Over the course of this summer, I have had the honor of meeting many leaders in Palestine. The perception when I've met with these men in positions of political power hasn't been that Kabbalah is Jewish. I was not greeted as a Jew or Israeli person stopping by to make nice to some Palestinians, but as a spiritual leader seeking to speak with others interested in affecting true change in the world.
From the governor of Nablus to the Prime Minister of The Palestinian Authority, I would explain what Kabbalah is, hand them a Zohar and ask that a group of 1400 during our summer tour of Israel be permitted to enter their territory and visit the grave sites of the righteous souls.
It was an unheard of request, one many would have laughed at as impossible. Yet on 8/11/11 there we were on twenty-five buses rolling into Nablus, traveling with a lineup of security personnel, dozens of armed policemen - Palestinian police, mind you - staked out on every street and rooftop, entrusted to take care of us. It was a real sight, coming into the main square to rally for peace where usually there are rallies for war. I spoke. My brother spoke. My mother spoke, saying once we accept and can see that spark of the Creator in each and every person, we will have peace. It really is as simple as that.
All 1400 of us were given the chance to walk through the marketplace and see the people of Nablus, some of them leaving their posts where they were working just to be able to walk with us and talk with us for a while.
We went into the tomb of Joseph the Righteous in Nablus where we all had an opportunity to connect and for me personally, having my son connect there for his Bar Mitzvah was one of the great highlights of my life. In years past, if we wanted to visit the tomb of Joseph, a small group of us, maybe four or five brave souls, would steal away in the night wearing all black for fear of being caught and arrested - or worse. This year, with the help of my mother Karen and my brother Michael, we were not only allowed to enter but became guests of honor for what became Peace & Freedom Day in Nablus.
It was the power to make change in action.
As we all know and have experienced, however, such change can often be temporary. I discussed this in a blog about 9/11, the sense of unity we felt holding hands in the streets that today is nowhere to be found. What was to happen after Peace and Freedom Day? I was reminded of this by Munib al-Masri, another man I met during my travels. One of the wealthiest men in Palestine, he had heard of our intentions to enter the territory and was right away intrigued. When I met with him to discuss some of the details, he told me what is always missing when people perform great acts of this nature is something they call Mutaba'ah, which means "follow up."
In every relationship, the work is never just in the positive actions we do for each other, but in the follow up. If we hear someone is sick, we don't just say, "Oh I'm sorry to hear that." Hopefully we care enough to follow up by checking in on them the next day, maybe bringing them some soup. If we're a good enough cook, maybe we even go the extra mile to make it ourselves.
We may have brought the Light to Nablus that day, we may have already changed history by 1400 people waving flags from every nation and singing songs of peace in a place of war, but it is never enough. That's the follow up. That enough is never enough.
With every little bit of change we make in our lives, we can maximize that small change simply by asking ourselves: What's next? What can I do now? What additional responsibility can I take on?
We cemented our relationship with the Palestinians on this trip, but now we have to follow up, all of us. My mother, my brother and I, of course, we have to find out what progress can be made next, but it is a group effort. We all must follow up on the promises we make in our spiritual work.
Because we want more than Peace and Freedom Day. We want - no, we must insist! - on a lifetime of it.