July 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

On Visiting My Daughter at Kibbutz Lavi

Psalm 107 extolls the wonders of HaKadosh Baruch Hu. We are encouraged, if not required to publicize our personal experiences of God’s kindness so that others can gain increased awareness of His Providence. This is how I begin. I am humbled to experience the ways Eliora has been blessed.

The following is a beginning but does not come close to encompass all that is here. Upon arrival at Kibbutz Lavi the first impression is the vision of the majesty of the location—it fills one’s eyes. Whichever way one turns there is beauty. The hills, the valleys, the shades of green where there are fields of wheat or grass alone. Now it is spring and there are many splashes of color, red, pink, shades of lavender and purple, yellow and white and blue.

I take a walk and my sense of smell is alerted. Near the barn, there is a strong smell of animals. But it is not awful because for me that odor represents the earth and it’s blessings. I sense the nectar of flowers. The fragrance of wisteria is so strong, it takes hold of me and I find it difficult to move away from the blossoms. The rosemary bushes are plentiful and throughout the kibbutz they add to the delicious scent in the air. Nearing the dining room, I catch the smells of homemade food. The meal is served with dignity and the members of Lavi show their thankfulness to HaShem with their brachot and thanks to those that prepared the meal and clean up after with their words. My sense of taste is engaged, the inviting aroma proves to be delicious when I start to eat. And while my hearing is far from perfect, I hear the cows mooing and stray dogs barking.

On Shabbat, nearing the shul, I hear the sounds of collective prayers. Each man and woman’s voice is tender and sincere. The sound motivates my own kavana to reach greater heights.  Kay Betsy  and Avraham Flanzer are the parents in Eliora’s host kibbutz family. Kay Betsy told me that the kibbutz members thought about holding more than one minyan on Shabbat mornings, but decided it was more important to daven together.  WOW!  What achdut and ahava for each person individually and for the community as a whole!

Silence may be considered by some as nothingness, but in Lavi,  it provided serenity. Silence allowed me to enjoy and process the other sensations. I was completely alone without barriers to my own introspection. In the past I created my own complications, but here I found simplicity. It is intoxicating, not to the point of addiction but as a destination of meaning.

How do I explain how the air I breathe enters my body and affects my soul? It is hard to find ways to explain the heights of my joy in knowing that this is Eliora’s home. In Lavi, she is safe, welcomed and loved by the people. Ultimately this is the manifestation of HaShem’s love and involvement in her life. My understanding of God’s infinite generosity is matched by my gratitude for his kindness which has no limit.

By Varda Hager (Eliora Hager is a Lone Soldier in the IDF)

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