Nachshon’s grandparents on their way to Eilat in 1954.
My Grandfather’s Exodus from Egypt
BY NACHSHON MEIR SPIEGELMAN
If you would ask my Saba “What was your Yetziat Mitzrayim (Exodus)?” (a question worth asking any person, especially a grandparent), you’ll receive the following answer – his visit to Israel almost seventy years ago!
“During this journey, which I will never forget, I found a country and I found a wife,” says Saba – the two things that redeem a person from loneliness and wandering. Although it’s still unclear to me who made the first move during their two-week sail from New York to Israel, meeting your spouse on a ship to Israel is pretty romantic!
“Already then, at our young age, Savta and I decided: we would return to this place, for this is where we belong. We never asked ourselves if we should immigrate to Israel, but only when. Although it took us another forty years until we actually arrived – forty years of anticipation and preparation – in the end, we came home.”
During my grandparents’ incredible visit, they met David Ben-Gurion and Shai Agnon, volunteered at an immigrant and refugee absorption camp outside of Jerusalem and traveled all over the country. But there was one place they did not get to visit, a place Saba never thought he would reach in his lifetime – the Kotel. He remembers standing at the Tower of David when the guide turned the group’s attention to the Jordanian snipers who were standing on the other side. From a distance, he could see part of that holy place; but he could not reach it, like Moshe on Har Nevo.
Incredibly, the Six Day War broke out, miracles happened and Jerusalem was united, now and forever. Within a few months, my Saba was on his way – this time by plane – to the Land of Israel.
Today, my Saba does not overly sanctify or obsess over the Kotel, for he considers the walls of the heart (קִירוֹת הַלֵּב) to be the ikkar, the main thing, not the walls of stone. But when he came that first time to this holy and sacred place, he touched the wall and began to weep. His heart opened when he touched those stones, stones he never imagined he would feel with his own hands. Unprepared for the experience, he didn’t know how to react or what he should do. He thought for a moment, took out a book of Tehillim, and began to read them with a passion and focus he had never before experienced.
Saba is our family’s storyteller, and particularly for us, his grandchildren, who were born in he Land. We, the generation born into a world of miracles that are too easy to take for granted, who have only known a rebuilt and united Jerusalem, must learn the story of the journey, from the generation that left Egypt.
“And it shall be, when you come to the Land which Hashem your G-d has given you for an inheritance… And you shall speak and say before Hashem your G-d: ‘A wandering Aramean was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there… And Hashem brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm… And He has brought us into this place, and has given us this Land, a Land flowing with milk and honey’” (Devarim 26:1, 5, 8–9).
Nachshon Meir Spiegelman is a high school educator, certified tour guide and the author of “Storky’s Journey Home”, a children’s book about the many birds who migrate over Israel, a parable for the symbiotic and constant relationship between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. The book can be purchased on Amazon.