These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

the layers come off

Posted on January 15, 2013 by Shoshana Rosen

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From my blog:

The layers come offIMG_1993

Did that grab your attention? Well don’t get too excited, sorry to disappoint.

I was bracing my self for that cold shock on my face, but I got off the bus, and the sun hit my face. Oh hello sun! I walked to a coffee shop (duh) and sat outside…as the sun’s rays was beating down on me I started to have this weird feeling, warmth! Oh I haven’t felt you in what felt like forever! The sun was so strong I took off my jacket, heavy sweater, scarves, and cardigan! At this point I was only wearing a tang top! Scandals! I became so aware of how much skin I was showing, something where when I used to live in nyc I would give a second thought to, all of a sudden seemed so revealing. But the feeling on the sun on my skin, the vitamin D was so amazing!


I stayed in tel aviv for 3 days, although I totally felt like I was in a different dimension. With the weather sunny, people smiling, and couldn’t stop saying “ahh hashemesh!” (the sun!) everyone looked so trendy, hip, and beautiful and I realized I am defiantly not in Jerusalem anymore!

I didn’t have any plans besides to walk the streets of tel aviv. I went to the Tel Aviv art musuem, one of my favorite places to go when i was living there… in a room full of paintings, i went to this one, “lovers” by Marc ChagallIMG_2009

Somehow at the end of every day, I ended up at the beach, at the yam (sea). Most of the times it wasn’t intentional, but I guess my soul was calling to the sea.IMG_1968

I remember over the summer when I spent Shabbat and prayed kabbalat Shabbat overlooking the sea. When it was time to turn towards the east for the amidah, the guy leading the service said “you can turn towards Jerusalem, the holy city, or to the west towards the setting sun”

I was frozen, stuck between these two sides of myself, do I face Jerusalem, but in actuality see an empty old garbage filled parking lot, or do I face the setting sun overlooking the vast ocean… To tell you the truth, I don’t remember which way I turned.


But this dichotomy, this rift and tension I have felt so much ever since I lived in tel aviv for 6 months studying at Tel Aviv university. There I fell deeply in love with tel aviv, and for the first time, with my self. I would sit in cute coffee shops for hours just me, a big fresh salad, cappihonio and my journal.


But there are also times where my spiritual side cried out for the old broken stones of Jerusalem. So here I am, stuck in between my love for two very different places.

As I endlessly wondered the streets I thought of the story that I originally heard from a book from Harold Kushner, its called the The Missing Piece (by Shel Silverstein)

It’s a story of a circle, missing a piece. And the circle wants to be whole, so it went around looking for its missing piece. But because it was incomplete   and therefore could roll only very slowly, it admired the flowers along the way. It enjoyed the sunshine.

Sometimes I think about that, when I feel broken, we as a society especially in Judaism talks about a broken heart .and it can be found in many of our famous rabbis’ and teachings. For example:

“There is nothing as whole as a broken heart,” said the Kotsker Rebbe.


“God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” pslam 34

But I think that although sometimes that could be true, we want and create saying that help us through difficult times. And I think sometimes the most helpful thing is to just say “yea its very shitty” and know that it will pass.(gam ze yavo..this too shal pass)


So after three days of sun, beach (the first day I went to the beach I was walking in my rain boots!) what a weird sensation! And seeing some good old friends, filled me enough to come back to Jerusalem.


I continue walking, learning, and growing and I think about how after I fractured a bone in my vertebra over the summer, after spending almost a month in bed, I was well enough to walk, but I walked slowly (this was difficult as a new Yorker) but because of that, as I was walking by a street that I have walked a hundred times before a saw a little garden with chairs and tables, something I have passed by but never noticed. But if it wasn’t for that broken part of me, I wouldn’t have seen it.

I wonder what beautiful surprises I will find next