By: Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin

Exploring Jerusalem!

Judaism teaches that the soul within us is actually detached from its true source. Held captive within our bodies, the soul constantly seeks a way out. It is what lies behind many of our noblest impulses.

The urge to travel and have fun: to explore the unknown and delight in pleasure are but sublimated expressions of the soul's desire to find its source.

The onset of summer activates the body and soul, to new heights. The warmth of the sun encourages us to go out and explore our worlds.

Who better than college students can appreciate the excitement of summer travel? No longer held down by the limitations of high school (that is if there were any), millions of bright-eyed young men and women travel the States and the globe. In all probability, you the reader might be one of these globetrotting collegiates.

But have you thought about what really pushes you to travel the world? What really motivates you to pick up your bags, leave the comforts of home and travel to Paris, Tibet, or Tokyo?

Maybe some of you might even consider visiting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (in between trips to Athens, Rome, London, or Madrid). Or, perhaps, you are planning to stay closer to home, and will spend time in Canada, Mexico, California, Alaska, or Long Island. Who knows? Sometimes where to go and what to experience is a mystery deeper than life itself!

Whichever way you go, whatever you plan to do, no matter wherever your destination, you know that deep inside of you there is this mysterious impulse that urges you on and where exactly, if you would really admit it, you are not exactly sure.

Along comes Judaism and says:

My friend! I have something to tell you! Inside of you there is a neshama, a soul, and it is this neshama that is the source of all your greatest urges and impulses. Particularly, your wanderlust, your desire to travel and see the world for yourself, as well as your insatiable urge to have fun and enjoy yourself, everything noble is rooted in your soul.

Your particular challenge is to direct these urges and impulses in such a way that you, your friends, and your people benefit from it all!

So when you travel, broaden your horizons spiritually as well as physically. Try to grasp the immense beauty of this world that G-d created. And when you're out there in that field, or castle, or wherever it is that the transcendental forces of nature overwhelm you, come into touch with yourself, your neshama, with your own divinity, buried deep inside of you, but now thawed out by the sun's rays.

Perhaps you might even make the trek to Israel, and when you are there, don't only do the things that tourists do, because in truth no Jew is ever a "tourist" in Israel. The Jewish sages refer to Israel as "Paltron shel melech", the palace of the King, because it is not only the land of people, but it is home to the shechina, the Divine Presence, that dwells there. Let your soul really be aware, feel it and soak it up, just like beautiful sunshine.

If for some reason you have a deeper insight into the purpose of life or even into the special meaning of being a Jew, store it up and remember that precious flash. Let sparks of the divine discovered by random events ignite the really big spark inside of you, your divine soul.

Finally, may we all return to our families, friends, and schools safely, and recharged to carry on with our never ending search and mission of life: To return the soul within us to our Maker as purely as when he placed it within us.

Have a happy and (kosher) fun filled summer!

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