I will never forget it. As I was driving that early Jerusalem morning I noticed the roads were empty. Where was everyone at eight thirty in the morning? The air was clean and crisp and it was strangely quiet. No one was on the streets, no buses, trucks or taxis. What a breeze. If only it was like this all the time. Then it hit me that this must be what it feels like for someone driving their car early in the morning on Shabbat.
But it wasn’t Shabbat. It was Yom Ha’atzma’ut, Israel’s Independence Day, the 5th of Iyar. Everyone was sleeping. They were all up till the wee hours of the night celebrating. That’s why the roads were empty.
I remember those “all night” bonfires we would have on Yom Ha’atzma’ut thirty some odd years ago. Those great teen years, the good old ’70’s. I can still taste the potatoes and onions that we dug out from under the coals before the sun came up.
One day after all those years I finally went back to that field with the cave where we would spend those nights. I was met with disappointment. I found instead that someone had built a housing complex and a parking lot. No more field, no more cave. Just left with the memories.
I did three years in the army. I was in Lebanon before these precious kids who are in the army today were born. Buried my best friend. Gave them “the best years” of my life. Three good years, the best of friends, and truly many unforgettable moments. I wouldn’t give them back for anything.
The only things I have left from those years are the memories, a country to live in and my cracked army boots.
Traveled through Europe way back when, but didn’t make it to South America, New Zealand or India like they do today. Got married, have children and grandchildren. Can’t get enough of them.
I’ve changed over the years…we all do. Life sort of does it to you.
My father told me that before going off to World War II he proudly stated to his parents, “we are going to straighten out the mess your generation made”. Yes, he fought for four years. His theatre of war makes Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan all together look like a playground. Now look at the mess his generation left us!
Who is going to straighten things up now? Who is going to fix up our mess? One thing I know for sure is that I don’t think we can do it alone. Humanity hasn’t been able till now and I think we all may need the assistance of a Higher Authority.
Let me leave you with a thought.
The next time it is Shabbat/Saturday morning and you happen to notice how peaceful it all seems, consider this. I am home with my family and guests making kiddush over a cup of wine proclaiming an eternal deal that we the Jewish people made with God.
We will watch over Your Shabbat ….and You and Your Shabbat will watch over us.
That is definitely a memory worth cherishing.