I am a Jerusalem-centric Jew. It started thirty years ago when I spent two years learning in yeshiva in Jerusalem’s Old City, and it continues to this day, as I visit Jerusalem a few times a week for work.
Never in our great grandparents’ wildest dreams could they have imagined that we would be able to live and raise our families in our own country, or be able to travel on any given day from practically any place on earth to Jerusalem and pray at the Western Wall (Kotel).
Jerusalem is so accessible, that it’s easy to take it for granted.
The Kotel. (Photo: Gedaliah Borvick)
With that in mind, I was blown away reading the blog of Adam and Rachel Hopkins, an exceptional couple who moved to Israel last year and settled in the small Negev town of Kfar Retamim, about fifteen miles south of Be’er Sheva. In their blog headingupwards.com, they share their awe and gratitude for so many things that we tend to ignore. Let me share with you Adam’s blog post describing his first-ever trip to Jerusalem, which took place a few weeks after making aliyah.
“Visiting Jerusalem has been a top priority for both of us. . . I myself have been preparing and thinking about visiting the Kotel for the first time with my oldest son ever since he was born. I was not so sure what I was going to feel. Was it going to be bigger than I expected? Smaller? . . . We walked in, and I was struck by silence. Yes, there were lots of people about. Praying. Talking. . . There must have been a lot of noise. But I heard none of it. For me, there was no sound. . . In an instant, I snapped out of it and swooped up my son. I grabbed him tight and cried.
“We made our way to the Wall. . . I found an open spot about three stones from the left-most part of the Wall. I leaned forward, kissed the cold smooth stone, and laid my head on the Wall as have millions of pilgrims before me. After some period of time, I walked away from the Wall and heard a minyan forming for Mincha. I jumped in and said Kaddish. A lot went through my brain and my heart in those moments. Honestly, I am not going to write too much more just because I would not know how to explain myself. Joy and sadness. Pride. Awe.”
The Old City's Jewish Quarter. (Photo: Gedaliah Borvick)
Adam’s stirring experience helped me realize how much we take for granted, and I instinctively felt compelled to make a mental list of all the blessings in my life that I tend to overlook: shalom bayit (family harmony), health, career, friendships, etc. It’s so simple to fall into “entitlement” mode and to forget that everything we receive is a gift and deserves our awareness and gratitude.
May the Almighty grant all of us a year of good health, happiness, peace, and fulfillment in all our endeavors. And may we, in turn, appreciate all the blessings that He bestows upon our families and our nation.
Gedaliah Borvick is the founder of My Israel Home (www.myisraelhome.com), a real estate agency focused on helping people from abroad buy and sell homes in Israel. To sign up for his monthly market updates, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.