Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Really only in Israel
It is evening. I am sitting meditating with a group of friends in a lovely apartment in Neve Tzedek, the first neighborhood built outside of Yaffo in the early years of the twentieth century, making it the nearest Tel Aviv has to an "old city".

During the day and the early evening its cafes are full of trendy youngsters; lovers of modern ballet can be seen on their way to Suzanne Dallal Center, to see the latest Bat Sheva creation. Later at night, it belongs to the colorful mixture of people who live there.

The sound of the meditation bell is followed by silence; eyes closed or semi-closed; breathing in, breathing out.

Suddenly a sharp, piercing sound fills the air around me, taking over my mind. Could it possibly be? Yom Kippur and Succot are far behind us. Still, the sound persists. Now it's growing louder. Someone is playing a shofar, outside, somewhere nearby. My face softens into a smile. The sharp calling of the shofar fills me, making me feel more aware, more alive.

And then, another sound. A man's voice, shouting out of a window. "Will you stop that? I can't stand it any more. It's been five years..." It seems the shofar is not helping everyone to reach inside themselves.

But the shofar continues to sing its unmelodic tune. It knows, and so does its player, that it is more powerful than its detractor, who is now silent. Maybe he has fallen under the spell of the irresistible shofar, like a child dancing merrily along behing the Pied Piper of Hamlin.

Soon yet another sound becomes audible, that of a fast darbouka beat. Reason tells me that the gay, repetitive rythm it produces should clash with the piercing shriek of the shofar. But strangely, both sounds complement each other. They both belong here, together, along with the whistle of the cheeky, early winter wind knocking at windows, pushing in doors.

Sitting quietly in the midst of the rush of sounds surrounding me, I am able to let go. In the turmoil, my previously troubled mind finds peace. I am home.