The intensity shocks me each time anew, because isn’t time the antidote to pain?
Today is three weeks and two days of the Omer.
I know because we use our brand-new purple glue stick to put flowers on our handmade Har Sinai each morning.
The kids squabble over the privilege, but it’s an otherwise great way to start the day. Shiny glue, bright markers, eager fingers, and little minds calculating (Mommy, does a 1 and a 2 mean twelve?).
Today is also eight months, two weeks, and three days since we left Eretz Yisrael. I know because a piece of my heart remains there, or maybe all of it does. There’s a choking feeling that hits at the most unplanned times, a sudden wave of longing that rises as quickly as it falls. The intensity shocks me each time anew, because isn’t time the antidote to pain?
Yesterday, I watched the neighborhood boys drag wood across the yard. Odd planks, oversized crates, and an old chair were all fair game. I watched and watched, pushing back the dampness threatening my eyes, as my mind traveled to the boom bang BOOM! that I was so accustomed to hearing this time of year.
The flat grassy yards of Ohio couldn’t be more different than Yerushalayim’s cobblestones, and yet here too, the boys are at it, building, shouting, anticipating the blazing flame that unites us all.
They pass by my house again today, those boys. I watch, then fumble, opening the window to motion them over. We have a dresser, a clunker piece of furniture that we were graciously given but won’t ever need. Take it, I say, enjoy it, burn it, it’s all yours! The boys whoop and pile into the garage, admiring my unwanted dresser with so much glee it makes me laugh.
“Nu, take it,” I prod. “Burn it.”
At that, the boys turn, visibly perplexed. One boy takes the lead. “Burn it?” he repeats.
I freeze. “It’s not… Lag B’omer?” I ask, begging, yet knowing.
The boy hesitates, eyes darting from me to the precious wood. “We’re building a clubhouse,” he explains. “Can we still have it?”
They’re sweet and good, these boys, but — but…
“But boys in Yerushalayim build bonfires! Huge ones!” I sputter. “You know that? And they light them… and, and everyone comes to see!” I’m babbling now.
They know, they say. That somewhere, someplace, boys their age — half their age, even — are staking claim, pouring sweat and heart and endless energy into piles of fiery flame.
They prefer something lasting, it seems, not a fire that burns, then dies. They want something sturdy and timeless, something that will stand for a few months at the very least. A place to be, to live and enjoy.
They take the piece — 1,2, 3, lift! Together! — and I’m left to wonder.
Can you put a measure on eternity itself? How can you measure a blaze that unites us — man to man, man to himself, Heaven and earth and body and soul? Does there exist a measure big enough, deep enough, lasting enough for all Yerushalayim’s wonder and glory?
There is only one Yerushalayim. One day, you, too, will roar to life, aflame, blazing forth for all eternity. Until then, we wait, holding close to the sweetness of your memory, the sparks of your beauty pulling us forward — back to the place where we belong.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 792)
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