ז׳ בסיון ה׳תשע״ז (June 1, 2017) Putting Away My Phone and Talking to G-d
No service. Two words most teenagers dread to hear. They were told to us before we embarked on our first tiyul to the Negev desert in southern Israel, out of range of any cell phone towers. We had no idea what to expect of this trip, but many of us were excited to escape the seemingly arctic conditions of Jerusalem. We hopped on the bus and headed south to a place called Be’erotayim, near the border of Egypt and our home for the night. After an incredible day in the desert, including camel riding and learning about the desert and our ancestors’ stories that took place there, we hit the hay for the night in our rustic mud huts.
In the morning we were greeted with an incredible breakfast and homemade tea. We davened Shacharit, the morning service, around the campfire and quickly headed out for another day of camel riding and learning. Roughly 20 minutes into our journey we stopped in a fairly flat area. We were taught that in the biblical times of Abraham, if you wanted to pray, you spoke aloud to G-d. As simple as that—you talked and had a conversation.
Betsalel requested we all leave the circle in silence and find our own spot away from others. We were told to leave all time telling devices in the circle. Betsalel asked us to go and have a conversation with G-d. We could talk about anything we wanted and take a moment for ourselves without any concept of time.
I looked around and saw my classmates spread out across the desert and quickly began my own conversation with G-d. I talked about my future, my frustrations, fears, aspirations and more. I felt connected, and I felt like I was heard. It was a moment I will never forget. The one-on-one conversation in the vast desert made me realize how small I am in this world, how there are things so much bigger than me. It was an incredibly powerful feeling to have an honest and true conversation with G-d. It was an experience enhanced by my surroundings and unique to the silence and vastness that you can only find in the desert.
After we heard Betsalel belt out the Jewish tune “Ozi V’Zimrat Ya,” we headed back and reformed the circle. Our group was in shock at the length of time that had passed while we were on our own. It made me realize how much of a bearing time has on my life, how I truly am a slave to the clock.
This tiyul was an incredible way to begin our journey here in Israel. We saw the incredible power that Israel’s nature has to capture our hearts and leave us in astonishment.