Wednesday morning, bright and
early... Oh wait, maybe it's Thursday... I will never get used to this!
Whatever morning it is, I'm landing in Melbourne, Australia, turning on my
phone to 753 texts and 140 missed calls from my parents to see if I've landed,
if I have my passport, making sure I kept my purse within eyesight the entire
flight, and of course the 17,000,000 whatsapp's just pictures from the family
chats. The stewardess makes an announcement about not getting up until the
seatbelt sign turns off, meanwhile the entire plane has departed and is by
baggage claim. I turn to get my bags, and I'm amazed by how much of a mess one
can make in 14 hrs, bottles, wrappers, gum, sandwiches, 1/2 eaten chicken from
the DELICIOUS kosher airplane meals!
I quietly grab my bags and run
off before the stewardess yells at me for the mess! I get to baggage claim and
my heart stops, I realize I haven't quadruple checked for my passport.
Frantically dumping out the contents of my bag by carousel 4, thinking the
whole time how I'm possibly going to make that phone call to my parents. I sift
through my toothbrush, wallet, face wipes, pancakes, headphones, charger, until
my hand brushes something leather and my heart starts beating at a normal pace
again. I start putting all my necessities back into my purse, when I hear the
loudspeaker go on, "Attention passengas frum fleight Q ninety fuw, yuw
carousel has changed frum numba fuw to numba sivin. Surry fuw the
inconvinience." Oh gosh! I frantically stuff the last few things
into my bag and venture off to find carousel "sivin" by the time I
get there most of the people have already gotten their bags. I stand on my
tipee toes looking over people's heads, walking the length of the carousel
trying to squeeze between people. Then I spot one of my 5 oversized suitcases!
I start chasing it up the carousel and finally I get a grip on it, I tug and
the handle rips... Only me!!! I find the other handle and give another tug,
this time I fly backwards and the suitcase falls on top of me! So
embarrassing!! There's other girls here who look like they are going to
seminary too, oh no now I've made a fool of myself...
Finally with all my luggage on
the carts, which by the way are free to use.. Take notes America! I head into
line for customs, I’m about to take a selfie with my luggage to send to the
family so they know I've got everything, when a huge woman come up next to me
and in a mean raspy voice yells, "NO PHONES BY CUSTOMS" I jump 10
feet in the air and my phone flies out of my hand, the screen shattering into a
million pieces. Shaking, I pick it up and put it away! No time to cry about it
now. As I'm waiting, I still haven't recovered from that traumatic experience,
I realize the line is moving so slowly! This line is longer than the flight
2,000 year later....
Finally I get closer to the front
and give a silent prayer to Hashem that the dogs won't smell the 30lbs of
American meat I have in one of the suitcases, I walk by security, give my
cutest smile and hand in my passport, the officer gives me a smile and lets me
through. Baruch Hashem, somethings going right for me today. After about 30
minutes of looking around the airport we all gather together and finally find
Rabbi T. The taxi pulls up and I get into the front seat, for a second I didn't
understand why the steering wheel was in front of me... until the taxi driver
comes and yells at me to get out of the driver’s seat! Understanding that this
is going to be an upside down year I climb into the wrong side of the car and
we drive off to the Ohel Chana dormitory, preparing for the best year of our
Much emphasis during these
first few weeks of school have been focused on the month of Elul, and
appropriately so, for in my experience, one often begins learning about Elul
just as it is nearing its end. We have learnt about how Elul can be considered
a place of refuge from the dark coarseness of the rest of the year, and how
that refuge can be used for optimum levels of Teshuva. We have learnt how our
Tefillos can be reached in the Depths of the Depths of Hashem when we reach
that optimum level of Teshuva where my depths call out for Hashem’s. But above
all else, we have learnt about how “the King is in the field”.
Now I understand that perhaps
this is not a great Chidush. That this is something we all have been lucky to
grow up knowing, but how often do we get the opportunity to truly KNOW it? How
often do we take advantage of what we are saying?
The King is in the field. He is
not in His throne room. He is not in His royal gardens. He is not in the
market. He is in the field.
This is a special type of
accessibility – one that still requires giving of self, albeit a minor one in
comparison of that of other months. If the king were in the Market, where
everyone would find themselves already, perhaps this availability of the King
could be unappreciated or abused. The King goes to the field, where the
common man still must go out in order to find Him, but once he makes that easy
trip, the King is completely accessible for any and all of his needs.
All of this has been understood
many times over, but the fact that the King is in the field means nothing if
WE, the people, do not reach out to Him. That is what we must take advantage of
for as long as possible! To make The King’s accessibility personal to us and
mean something so when we daven, or learn, or attempt any type of teshuva, we
understand that THIS is the time when we are really reaching the ears of
Hashem, and THIS is me going out to the field to find the King!
All of this becomes much more
meaningful when I think about it in the context of my beginning seminary. This
is a time, where we are being presented with a plethora of knowledge and wisdom
and self- understanding on a silver platter. But I still have to
be the one to go out and take it for myself! I can’t just sit and wait for all
of it to fall into place and subsequently affect my actions. If I want this
year to be real, I have to make it so! That is when maximum impact will occur. That
is when I can truly “meet the King”.
Wishing you all a Ksiva Vachasima
Tova and Gut Gebencht Yor!
(Here’s hoping I figure out this
whole walking upside down thing before Yom Tov….)