Yesterday we went to Zevat, a beautiful old city with a history of violence. I bought a photograph (artistic double exposure) of a man praying at the Western Wall. The drive north to Zevat was highlighted by the border fence between Jewish Israel and the Palestinian Authority. There is a quiet but undeniable animosity between the Israeli Jews and the Palestinians, that seems certainly unnatural–if not an abomination–and allows for an easy segue into the most interesting event of the day, the Kabbalah lecture in the gallery of David Friedland.
David talked about Kabbalistic mantras of non-dualism and universality. Many members of our group were unmoved by David’s words, but I found myself in profound agreement with him. Are we really so incompatible–the Palestinians and Jews? Both religions value the same characteristics–the oneness of God, humility, respect, love–but still manage to fall victim to the soul-corrupting forces around them.
What reason has the peaceful farmer of one country to put down his plow, and lift up sword against the peaceful farmer of another, but through the means of a false authority? This is a useful question that, I believe, is at the heart of what David Friedland was trying to convey.
To talk of the “peaceful farmer” of one nation with any true authority, one must first know that man exists, and I do. One of the soldiers in our group, Tzahi, led us to his family’s farm, just three kilometers from the Lebanese border. Here was a small farm not unlike the one my grandmother grew up on, decades ago in rural Tennessee. The family was a peaceful and welcoming bunch. They allowed us to ride their horses, eat fruit from their trees, and collect eggs from their hen house. I would be willing to bet there are peaceful farms like this one, on the other side of the border, with peaceful, welcoming families, who are also mournfully propagandized by a false authority that pits humankind against itself in war. It seems to me that this cannot be the will of God, but a result of the human ignorance thereof, or a human arrogance that would assume rule over God’s domain.
Last night we stayed in cabins, and the common area had a basketball court and picnic tables. We played basketball and guitar, and sang–“Freebird” and “The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room” were my humble contributions. Today we hike and swim.