DANCING WITH MY SOUL IN THE HOLY LAND
Once again, my birthday has arrived. In reflecting on this dynamic year, I find I am living my life beyond my wildest imaginations. It was a challenging year, on a personal level, but I used those challenges to climb higher into Torah, like a cat climbing up a tall tree to catch a tasty bird. And, like the bird for the cat, I caught the sweet taste of the wisdom of Torah and enhanced the palate of my life experiences.
Honestly, I could never have dreamed of such a life of purity, simplicity and deep connectivity where Torah values radiate forth like the ever present sunshine available 95% of the year. Nine years in the Holy Land have honed and contoured every fiber of my being, creating a feeling of being an exquisite, multi-dimensional, multi-layered, vibrantly colored patchwork quilt. I have been pieced together from the words and deeds of righteous men and women throughout the generations up to today. I have been reshaped by the values embedded in the stories, prayers and acts of self sacrifice energetically present in the very air and soil of our Beloved Holy Land. I am living through the connection of biblical stories and I am creating my own story as well. I am part and parcel of the every day, ongoing story of the Jewish people in their Jewish homeland, the Land G-d, the Creator of the entire universe bequeathed to His beloved children. This understanding gives rise to A FEELING of “DANCING WITH MY SOUL”. I actually, tangibly feel the movement and the inner “SYMPHONY OF SPIRIT” and it is so extraordinary. It is a rare gift and I treasure its expression. I guess you could say that coming Home was the best present I ever gave myself and it is THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING!
Our souls inherently yearn for closeness to G-d and my soul, the real me, is feeling that closeness everyday in every way, because Eretz Yisroel is THE PLACE on earth where G-d’s presence is most revealed. Rabbenu Bachya states,”Eretz Yisrael is the spiritual center of the universe and better suited than any other land for growth in Torah and Avodat HaShem, the service of HaShem.” What Jew doesn’t want this — growth in Torah and growth in our Service of HaShem? Are you listening AM YISRAEL? You can live, ON LOCATION, in the site where the epic saga of the Jewish people unfolds and you can have a part in its continual rebirth!
One of my favorite prayers is “Yedid Nefesh.” The words of this prayer take my breath away and touch the deepest part of me. It speaks directly to this aspect of closeness to G-d. One of the verses reads in English, “Majestic, Beautiful, Radiance of the universe-my soul pines for your love. Please O G-d heal her now by showing her the pleasantness of Your radiance. Then she will be strengthened and healed and eternal gladness will be hers.” My personal translation expresses to me the deep longing of the soul (which pines for closeness to HaShem’s love) which is far away and longs to be shown the pleasantness of G-d’s Radiance, so it can be strengthened and healed and then eternal gladness will be hers. Coming home (making Aliyah) brings us close and in direct contact with HaShem’s Radiance through His extraordinary Divine Providence which I am witness to on a daily basis. Thus, I am no longer pining for G-d’s love because now I have an intimate relationship with Him and not a long distance one. I am consciously tapping into the pleasantness of G-d’s Majestic, Beautiful, Radiance and healing my soul. Our relationship takes on a new and deeper meaning. I have personally been strengthened and healed on a deep soul level and I feel the gladness of it and from the deepest part of me, I want the same for you….for our Holy Nation.
In Psalm 150, where it says, “Let all souls praise G-d”, the commentary in the Artscroll siddur says, “Far greater than the most sublime instrumental songs of praise is the song of the human soul. G-d’s greatest praise is the soul that utilizes its full potential in His service (Radak). I feel that since I arrived home, I am fulfilling my true potential and have actually only come into my full potential since making Aliyah. I wasn’t even aware of the precious talents lying dormant in my soul, awaiting an awakening and I have been awakened in a powerful, very real way. It is this heightened awareness that allows the music of my soul connection to be heard and from that music which fills me up, I feel as if I am “DANCING WITH MY SOUL” for finally, I am embracing my true essence in the Dance of Life.
So, I bless each of you to “Come on Home.” Join your family and your nation in our homeland and you too can DANCE WITH YOUR SOUL! You won’t be disappointed! Your soul will thank you and G-d will bless you!
Ariella Bracha Waldinger