MOMENTUM DAY 7 PART I
Today we had an early start as we were off to Masada and then the Dead Sea.
We began with a lecture about ‘unity without uniformity’ delivered by Ruchi Koval. She spoke about the importance of focusing on what unites us, rather than on what separates us and to foster unconditional love between us.
In my mind, a new kind of unity. When we think of unity, we think likeness, commonality, and oneness. But can we look at unity in its truest form, without the need for uniformity? Can we instead replace the latter and anchor it in mutual responsibility?
At our core, we are all united. We all have the same basic needs. We all house a soul, a sliver of G-d. In fact, we ARE that sliver. We are automatically united by the mere fact that we are all here sharing our earthly journey at the same time. And this journey becomes that much more mutually enriching when we connect and create unity around our attributes, qualities, and values. When we focus on each other’s inner light and not shadow it by focusing on each other’s flaws. Flaws that for the most part, do not even lie at the core of any person. Most of which can be worked on and improved upon, thus making them superficial, to begin with.
After the lecture, we all went up to Masada by cable car. In the times of the Roman Empire, Masada was a Roman fortress. Following the destruction of the temple in the year 70 ACE, a Jewish group of a rebel (Sicarim) courageously overpowered the Romans at Masada. Not only did they courageously beat the Romans, but they also built up the fortress, with nothing other than the essentials of what a Jewish community requires: a Mikvah, synagogues, place of learning, and functional homes.
The view from Masada is beautiful, the landscape breathtaking. Though we did not go up there in the early hours of the morning, the sunset atop Masada is spectacular. And yet despite being surrounded by all this natural beauty, being up there felt a little bittersweet. It is hard to imagine Masada was once populated with Jews. It is even harder to imagine the unfortunate thinking that led to their tragic death. It is difficult to wrap one’s brain around such an act, one that is so counter-intuitive to our Jewish values.
Perhaps they wanted to spare themselves and their families a fate of hunger, slavery, torture, deep humiliation, promiscuity, excess, and ultimately death. All values are contrary to the Torah at its very core. In a way, it eerily sounds familiar. Historically, we had always fought for survival to the very bitter end. Even when it appeared there was no hope, such as during the Holocaust. It saddens me that in their mind, they believed they truly had no other option. And perhaps they didn’t.
What I do feel though is that regardless of the desperation they felt, WE are here today. The mere fact we are climbing Masada is a testament to our potential for eternity as a people; to the fact that we are the oldest nation in the world today, still standing strong and resilient.
Despite glitches along the way, we are, at the core of our collective essence, a people of faith, trust, and hope.
As we tour Israel and feel the energy of the land, the appetite for life of our Israeli brethren, their unwavering commitment to defending this country, the global contributions Israel has made to date, you can’t help but tap into its drive to thrive. A country 72 years young, built in large part by Holocaust survivors, is at the forefront of so much. It needs broad shoulders to continue to take its rightful place in the world. We need broad shoulders so that we never again subscribe to tragic thinking and unfortunate conclusions.
Just when I thought this trip could not get any better, be more inspiring and powerful, it was. As we continued to walk Masada, we came across a Sofer who was in the process of writing a Torah. I watched his hand as he drew the letters. Such a steady hand. Such focus. At one point, he lifted his head, looked right at me and asked for my name. I answered, he repeated it and then told me the next letter he was scribing would be for me. If you know anything about me, you know I love words. I always have words. Well, I had no words. I think I am still downloading the impact of this higher power moment. He also wrote my name with scribe’s ink on a paper for me to keep.
What a trip this has been full of higher power moments!
After Masada, we went down to the dead sea. The women literally floated on the water. For a lot of women, it was their first time experiencing such a novel sensation, one of sitting on the water:)
We now return to the hotel to prepare for a closing celebration. While there is still tomorrow, our last party with 300+ Momentum Women is tonight. We are getting ready for more food, meaningful celebration and lots and lots of dancing.
Stay tuned for more…
Montreal, QC, Canada