The Proposal: Travel Diary
Disclaimer: Let me just clarify right now that I am not engaged. I can, however, now claim to have been proposed to.
Tachana Ha’Merkazet (the central bus station) in Jerusalem is always chaotic, but never more so then on Thursday evenings. On this particular Thursday though, the bus station was filled to the brim with travelers, all desperate for a ticket to the same place: Har Meiron. Every year, hundreds upon thousands of people flock to Israel for Lag B’omer, the 33rd day of Omer, and passing day of the illustrious rabbi Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai. It is known that his passing day is a day of great joy, and one in which everyone is encouraged to pray for the things they need most. Like the hundreds of other backpack clad travelers, I too was in line for a ticket to the mountain. As most things go in my life, getting to that point was difficult and bumpy, and standing in that line proved to be less helpful than I expected it to be.
Earlier that day, I was preparing for my trip down to Bnei Brak, where I would later catch a ride to Tzfat for the weekend with my friends. From Tzfat, we would take a bus to Har Meiron. I was ready to set out, in my traveling best, and a backpack the size of a mountain on my back.
And then the phone rang.
“….I can’t believe I’m doing this to you, but something came up and we can’t go to Tzfat in the end.”
Immediately, my brain kicked itself into high gear to come up with an alternate plan. Within ten minutes, I was running down Rechov Yafo, towards the bus station, to rectify the situation. Of course, I didn’t anticipate that there would be three hundred other people with the same problem, waiting in line at the ticket booth.
After twenty minutes of being repeatedly kicked off of line by the ticket teller, the situation looked hopeless. I decided to leave the line, and go home. On my way out, I noticed a charity booth (They’re on every corner in Israel), and decided to stop off and give a few dollars.
The last thing I expected was a proposal.
I approached the booth and greeted the short, balding man, with dark skin, dark eyes, and a jet black head of hair with a smile. He smiled back a bit too widely.
“Do you have a charity box?”
“Sure, here,” he said, thrusting the box towards me enthusiastically. “While you’re here, you can write down the names of your family and yourself, and we’ll pray for you at the Western Wall for forty days.”
I began filling out the sheet.
“You should ask for a blessing to find your soul mate.”
“Amen. I will.”
“…You’ll make a beautiful bride….”
I looked up. He was blushing.
“Um, thank you.” I felt myself blushing, but looked down and continued to write.
“Where are you from?”
“Are you Chabad?”
“Mhmm…” I was growing impatient with all of his questions, especially because it was causing me to lose track of the list growing beneath my pen.
“Wow, that’s amazing. I’m very close to Chabad.”
Silence. I continued to write, and hoped that the questioning was over.
“…So, do you have ‘someone’ back in New York?”
“Oh, so then, can I perhaps suggest someone for you?”
I looked up, chuckling. “But, you don’t know me!”
“So? You seem like a nice girl…smart, intellect, incredibly beautiful. I know someone who would be great.”
I looked at him with a look of disgust and did not respond. He didn’t seem to care.
“What about me? Would you go out with me?”
I looked at him, shocked.
“I only date Chabad guys, and I only go through a matchmaker. I’m flattered, though.”
“Why?! I can be Chabad! I can be anything you want me to be? You’re such a pretty girl…”
I had had enough.
“Ok, you have a good night now. Nice talking to you.”
I started to walk away, but his persistence continued.
“Would you marry me if I became Chabad? You’d have to move here though, because I won’t move out of Israel.”
I turned around.
“What’s your name?”
“Avraham, I wish you all the best, and I bless you to find your soul mate at the right time. Good night.”
With that, I marched off towards the exit. Ticket or no ticket, I couldn’t bear to be there any longer. As the exit closer, the march turned into a run.
On Saturday night, on Har Meiron with the thousands of others who had come to pray, I closed my eyes, held onto the gates of the grave and prayed with every fiber of my being for G-d to reveal the ‘right one at the right time.’ “When the right time comes,” I said quietly to myself between whispers of psalms, “I won’t feel the need to run for an exit like a maniac.”