Last December, I went to Israel for the first time. Over the past month, I have compiled my experiences there into a book. “Birthright 2012: A Voyage into the Heart and Soul of Israel” follows my spiritual growth as I physically journeyed through the land. For ten days, I travelled with 40 college students, 8 Israeli soldiers, a tour guide, and a Rabbi. Here is an excerpt from my newest adventure. Get your copy today!
“For 2,000 years our Jewish ancestors have prayed so that, one day, their children would return to this place,” he explained. “It is the city most-mentioned in the Torah; the oasis in the desert where Solomon built his temple and the capital of King David’s Empire. We travelled through Tiberias, the Holy City of Water; and explored Tsfat, the Holy City of Air. Hebron, which lies in the East, is the Holy City of Earth. Today, we find ourselves in Jerusalem, the most sacred hearth of them all—the Holy City of Fire.”
“What makes fire special?” the Rabbi asked. “What happens when you spark a match?” he continued. “When you use a candle, the wick begins to glow and an ember is born. This embryonic flame emanates heat and light,” he proceeded. “Such power can be used to create or destroy worlds. Fire is at the heart of Judaism because it does not lose strength when it is shared. In fact, the opposite process occurs.”
“Have you ever heard this saying—‘that joy shared is doubled, sorrow split is halved?’”, the Rabbi asked. “Fire, however, is not like joy. It is joy!” he whipped up a whirlwind. “When fire is shared, the light doubles and intensifies. It only takes one righteous flame to ignite a universe of dead-wicks! In Judaism, the human body is a shell of clay. Within that earthly husk there exists a spark of the divine—a soul or holy fire. As Jews we are commanded by the Torah to hone our spiritual energy through prayer; once we do, we must share that fire—the essence of G-d—with the world!”
“The Torah, too, is made of fire.” The Rabbi bellowed, “You might have heard me say this before, that the Torah is black fire on white fire. The Torah’s words, Hebrew text written in ink, compose the black fire. This black fire is all that we can see, all that we can decipher with what we already know.”
“‘Where’s the white fire?’ you might ask. The answer to that question lies in the parchment, the material on which the text is inscribed”, he explained. “The black fire, in fact, obscures the white fire.”
“What does this all mean?” the Rabbi concluded. “It means that we must cast aside earthly knowledge—the black fire that represents everything we already know—in order to comprehend the divine intellect—the distant white fire that represents everything unsaid.”
“Your great-grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather prayed to G-d so that, one day, you would tread on Jerusalem’s sacred ground. In 1948, a generation of Holocaust survivors fought valiantly to make those prayers a physical (if not metaphysical) reality,” he asserted. “Savor your time here,” he implored us. “While you’re in Jerusalem, remember their sacrifice. Harness your inner fire and use it to illuminate this dark, dark world. Follow the words of the late Henry Chaucer, who said that, if you become the person G-d meant you to be, you will set the world on fire. Jerusalem, the Fire manifest, is the place where heaven and earth meet. As you walk where G-d dwells, remember the importance of what is said and not said. Use this wisdom to find the light in your life.”