Four Amot

Earlier this week, I embarked on what was one of the craziest, most intense things I’ve done in a while.  I hiked from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Galilee in three days with some friends.  It was a much-needed break from the daily grind and some much-needed exercise after being waylaid by a foot injury (Walking 30+ miles up mountains and through riverbeds is not the smartest thing to do after just recovering).  Most importantly, it was a connection with nature and the Land of Israel and all the wonders Gd created, which is just too easy to overlook when life gets in the way.

I learned a lot of important things along the way:

  1. Beyond really tired is overtired.  There are stages beyond that, too — crankiness and self-doubt.  Push past that to the adrenaline stage, and you can achieve physical breakthroughs.
  2. A huta is a pit, not a landmark, and in any given patch of wilderness there might be many of them.  The one you are at might not necessarily be the same as the one you think you’re at on the map.
  3. Humans are fragile beings and can only function normally under pretty limited weather conditions.  The first night none of us could sleep because it was so cold.  On that note, what helped me make it through was the portable shelter of my wide-brim hat that looks more like a tent.  I get a lot of flack for losing style points, but I don’t look so great beet red and dehydrated either.  The morning blessings (called Birkot HaShachar, literally “Blessings of the Dawn” that I actually said at dawn!) thank Gd for providing the “simple” things, like being able to recognize that a new day has begun — much easier to do when you sleep outside.
aliza at the overlook

My friend Aliza overlooks the valley.

According to some opinions, every daled amot, or four cubits, walked in Israel fulfills a mitzvah. If that’s the case, I racked up a whole lot this week! Hiking and going on tiyulim, is a favorite pasttime for Israelis.  We came across many school groups along the way, and no, I cannot imagine Jewish highschoolers from New York pitching their own tents and sleeping outside.  My seminary and the ulpan/absorption center for new immigrants would take participants on tiyulim not just because taking a walk in nature is a fun getaway, but because walking the Land is an essential part of living in Israel.

Just after Gd promises Abraham the Land of Israel, He commands him:  Rise, walk in the land, to its length and to its breadth, for I will give it to you.” (Bereshit / Genesis 13:17).  Traversing the land was the method for taking possession.  First, walk it and get to know it.  Then you really own it.


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Ilene Rosenblum is a writer and marketing professional living in Jerusalem.

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