A Bruise between Oren’s Eyes

Rabbi Joshua Bolton
January 28, 2014
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On a windy and unsettlingly bright day in Yaffo, our little boy Oren, running wild and over-tired, tripped on the ancient stone plaza.

Sitting up, his forehead was black and blue – like Gorbechav and the Manson Family. We cradled and calmed him. We got him back in the stroller. We gave him a slice of pear.

The Land of Israel leaves marks on those who love her. We are wounded by her.

She is the Man/Angel who wrestles with Jacob, bruising his thigh. Once we have encountered her, we must walk differently in this world.

I was once with my father, zichrono livracha, in the city of Tiberias. I watched him trip over one of those short iron posts guarding pedestrians from the street’s traffic. Dad threw a loaded falafel into the air and ended up, himself, splayed-out on the asphalt.  He relished and loved this story.

I was once with my father at the Kotel, and a dove took a shit on his head.

The land plays tricks on those who are intimate with her.


How does one teach a longing for Zion?

How can we raise children and students whose hearts are “in the east” – while their bodies and lives are here, in the farthest flung outposts of “the west”?

There is a remnant of diaspora Jewry who have been blessed with a crazy, lovesick longing for the Land of Israel. Our turmoil is special and private.

But for the body of diaspora Jewry, how much unsettledness is desirable?

What is the legal requirement? How much longing and unsettledness must a Jew hold in her heart?

What amount of longing begins to make a Jew appear different?


Dear Oren,

Write your own relationship with The Land. I hope in your time her inhabitants will be blessed with more peace and security. And I hope you do not hold it against me that I took on so much debt, and dragged you through all those sleepless time zones in cramped airplanes – just in order to present you to the Land of Israel at this early age. And finally, I hope this bruise between your eyes is a blessing – that the land touched you, wounded you, placed an anchor inside you, which you’ll negotiate and come to terms with in your own, authentic way. Today, the bruise is fading. It is a beautiful blue, a techelet – the color of the sea, which is like the color of the sky, which is like the Kiseh HaKavod.


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