The ground on which u stand is holy” world renown archeologist and Israel Antiquities authority Eli Shukrun told us as we went down into a labyrinth of tunnels almost slipping on wet ancient stone steps that descended into darkness. He could not hide his excitement as he wiped his brow and rearranged his white straw hat looking back at us as he led the way carrying a torch light. Pails and pails of rubble piled neatly in a corner and suddenly a series of slots into the ground, a small almost tiny little area squared off with a solitary stone monument and a primitive olive press. Here the ritual of avoda of the first man to know God came to pass. “This is Temple Zero- the original standing stone from the time of Malkitzaddek, where Abraham came to worship Hashem – hidden for thousands of years- right here where we stand”. Maybe I had watched too many history channel exclusives on the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Great Wall of China because this monument looked almost like nothing! No gold, no silver, no stained glass…Looking closer in the almost dark I saw a tiny little room for an altar, a round stone for anointing with olive oil, some grooves cut into the ground, all of this positioned to face what later in history became the city of David on Mount Zion. Balmy in there, I lifted the vaporous scent. “From this we learn that true devotion is so simple”. Such a plain small and undecorated almost ordinary shrine. It was a learning experience. Hashem was in this place.
The Days of Awe are upon us now. Bringing into view a closer look at life, at ourselves, at history and to the coming stretch of time. This year has worn a different face for all of us. Last year at this time, we could not and would not have fathomed how the year played out. In this era of transhumanism and the ability to modify, actually life has been made more complex and complicated. Technology is grooming our opinions. Everyone wants to be famous. We can fly to Mars and know what’s happening in Jupiter. Tesla is making a flying car. Little kids are cyber savvy. I find myself saying thank you to a machine that made my Dr. appointment and for taking a liking to the personality of the voice in WAZE (she sounds SO NICE!). Jumping off the tower into knowing theories about stars and life, in a lot of ways it feels like we are on the drive up to Babel- bigger better higher and boom-crash- we all become vulnerable masked simple minded people looking to just not get sick and be able to get through this time. We are being humbled, friends. This is a time begging to simplify our lives.
Soon on Yom Kippur we will ask to be signed in the Book of Life. This special day takes us back to a tiny room where one Priest performed avoda behind a curtain in a simple work of awe. This is the day to remember we are nothing! Savor the pungent scent of smelling salts, savor the memory of this Yom Kippur. Hashem demands our cheshbone nefesh and the need for meaningful change and to come close to the earth, to a lower place in simple faith, into a new world order where you don’t have to prove yourself. The grape and olive ripen and the slant of the sun changes now into Autumn holidays of thankfulness. We turn now to the foundation of Zion and close a circle of time of her primal modest beginnings. I want to wish all our dear Friends a meaningful and easy fast with best wishes, love and blessings. Chatimah TOVA! Shabbat shalom, Leah