The Week in Malchut. A Journey’s End.
In 1974 I went to Israel and spent a year on two kibbutzim and a few months just outside of Tel Aviv. I thought I was going to immigrate to Israel but I left still lost but changed forever by being in the promised land. My journey has taken me back to the practice of Judaism. Back to Sinai. This year I counted the Omer. I have made this journey counting the Omer many times in the past decade. At times it has felt like leaving Israel…still lost but changed. This time it feels different. It has been a long journey, powerful, sad, joyous. I come out of the desert changed but ultimately I am still me. I will do what I do, which is to tell a story. Tell a story about the first time I traveled to the Promised land.
I landed at the Kibbutz Ashdod Yaakov Meuchad. The Kibbutz was a large farming community near the Jordanian border. I had signed up to be part of the Ulpan. Volunteers who worked the fields half day and studied Hebrew half day. Most of us volunteers worked in the Banana fields. Historically the land we were on was King Solomon’s plantation. The desert reclaimed the land hundreds of years ago. The Israelis were not deterred by this and with the use of drip irrigation had again taken back the land. We worked in the morning and had classes in the afternoon. There were two classes…the other class would work in the afternoon and study in the morning. We alternated weeks. We were young and had a lot of fun. Here is a picture of our Ulpan celebrating Halloween. With very little, we made the most of it.
After being on the Kibbutz for a month a few of us left the Kibbutz to take a short trip to Jerusalem. Three days. It was me, Jesse and a young girl named Sue. That morning we worked in the fields and after breakfast we headed out to Jerusalem. I had a grapefruit sitting by my bed on a small night stand, I ate it in the dark before I went into the field. There was no refrigeration and the fruit had turned. By the time we had gotten to the bus stop food poisoning had set in. The bus came at 11 am. I fell to my knees and puked as the bus arrived. “Stay or Go” I heard my friends say …I pulled myself up and made it to the bus. Put my backpack in the overhead rack, plopped into a seat near the front of the bus and then passed out, a sweaty mess, much to the dismay of the woman I was sitting next to.
I must have passed out for close to two hours. The driver had the radio playing. Broadcasting at the time was a pirate radio station coming from a boat in the Eastern Mediterranean off the coast of Israel. It was Avie Nathan’s “The Voice of Peace”. When I came to I saw a sign that said, “Bethlehem 10 Kilometers”, at that same moment the music I heard was the Band’s song “The Weight”. The opening line is, “Pulled into Nazareth, I was feeling about half past dead…” It was a moment of profound synchronicity. I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing with the people I was supposed to be with.
Whatever was going on with me at the time, Jerusalem cut through to my core. I believe it is the spiritual center of our world. That’s why it is so chaotic there. There was a vibration for me that I felt when I stood in the place where three great religions met in a space that size of a football field. There was so much I had yet to deal with. A year later, the death of a friend shook me and I was drawn back to Los Angeles. A long journey we seem to never finish.
Music has always been something that I have taken with me. I am glad to have counted the Omer with music. I hope you liked the playlist. Perhaps it opened your ears, I know it opened mine. I have a lot of music on my computer, enough to run a radio station. The final song for Malchut was found on my computer. I did a search using the word “awake” in iTunes. Mumford and Son’s “Awake My Soul”. It was on my computer but I had never heard it before. One more gift as this journey ends. May you find yourself at the foot of Sinai waiting for the shift. Love and blessings.
Playlist for the week
Day 43. Chesed in Malchut. Kissed by Nature by Elaine Elias
(This song found me via the radio. Observing the world, knowing “love is everywhere”.)
Day 44. Gevurah in Malchut. New Frontier by Donald Fagen
(Boundaries and borders have changed on the last leg of this journey.)
Day 45. Tiferet in Malchut. Loves the Only House by Martina McBride
(Reflections of our world which needs an open heart. This song sparks emotion in me.)
Day 46. Netzach in Malchut. Ball of Confusion by The Temptations
(Walking the Kingdom in today’s world. A song just as poignant today as when I heard it over 40 years ago.)
Day 47. Hod in Malchut. Going Home by The Rolling Stones
(A traveling song, over 11 minutes of Stones. The last part of the journey is harder to get to than you think. Almost home.)
Day 48. Yesod in Malchut. The Weight by The Band
(This week I remembered a story of the first time I was in Jerusalem. This song will always take me back to that road, that place, that time.)
Day 49. Malchut in Malchut. Awake My Soul by Mumford and Son
(This last song for the journey roots me to the tree of life. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of this journey. We are at Sinai.)
Zack Hoffman 2017