After a few weeks of feeling totally overwhelmed, my husband decided to book us a break up North.


I had a million things to do, and the weather wasn’t looking so great, but I decided what the heck – let’s do it.

It’s part of something I am trying out in my life more and more, called ‘letting God decide things’.

So, we went, and while it had some good stuff – like practically having the Kinneret to ourselves on a couple of days, and praying in a bunch of cool kevarim, mostly in Tiberius – it also had it’s mediocre, disappointing and boring side.

Like all ‘holidays’.


The first day, I was at the separate beach on the Kinneret, trying to work out why it was taking me literally 40 minutes to blow up my rubber ring.

(My husband clued me in afterwards that there’s a valve you have to kind of ‘push’, to get the air to go in. Who knew?)

So in the meantime, I’m wondering why it is I’m spending 40 minutes of my hour of ‘relaxing swimming time’ trying to blow up a rubber ring in a mode of acute hyperventilation that was anything but relaxing, just so I could ‘relax more’ by floating on it, when it was finally inflated.

The message came back loud and clear:

It’s like that story of the fisherman, who is told to go and make 5 gazillion dollars building and selling a fishing empire, just so he can spend most of his time…catching fish.

That’s us.

You and me.

Brainwashed into thinking that all this ‘holiday’ stuff and ‘relaxing’ stuff is actually going to make us feel good and ‘relaxed’.


For sure, it’s quieter up North.

So quiet in some places, you feel like you’re in the world time forgot.

And for sure, there is less ‘stress’ in the air.

(Except, my kid called me the first day to tell me some bomb exploded in Megiddo, just up the road from where we were staying….)

We brought the madness with us….

That’s what I thought to myself, initially.

Then, I thought to myself: we can’t run away from the world, not even when it’s so crazy, stressful and anger-inducing as it currently is.

Not even in places like Tiberius, which is still playing mostly songs from the 1980s (including Samantha Fox…. Fellow Brits out there of a certain age will appreciate that pretty much the last thing she was known for was her singing.)


On the way down, we stopped in Zichron Yaakov, to visit the ‘First Aliyah Museum’.

I learnt some new stuff there, not least that ‘the Baron’s men’ were terrorising ‘the settlers’, trying to control every tiny thing about their life, and effectively forcing them into serfdom while ‘the Baron’s men’ effectively forced them sell all their land and holdings – they they literally sweat blood for – to ‘the Baron’.

It struck me how little has really changed.


Something else I learned in Zichron Yaakov, in one of the really beautiful gift shops there, is that most ordinary people here are totally sick and tired of all this pointless politics going on all the time.

The nice secular woman who owned the shop told us that even on Purim, instead of getting the community in the mood for Purim by playing happy music etc, the council basically organised demonstrations against the government on the street instead.

She told us there were kids dressed in red on all the street corners, chanting slogans.

Why red?

I still don’t know.

(Communist May Day throwbacks? Edom? Frankist color coding? Something else?)

But long story short, she said it killed the whole atmosphere dead, and there are no tourists buying anything at the moment, because all the energy is going into yelling ‘busha’ like brainwashed zombies…


Something else I learnt from that museum in Zichron Yaakov:

Eretz Yisrael truly is acquired with suffering.

It’s always been that way.

And it’s still that way today.

Just back then, people were living in huts, dying of malaria and starving to death.

And today… we’re agonising over which luxury development to live in and how big the mortgage is going to be.


Of course, there are other forms of ‘suffering’ going on here, too.

When good Jews are killed by government-sponsored terrorists, that really hurts.

But, at least we are acquiring Eretz Yisrael with that suffering.

I speak to my family abroad, and I’m hearing from both the US and the UK that everyone is suffering a lot right now, in those countries too.

And for what, exactly?


So, it was good to take a break from psycho commentators, crazy news, worries about the future that may or may not be based in reality, and just that general feeling of ‘overwhelm’.

But mostly, because that break taught me just how good my day to day life actually is.

And that once again, the real treasure we’re looking for – the real meaning, the real joy – is to be found in our own back yards.


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5 replies
  1. AK
    AK says:

    Welcome back Rivka!

    Wow, my wife and I literally had this conversation over the past couple of days. It is so true how we forget how good life is and to thank Hashem everyday. I also usually never find vacations totally relaxing. Nice to be homebodies.

  2. Simon
    Simon says:

    I’m about to go on vacation in a few weeks too.
    But you’re right; the best place to be is at home, repairing the world.
    But then Rabbi Nachman says some people are in the category of a “wanderer on the earth” and they are destined to travel and wander, and they will bless and be blessed by those places. Like Yaakov was decreed to go down to Egypt, whether peacefully or by force.

    Thanks for this blog.
    God has sent you to me (through Chananya Weissman’s email almost a year ago) and you have really helped me so far. May God give us success and joy!
    (And may God give me a wife!)

  3. Rivka Levy
    Rivka Levy says:

    Ta… it’s amazing how many of us feel like ‘wanderers upon the earth’ today… Even when we own big, fat houses – even in Eretz Yisrael! – I am speaking to so many people who just don’t ‘feel at home’ still. Maybe, we are reflecting Hashem’s ‘homeless state’, until He gets the Temple rebuilt… BH.


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