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I said goodbye to my parents. They thought they were losing a son. They weren't losing me. I just wasn't going to see them anymore.
My mom said I wouldn't call, but I told her that I have to. Kibud Av vEim is a Mitzvah, as I explained to my Mom that I would call her because God said I have to. So, she accepted God. She now liked God, and I did my part in Kiruv (bringing a Jew closer to Yiddishkeit- Judaism- I will explain every word, as I want you to also become religious).
The flight was to Israel for Yeshiva. My parents wanted to know why I gave up. They assumed that giving up a steady job as an industrial engineer is not normal. They thought that it made no sense to give up a six-figure contract that was set for the next eight years. They've never been to Jerusalem. I told them, 'Torah.' It was then that they knew Torah was an excuse to not work. And I love Torah.
I made the flight on time. It was the first of many miracles. I was late. Saying goodbye to my parents took way too long. They never learned about Bitul Zman (wasting time from Torah).
The greatest miracle was that half of the passengers on the plane were late. I am assuming that the pilots know it takes a long time to explain to your family that you are giving up your job for connection with God.
I got on the plane and sat next to a tiny human, called a child. Another great miracle. I had space. Then, a religious woman wanted to change seats with me. Not a miracle. That was my first test. As Avraham had ten tests, God was testing me as well (I don't say Lord, as I am not catholic- I am Jewish and thus I refer to God). Giving up a good seat on the plane was my first.
She said she wanted to sit next to her husband. She said it was my duty as a religious Jew to let her sit next to her husband. I had not yet learned that Mitzvah. But I was looking forward to learning about it in Yeshiva.
As I changed seats, I realized she just didn't want to have to sit next to a huge guy who insisted on lifting up the armrest, so he could have enough room to fit. She wanted more space. Maybe it's a Mitzvah to give people space. I don't know. I believe they bought separate seats, because there was one aisle seat, and there was no seat next to that aisle seat. And her husband wasn't going to not take the aisle seat. The huge guy, I ended up next to, taught me about the word finagle, as he was whacking me with his elbow and sweating on me.
There was no food on the first leg of the flight. The rabbi at shul didn't teach me that you have to order Kosher food, and then call to make sure they have your Kosher food, and then to check again to make sure they know, and then to explain that you really need a separate meal that is Kosher. I thought you just tell them you want Kosher and check the Kosher box, and then you'll get it. I hope the Gemara has a lesson on how many times you have to call the airline to make sure you have a Kosher meal.
On the second leg, another miracle occurred. I got food. The airline didn't have my name on the food list. But they had the name of the woman I gave my seat to. The next thing I know, they had an extra meal for me, and my name was Malkie. Then, I got another meal. Somebody said they didn't trust the Hashgacha (kosher supervision). I began to respect people who are Machmir (stringent), and don't trust other rabbis, and I had food.
Another miracle. The dinner was only enough food for a snack, and it lasted the whole flight. I am on my way to Israel and I am experiencing all the great miracles of our people. I told myself at that time that I would eat every day, to commemorate the little food that lasted the whole flight. I also committed to eating more than the chicken sliver strip if I was ever going to be Fleishiks again (Fleishiks means I meat, and once I eat meat I have to wait six hours to eat dairy- which is why Jews don't eat meat for breakfast, and why I will never eat meat before 8pm).
The greatest miracle of all. I fell asleep on the huge guy's chest. The little space I had on the plane, was enough to sleep for one night. And to this day, I commemorate that with sleeping. Judaism is about commemorating. I commemorate the oil that lasted eight days, the freedom from Haman, and being able to sleep in discomfort.
When I disembarked, I made it through security. That was a miracle, as I was smuggling in a lot of deodorant. B"H they didn't ask me.
It was God's hand involved in my trip. The Mitzvah of giving up my seat so that somebody else could enjoy the flight. The food that lasted me the whole flight. The not feeling bad about my parents crying as I left.
And the most amazing miracle of all. As I entered Israel, they all welcomed me. I don't know what they said. It was Hebrew. But they welcomed me in the holy language of the Torah. Such a Kiddish H.' Only in Israel do they speak Hebrew. In Israel, Brooklyn, and hotels around the world on Pesach. But they speak Hebrew in Israel too. And they welcomed me, 'Bruchim HaBaim HaBayta.' As I learned later, 'Welcome home.' With all the sad goodbyes, I was home. My belongings weren't there and I had to share a bunk bed with a thirty year old man, but I was home. And I told my non-religious parents I was home, and they weren't happy. And my mom doesn't like God that much right now.
My luggage wasn't there. Yet, they said you can live without your luggage. Only in Israel, the Holy Land, does one not need such physical Gashmiyus, like your belongings. You only need your Neshama and Tzitzis (which I was wearing).
When we stepped out of the airport, I was told to kiss the holy ground. Only in Israel is the ground so clean that you can kiss it.
Ten days later, my luggage came. Another miracle.
Follow Up Notes
I don't believe the holy ground was swept. I did take in a dust ball as I kissed the holy land.
I still haven't called my mom. Nonetheless. I'm learning. If I ever get reception in Yeshiva, that will be another huge miracle. My mom will appreciate that miracle. Right now, she doesn't like God or Golan Telecom very much.
In Yeshiva, we learn in Aramaic. I understand none of it. I still can't tell you if it's a Mitzvah to give up your seat on the plane for somebody who wants a better seat. I am now saving up for a first-class ticket. I don't believe they ask you to do Mitzvahs in first class.
I understand that this story is inspirational. It has inspired many in their journey towards being good Jews.
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Wearing Israeli flags. Showing their support for Israel at the rally in DC. It would’ve been smarter if they brought coats. Based on experience, flags don’t work as good windbreakers.