Op-Ed: Ascending the Mountain - Today
When you live in Israel, you have opportunities that no one else in the world can have.
You can decide - in the morning - to visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs - that very same afternoon.
You can take a hike one day in the desert, on day in the mountains, one day on the beach or by a river.
And if you are really adventurous, you can do all four in a single day.
Yes, because our Land is so compact, you can see a great deal without much advance notice.
Still, there are certain points of interest that require preparation, and I was fortunate enough to experience one of them – and perhaps the most remarkable of them – with my children at this point in time.
We decided to ascend the Mount.
Of course, you don't just go there. You have to prepare. You have to wear special shoes. It is important to speak with others who have experienced it, so they can educate you about what you will encounter when you are up there. Of course, there are Internet resources as well.
It is known that there are certain days when it is not possible to ascend. On other days, it is particularly magical. There are people who have been there many times, and wear that as a badge of honor, and others who have only gone once.
Most have never been there.
But anyone who has gone will tell you that it's an incredible, almost surreal experience, that is beyond explanation.
And it's spiritual. So spiritual.
And as I stood there, with a bunch of children around my feet, one compound thought went through my mind:
I can't believe this is also part of Eretz Yisrael, and I can't believe that it took me seven years of living here to come see this.
And then the kids ran off, sleds in-hand, to make the most of the short time we would be spending on Har Hermon.
Yes, not Har HaBayit., not the Temple Mount, but Har Hermon in the north.
I know that there is a general preoccupation in this country with the holy sites, with the importance of Yehuda and Shomron, the Patriach's Me'arat HaMachpela and yes, of course, Har HaBayit.
And don't get me wrong. I've lived in Yesha, visited Hevron many times and even been to Har HaBayit on multiple occasions.
But Mount Hermon was just breathtaking.
First of all, during the entire climb up the mountain, you can see the snow in the distance, but it doesn't seem like the weather you are experiencing on the way up can transform into, well, winter.
But it does, almost as soon as you pass through the entrance gate for the parking area. And then, it's just snow. As far as you can see. Only snow.
And it's beautiful. Kids laughing and playing. Skiers flying down the slope. Snowballs flying through the air. And so much smiling, even from the parents who are dealing with crying children.
You know, my family has experienced so much holiness since making Aliyah just after Hanukkah in 2004. We've seen HaShem [G-d]'s hand in so many aspects of our lives.
For example, we tried to buy a house in a neighborhood for months, only to have every attempt rejected for one reason or another. It was only when we did see the house we now live in that we understood why we were kept from buying any of the others.
But yesterday, as I looked around at the scene I was part of on that mountain in the north of Israel, I saw HaShem's hand again. But I saw something else as well, something else that has been at play ever since HaShem gave this Land to us.
You know, we Jews have been given a country that has the most beautiful beach, and forests, and the Kinneret, and the Negev desert. But a snow-capped mountain?
Well, HaShem's just showing off now, isn't he?
And it's one thing to have a snow-capped mountain. It's quite another to turn it into a ski/sled/play site that brings smiles to the faces of all who visit.
And that's the something else that is at play on Har Hermon and everywhere else here in the Land of Israel.
It's a partnership between HaShem and the Jewish people. He provides it to us … we build it up.
Quite an opportunity, isn't it?