Tuesday, May 06, 2014

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Reflections on Israel Independence & Memorial Day

by Rachel Wheeler

Today I was at the post office at 11:00am when a long siren was heard announcing the opening of the memorial ceremonies for those who lost their lives in Israel wars and terrorist acts.

It was quiet.  Everybody in this little mall in the Katzrin (Golan Heights, Israel) commercial center was quiet. It was a quiet day. almost like Yom Kippur.

Living in Israel one is exposed on memorial day to a special low tune Israeli music (yes it does exist..) that is broadcast on the radios to articles, and interviews with family members of fallen soldiers, of bereaved mothers, of friends talking about their friends that they lost. It seems that time did not do anything, it didn’t change. They are remembered as if it happened yesterday.

Sitting quietly in the post office awaiting my turn in line, I thought that there is a special frequency in the air. With all the sadness and pain, there is something we do not see on an everyday basis. I could sense the deep unity, the spiritual sense that “we are one”, a sense that unfortunately was here very present in the material world in times of wars.

And then I thought that as much as some aspects of the Independence day have become loud and in many ways vulgar (see the names of some of the artists that were chosen to perform in cities like Beit Shemesh, etc.)  the Memorial day still has a very deep, authentic and quiet voice.

The thought that came to my mind was that it must have been like that at the time of Matan Torah, it was quiet there. Even a bird did not whistle….. I thought about the silence that will be present here, not as part of pain but as part of Geula. The Galut and Geula woven together.

An hour ago the fireworks were so loud (hopefully the Syrians do not interpret it in a different way), I was standing in my yard watching the sky above my house fill with fireworks and I was talking with a student on the phone. She heard the loud sounds and  asked what is actually the meaning of all the fireworks. I explained that besides just imitating the customs of others I think the root of the passion for fireworks is deep. “I think”, I said, “it is actually an unconscious  cry to be at AWE! A cry to be inspired. It is actually a cry for Redemption”... “for redemption”. She smiled.  (You know when someone is smiling on the phone.)

We hung up and I went back in my thoughts to Matan Torah (maybe because I am working on a workshop for women on the women of Shavuot). Back in Matan Torah, I smiled to myself,  we did have fireworks there. But the real ones (made by G-d).

Dawn of the sixth day of Sivan, in the year 2448 after the creation of the world.

Thunder and lightning rent the air, and the sound of the shofar was heard growing strangely louder and louder. All the people in the camp of Israel trembled.  Then all was quiet again. The air was very still. Not a sound was to be heard. No bird twittered, no donkey brayed, no ox lowed. Every living thing held its breath. Even the angels interrupted their heavenly praises. Everybody and everything kept silent . . . waiting.

Suddenly G-d's mighty words were heard from one corner of the earth to the other: Shmot Raba, chapter 29

Oh, may we all be unified as one in the coming of Geula

and we will hear the Shofar. Amen.

copyright & by Rachel Wheeler (רחל ווילר) – Lecturer, Writer, Consultant and Workshop Facilitator in the field of relationship and communication. Working with thousands of people both in the private and corporate sectors, including seminaries and rabbinical organizations. Rachel lives in the Golan Heights with her husband and son.  She can be contacted here.


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