Gush Etzion Settler Speaks

On this road, this blessed packed dirt under our feet,
you can walk straight into Jerusalem.
Right there is a milestone.
Romans always built over existing roads.
This one is maybe 4,000 years old,
carried Abraham and Sarah.
Those terraces up there where Arabs
tend grapes? Those date
from the time of Joshua.

See here the narrow aqueduct
the trickle of water underneath the shelter
where you make pre-ablution prayers.
Intrepid teenage girls still come here to be seen
by G-d. This is an ancient mikvah,
go down the slippery steps into the mossy stone cave
impure and ascend pure. Of course
now there is only mud inside. Watch
your shoes. You see, wherever Jews settled,
first they built the mikvah, then the cemetery.
Only then a synagogue. A mikvah on the side of a hill
is our flag – we were here.

If you’ll all walk down this hill,
come through the fence into the Beit Midrash
where I teach students to develop the inner tools
to go out into the world. Sit down. Have
an orange. Don’t worry
about the man in the corner, his tallit over his head.
We’re used to praying through distractions.

I was at college, studying energy and force
when first it bit me. Something was wrong.
I needed to live life, savor it, roll around in nettle if need be
but not hover over it. How do you
fix something in you when the tools
themselves are the problem?
A mirror of tarnished silver distorts the light.

I made Aliyah to the Land of Israel
to return to a full-blooded Judaism.
But I’ll tell you, with the Security Fence,
I feel less safe. Fences are the boundary

of who you are. Better to have a zone
of uncertainty than violence bred from getting
complacent. Here we
have tit-for-tat.
When villagers come here to steal or make incursions,
we go into the villages.

In our world, the rational is overdeveloped.
That we think we can understand
anything is our greatest illusion.
This land calls forth the natural, poetic, creative.
Just being here opens me, helps me connect.
So much can’t be expressed.
Judaism is not just about books.

In this land, Jews must dominate.
Others can be here, but not be sovereign.
I ask for all of the Land of Israel,
as the Mishna teaches –
when two parties dispute land,
if both say “it’s all mine,”
in court each side gets half.
But if one claims all and the other half,
then one gets three-quarters, the other one-quarter.
I claim all
because Arabs claim all.

Did you know the name “Palestine” was invented
by Roman occupation authorities
to obscure the ancient Jewish connection to this land?
The king of Prussia said Jews proved
the existence of God. Our survival
a mystery, too great a sweep of a dream.
The way to spiritual peace
is not through the Messiah.
Rather the vision of the UN, human beings, human relations.
The love, respect, passion we bring to our children
will lead to peace in time.
I’m not in a hurry.
I’m working long and slow,
the long shorter path.
When it comes, it will come.