Your Tired Feet - Marijka Silberman, NYU Birthright Summer 2016
The bus is hot. The bus lurches along, and the landscape rushes by in dreamlike way - or maybe it’s the jetlag. You shake your head, try to reconcile which time zone, which country, which part of the bus you’re in. The bus lurches and the sun turns the bus into a steaming wok, thirty-nine dumplings getting steamed on day one in Israel. Lurch. The bus veers around an impossible turn in the road. You’re groggy. The bus is hot.
You’re shuffled out of the steaming bus, you stumble onto the stone street. This is Tzfat, you’re told. Up the stone street you plod, you stare at your tired feet, wonder about the last time you ate and then - you turn the corner. The mountain drops below you and small, beige houses trickle down the mountainside. Below you, the entire world is spread out. The green bleeding into fields of bronze, running into brown, rushing up against more mountains. And the sun pours down through the clouds which were previously determined to rain, but they forgot to rain and instead part and billow off.
You’re standing on the edge of the stone street, you’re feet are still tired, yet suddenly irrelevant. And looking out across the world spreading out beneath you, you breathe. Ah, you think, I get it now. Maybe it’s the sun and the way it casts a glow on the fields, maybe it’s the way the an buildings seem to blend into the mountainside they rise out of, maybe it’s Israel, maybe it’s the jetlag - but somehow it’s much easier to believe.
It’s hard to imagine God’s reach penetrating the gray skyscrapers of New York City and touching the urine-covered sidewalks. It’s hard to imagine any higher power amidst the wailing symphony of taxi horns and street vendors and the man in Madison Square Garden who sings poor Beatles covers. Is it really God’s will that the uptown R train is once again half an hour late?
But here the car horn symphonies are miles away. Here you are in Tzfat. And you are watching sun pour from behind a cloud onto the land that disappears into the horizon. And it starts to make sense, why we praise Israel, the land, in addition to God. And it starts to make sense why we praise anything, why we believe anything. And by now, you’ve completely forgotten how tired your feet are.