…because life for us has a higher meaning.”
This is what Yael and Malka told me today on the tayelt *(board walk) of Tel Aviv beach where I found them “learning” Torah at the sound of wave crushing beneath them.
They were reading so fast that I can barely pick-up different words from one another, let alone trying to understand the Hebrew. When I ask what they are reading about, they say it’s very complicated to explain with words other than quoting in Hebrew exactly from this book *(the Mesilat Yesharim, a sacred text from one of the main Rabbies Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto who lived in the 1700’s). But I want to know, I want to understand what makes them sit on a rock reading some philosophical Hebrew text and try to extrapolate the meaning of it in a sunny day in Tel Aviv when the thermometer reaches 32 Celsius and everyone around them is bathing in the cold water. What is this fire that burns within these “creatures” that makes them come especially from Jerusalem, where they go to school, “to study for the day closer to the sea” for a Torah test they will have tomorrow?
“Even when we are sad when something is going wrong, we find a reason to rejoice, because this means G-d is ‘trying’ us and making us stronger,” said Malka, which in biblical Hebrew it means Queen. “I am too ‘small of a person’ to explain you why there is an answer and a reason to everything we do and happens to us, I am learning this today. If you want to learn you must ask your questions to someone ‘with higher education.'”
I stare at them a bit challenged…I want to say what I believe. I search my words. I am quiet sure they are not going to like what I will say, but I am in Israel on purpose to understand “this world” to its deepest depths. I must discuss.
“I believe too that there is a higher meaning in this life and that we are all capable of controlling only part of what happens, the rest is somewhat unknown and uncontrollable, but this does not make me Orthodox. This does not make me enclosing my life and distance myself from the rest of the world because, I am a Jew and everyone else is a Goym or a Frum.
We were all created the same way, we may have different upbringing, but in the essence, we are all equal, made of same matter and if, once in a while, we pay attention to the inner-self, we would notice a stronger force outside of our material bodies. This this does not make us extremists of any religion what-so-ever, just humans with a “little bit of spirituality.”
Living in a world aside made of rules and regulations where G-d is the only reason for just about anything that ever happens to one another is a bubble-wrapping way of existing, yes…a simpler way of coming to terms with life’s biggest challenges, but ultimately, almost a falser one. Maybe a religious world is indeed a less-troubled world, one in which there is less sufferings, because there is less importance paid to such sufferings as part of a life’s path toward something ‘higher and more divine’ and not as part of some sort of punishment. But is this really living fully? Are you really happier than any secular Jew or non-Jew who has the choice of being what his/her core tells him to be?
They do not like my criticism.
“We respect your views, but we do not agree with your way,” Yael tells me while whispering something in Hebrew to Malka. “Leading the lives we lead, studying Torah is what is protecting us from anything. We are happier than you are because we do not just ‘wake-up, get dressed, go on with our days and go back to bed with no purpose to the day,’ our purpose, our life force is ‘davening to G-d asking him to help others become more aware of their own G-d.'”
Then “why,” I ask “if the bible protects us, why do we still have Iran building a nuclear weapon to be use against Israel and why do Syrian want to push the borders back? And why does my cousin have to fight for “your common land,” the one you live in while you sit and pray and believe that the power of the thought will move the enemies tanks on the Gaza strip!
I need to know what they think. I want to understand to what extend the power of human belief can go.
Theirs is unmovable. Theirs is admirable. Theirs is unchanging. Maybe because they are only 19 and untouched by life’s corruptive tricks. Or maybe because they are indeed “happier” and “higher” than us, they see further away, their depths of sensitivity and their many explanation of everything and everybody are indeed helping them through life’s challenges.
Is there a lesson at the end of this orthodox tunnel for me?
I am sure of it otherwise I would have never joined the tortuous journey.
Le ‘chaim to discordance. Le ‘chaim to dissonane. Le’ chaim to meeting my first orthodox women on the beach in “ah Buah.”