Seeing the other, the other is a very sublime virtue. Most often, observation is through filters of culture and time. After all, when did we stop to look at another without the automatic translation we run in our head examining it beforehand?
Is he like us? Is it different? From our conference? Richer? Poorer? Are you educated or ignorant? Do you speak our languages? Right or left? West or East? Saved or neglected?
If he is similar to us in many sections, we will immediately look for a common theme and agree with him, a stranger, that we are from the same camp. But if he is different from us, then immediately definitions will arise in our heads that mark him in the field we assign to him and do not let the stranger and the strange move from them.
These days we are back from a trip to Jerusalem. Jerusalem does not have to exterminate foreigners. After all, everyone in it belongs to this or that group in every vein of his soul. As you set foot in Jerusalem, you are forced to choose a clear identity. Religion and degree of religiosity. Nationality and degree of race. Areas of Interest: Nature, Human Nature, Architecture, History (Near or Far), Arts, Food…
As we entered the city gates, I felt like I was wearing a definitional costume that matched my truth presented to the public. Immediately afterward, however, I began to submit uncomfortably in my definitions. Faced with the extremes of others, my costume also became a cartoon. Is not my demonstrable secularism just as ridiculous as that devout black-clad, man-clad devotees mocking in the heat of the Israeli sun? Do our costumes faithfully represent a significant difference, or do they create ample enough space so that we can not examine each other to the point of finding the similarities? Do we not say precisely the same things in our different languages?
I looked around and wanted to see other people. I wanted to see them. As if removed from the eyes of the translation veil.
I watched as a young mother quickly crossed the stone alley pushing a stroller and wrapped in a cloud of toddlers around her. I listened to her words, how she praises and charms for a moment in gentle terms of affection with every child, how she glorifies even for a brief moment the presence of each of her many children. And they walked around warming up and savoring the verbal caresses she had bestowed on them. They did not see me, nor the alley nor the pilgrims nor the rubbish bins, nor the burden of the definitions placed on them in their clothing and wigs.
I watched my children sit next to me on a low stone fence. They were dressed in colorful clothes and hiking hats, a small bag with treasures hidden in it on their backs. Toy, notebook and colors, candy and snack. And they sit like that next to me, giving rest to their sore feet from hours of wandering around the city and its alleys. And as we sit like this, we exchange things about humor and affection between us. And I whisper in their ear quick explanations of what their eyes see. And they, too, my children relish the warm stream of hot air tickling their ears as I whisper words to them. They, too, shudder with pleasure at the touch of my hand and wrap their backs and fingers, arranging something in their hair. They too long to hear me say their name affectionately and praise them.
We went for a walk in Mea Shearim. Before leaving, I wrapped myself in clothes that gave me a foreign look. A long, gray skirt, a long shirt, neither described nor citrus, and a headscarf envelops the entire crown of my head and does not let any of her hair slip. I felt like something was coming and erasing everyone I was. And, as we wandered the streets and entrances, I felt nothing more than a passing shadow beside my husband and children. I bowed my head, deviated from the path of men wearing hats and elegant coats, refrained from speaking loudly and entering stores that had a male crowd. I looked at the woman. A river was flowing over some of them. In their ugly, thick clothes, which deprive them of flexibility and grace, people and sidewalks walked to them as perpetrators in the crowded street. And their glory is poured out in the river on their faces. And the men on that street no longer seemed to me, black-clad strangers. In their brisk gait, they hurried to work: world affairs, organization, and arrangement, bargaining and addiction, study and memorization. And there were no idle and dull fetuses in them.
And at the end of our travels in their streets, we returned our car, and there I changed my clothes to the ones I know myself, and in an instant, the strangers again became uniformed walking aimlessly in the streets of the city their wives to nameless gray spots. And I became tall and clear again.
On this Yom Kippur, I want to strike on sin. I confess before you a loud and supreme king that not all this majesty is hidden from me, but that I choose not to see. For my eyes are blinded to see all the beauty.
That not himself mirrors eyes and not sealed ears of the hearing.
My correction for this year will be to open my heart and mind to see, feel and believe in the plethora of truths the world is made of. To learn that I am part of the general mosaic and that the light, many sources for it, and that together we illuminate the world in sustainability.