Inspiration in a Garage
On Tu B’Av – the holiday of love – I was in a small Talpiot, Jerusalem alley lined with automobile repair shops, when I was invited to join a Mincha (afternoon prayer) service. The prayers took place in a tiny office behind one of the garages, filled with a quorum of mechanics, replete with oil-stained hands and grime under their fingernails. Some men had flowing beards and black velvet yarmulkes, others were clean shaven and sporting yarmulkes of all different sizes and colors, while others borrowed yarmulkes to wear during the service. These Jews from diverse backgrounds were bound together through their participation in a quiet and serious prayer service.
I was delighted to join this inspiring service, as the respect and acceptance between participants represented to me the pinnacle of what one should aspire to on the holiday of love. Observing a broad cross-section of people got me thinking about the language of our prayers. In the Amidah (standing) prayer, we state our requests in the plural form: we are part of the greater community and we therefore beseech the Almighty for both our private needs and the needs of the entire Jewish nation.
I then started thinking that the month of Elul, which begins the Teshuva (repentance) process, is just around the corner. The sages explain that the word Elul is an acronym for the sentence in Song of Songs, “Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li” – I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me. This phrase is often used to describe the love between a husband and wife. Similarly, the Jewish nation is wed to the Lord, and these words reflect our loving relationship and serve as an invitation for us to pray to our Beloved during this month when He makes Himself more accessible.
After experiencing such an elevating prayer service in a tiny garage office, perhaps “I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me” can be expanded to include the love that we must display towards all Jews. By exhibiting concern for others, we are emulating the affection that the Almighty has for all His children. By modeling God’s behavior, we become closer to Him and we are empowered to aspire higher during the Days of Awe - and throughout the year.
Wow, what an uplifting and thought-provoking prayer service! Moments of inspiration can truly occur anywhere and anytime in our little country, often when you least expect them.
Best wishes for a Shana Tova, a year filled with good health, happiness and peace.
Gedaliah Borvick is the founder of My Israel Home, a real estate agency focused on helping people from abroad buy and sell homes in Israel. To sign up for his monthly market updates, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit his blog at www.myisraelhome.com.