Leon's No News-letter 238 What I say to tourists.(This article was written on October 16, a litt
Natalie was a tall, slim, attractive Dutch girl of about 24, I guess, whose father had called me from Holland, the day before.
This happened to be while I was out, on one of my solitary walks, one beautiful, sunny, but cool, Autumn Sunday, a few days before Yom Kippur, a time for meditation, which only came to fruition now, a few days after Succot, the time for reading the book of Ecclesiastes, the book of conclusions of our meditations.
He had called to arrange a walking tour of Jerusalem for his daughter, who was in Israel with her friend, who turned out to be Edith, also tall and pretty, but with beautiful blond hair, hanging round her neck in fluffy curls. The tour took place the next day.
These two beautiful, young ladies sat listening to me with rapt attention while I talked, thinking how miraculous it was that they could find my thoughts more interesting than the historic information I had been giving them until this moment. This is the case with most people who tour with me and I never cease to be surprised by it.
It was a mild, Autumn day, blue skies above, my beautiful tourists and I, speaking Dutch, were seated under the maple tree in an outdoor cafe, in the reconstructed Jewish Quarter of the Old City.
The Jewish Quarter is very different from other parts of Jerusalem that we had passed through until then, about 12pm.
We'd started out at 8:30 in their little, red Splash, from a quiet alleyway in Baka, a spruced up 19th century neighborhood of New Jerusalem, where they were staying with Natalie's aunt, a small, swarthy, elegant, middle aged woman, of Iranian descent, who enchanted me by her friendliness.
I thought to myself that a beautiful Dutch lady with an Iranian aunt is typical of the kind of people one meets in Israel, the land of people of different origins, mixed into one family, a reunification of the scattered Jewish People coming together in Israel, the Land of the ingathered Jewish exiles.
We'd been to Temple Mount, the Via Dolorosa, The Garden Tomb and eaten Humus at Aleyed restaurant, outside the Damascus Gate and we'd walked through the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Now it was now time to relax and energize our mental and physical batteries for the mind stretching, foot slogging efforts, required for visits to the Kotel and the Mt of olives.
The Dutch word for the Kotel is "Klaagmuur", literally "The complaints wall", which reminds me of my late father's opinion, which he expressed often, that it doesn't help to complain. When complaints weren't answered he would say "ret zu de want" which means that complaining is as useless as talking to a wall. For example when my mother would tell me to do my homework and I didn't do it, her talking to me brought as much response as talking to the wall would bring, it's a matter of words falling on deaf ears.
The Jewish Quarter overlooks the Wailing Wall. People visit here to relax either after complaining or praying at the wall or in preparation for a visit there. I didn't discuss the wall but I was trying to rather sum up our conclusions about the places we'd already visited, known as the holy places.
We had seen the crowds flocking to these holy places, although they were less that Monday than on most other Mondays, one of the days fixed by the Jews as a day for reading the Torah and celebrating bar mitzvahs.
Observing this phenomenon aroused certain thoughts which I shared with my tourists, as they sipped their iced coffee and I my water.
"It's all because people believe in miracles" I said. Belief in miracles is vitally important for most people; it's the foundation stone for their belief in God's existence. They say that God is God because He can perform miracles. They worship Him constantly, expecting Him to make miracles for them. Their whole existence depends on this expectation.
We've all had our fair share of miracles, just as we've all had our disappointments when miracles didn't happen. God made a miracle for me once when I was about 10 years old; my beloved black scotty had gone missing for about 2 days and I was heartbroken, so I prayed to God and lo and behold he was found, locked up, by mistake in a storeroom at my father's shop, where he liked sniffing around until he found a cozy spot for dozing.
Unfortunately miracles didn't always materialize. For example, they didn't materialize at school, at work or in love; sometimes, no matter how hard I had worked, or prayed, a project would fail. Other times, when I least expected to succeed, a miracle happed and I had great success.
So I've come to realize that living according to miracles was a very unreliable affair and if believing in God depended on Him performing miracles, then my belief would be on very shaky ground. This was no good; belief can't be shaky, because my whole life depends on it. Belief must be strong, giving a firm foundation to life.
My conclusion is simply that, despite all the miracles recounted in the Bible, God is God because He created the world according to firm, unchangeable laws of physics. Once they have been created they continue to function without any interference from God.
This idea gives me confidence in His omnipotence and assures me that what has been is passed and what will be, will be. Everything is according to the laws of nature, created by Him, a merciful, loving God whose faithfulness endures forever.
"What about the miracles in the Bible?" You may ask. They are all natural events, which human beings in their frailty interpreted as miracles.
There is only one miracle; the miracle of creation.
Wishing you a great no newsday