourselves ready and we soon heard sirens going off. Earlier in the day there was a man driving around with a megaphone announcing candle lighting time and when the start of Shabbat was. Now with the sirens going off we knew Shabbat was soon here. “Sirens, guys!” yelled my daughter to the rest of her room mates. There was a mad scramble for last minute preparations and finally we were all gathered around the table to light the shabbat candles.

Since I was the mommy, the girls had me light first. After I said the bracha (blessing) I took such a breath in. My first Shabbat in Eretz Israel! How did this miracle happen? What could I say to my Abba now? How kind He is to me? How grateful I am for all He has done? Oy… I prayed for my beloved so far away and my children. I prayed for all my beloved friends who love me in spite of myself and asked HaKadosh Baruch Hu to please send us the Moshiach! I had to make this a good one since there was no interference at all with my prayers there!

Quite a few of the ladies in Tsfat attend shul on Friday nights and most of the girls do too. I was really excited about this as it was something I have always wanted to do but it is not the custom of the ladies back in my neighborhood to go Friday nights. That night we attended the Breslov shul. What can I say? It was truly an experience and not one to be missed. The tefilla there was highly intense. The ladies section was filled and downstairs by the men was packed! I was so excited. The tefilla was GORGEOUS and slow. I could not believe that I was actually able to pray with the kehilla. I was so used to my rushing and trying to keep up with the folks at home that I was going too fast for the congregation here! What a trip that was! Once I felt the rhythm I was able to just flow and enjoy. The men sang and danced after the services and it was such a joy to watch from the balcony. (I just love synagogues built like this, you can see everything and it is totally tznua::modest::)

After the service was done, we had dinner with friends of ours Moshe and Rochel. If you haven’t done, so please go visit my friends and their amazing website which is an absolute labor of love. He has so many articles and videos and shiurim there, you would stay quite busy for a very long time! I must tell you that this night was the first time we had actually met in person. I had been visiting Reb Moshe’s site for many years now and when I found I was going to be in Tsfat I knew I had to meet this special family. Like every other experience in Tsfat, our Friday night meal there was incredible. Rochel was a gentle and warm hostess who put us at ease immediately welcoming these four strangers into her home as if we were relatives she had not seen for a while. The Kiddush was beautiful, the meal was delicious and the torah we shared and that was given over was inspiring. We stayed until late, but it seemed we were there but minutes the time was so enjoyable.

Walking home I felt like I was on a cloud. Everything was so quiet the holiness permeated everything. There were no noises except for singing coming from some of the homes and some sounds of nature, utter kedusha. To be continued…

No comments: