A Celestial Promenade
By Yoel Nitzarim
At midday on a quiet Sabbath there was not anything to do other than take a walk. The heat was extreme to the point of personal disquietude. How could I stay in my apartment when the temperature inside was greater than that outside? I needed to breathe! With book in hand, I wended my way the four country blocks in the prostrating heat to a most enchanting walkway.
As I began descending the three spiraling flights of stairs to Jerusalem's Sherover Promenade, my attention was immediately attracted to the panoramic view before me.
Slowly, I commenced dancing with my queen, the Sabbath Queen, in my mind's eye; for she was present in this scene: the Temple Mount, East Jerusalem, Mount Scopus, and the country of Jordan. In our midst stood the majesty of the present-day Middle East garmented in a mix of regal architecture and impoverished living.
The sun overhead shining on the Dome of the Rock magnified the luxuriance of the foliage garnishing such a magnificent mental passage through the glorious annals of Jewish history embodied on Mount Moriah, the mountain where God tested Abraham when he was sent to sacrifice his son Isaac. Whose story would I be reading in this serene setting: the one in my book about the month of Elul, a commentary about the salient weekly passages; or the one set in Jerusalem stone facing directly before my eyes?
The sound of little voices also decorated my field of concentration. These angelic timbres sweetened an already idyllic landscape in which I found myself. There I sat on a wooden bench under a young olive tree replete with its fledgling green fruit. I inhaled to fill my lungs with the tenderness of the moment; I exhaled to remember that my life was only a portion of the mosaic created by God's creatures. How could I truly engage in a philosophical reading when laughter and giggling careened from every corner in this horn of plenty?
Soon the mothers would attend to their children; then the surreal innocence incarnated in their offspring would pass into the blessed past. Sparkling on every facet of this noontide, the daylight opened up a sea-like vista where little people made play, variegated birds warbled lovely melodies, greenery viably smelled redolent. The words on my page also danced to this extravaganza to my utter delight. Now since the mothers entered the stage, the entire dynamic transformed into a more real forum by which I could engage in the logic of ideas as contrasted with the imagination of divine countenance.
The two mothers sat down on a single bench some twenty meters parallel to my bench. They seemed to be talking to each other and doling out directions to their children. I wondered why they would bring such fragile commodities out into the heat of the day. Then I figured that the sun would be a nurturing medium for the children's well being as it was for every living entity. Interestingly, the rapport between mother and child became more animated as the time passed, peradventure a fulfillment of my theory. At last the two women stood up and little by little made their way to my spot in order to wish me a "Shabbat Shalom." Of course, I responded in like manner.
As the human sounds gradually dissolved into space, my senses gravitated toward otherworldly effects only to be distracted again by the greeting, "Halan" (Arabic for Hello). When I looked up upon receiving this unfamiliar word into my ken, I saw the smiling face of a maintenance man. My reaction took on certitude in the response, "Boker tov!"
His "hello" and my "good morning" afforded us a common ground so extraordinarily fitting for our meeting on this celestial promenade.
from the September-October 2004 Edition of the Jewish Magazine