Ya gotta get up, Ya gotta get up, Ya gotta get up, Ya gotta get up this morning. (Oh, how I hate to get up in the morning; Irving Berlin)
Yes, this morning, we had to get up a 2:15 AM. Hustle. Get into the car and drive about 1.5 hours to our destination. To be there at 4 AM.
Except, neither of us checked to see if we could start at 4 AM. Sure, soldiers can. But, not us civilians. Because the man who takes the entrance fee won’t open the gate until 4:30. And, there’s no bathroom facilities there, either.
So, at 4:30 AM, we start our trek. From 1412 feet below sea level (the lowest point on earth) up to 200 feet above sea level. You think a 1612 foot climb is a walk in the park? First, this narrow (snake path is what it’s called) climb involves numerous switchbacks, 700+ steps, and is about 2 km long (6550 feet). The angle of the slope is about 50 degrees, to boot.
Oh, you do realize it’s also pitch black, right? The reason why we are climbing up Masada at this ungodly (or is that Godly?) hour is to reach the summit at sunrise. To revel in the beauty of the view.
And, then to pray the morning prayers.
And, I’ve got to pee. So, i won’t drink any water (despite the temperatures in the 80s already), because I can barely concentrate on climbing and balancing on the uneven surfaces.
I admit it. We stopped about 5 times. Not because of my son- but because of me.
But, we made it to the top. The only noises we hear are the birds. (Oh, and the running water from when I washed my hands after accomplishing the task my body was demanding for the past 85 minutes.) The vista is breathtaking. And, davening with that view is an extraordinary experience. We really can feel the presence of Hashem.
Since both my son and I have visited Masada often (although never before at sunrise), once we are done praying, we are ready to return to our car.
(In case you don’t know, Matzada [how it’s pronounced in Hebrew] was the site of one of Herod’s fortresses in the Judean desert. But, it’s significance is this was the spot the last of the Sicarii rebels against the Romans hid out for several years. And, the Roman Legions, while attacking every day with catapults, constructed a siege ramp for their troops to attack in person. Once they reached the crest, the Romans found that 960 men, women, and children had killed each other and themselves. Leaving the multiple Roman Legions a pyrrhic victory. [There were two women and five children found alive.])
We hightail it to the Dead Sea resort area. Where there is (now) a public beach. We pay to park (no more parking tickets for me). Change in the provided area. And walk to the sea. I reach as far as my privates, when my body informs me that it is not willing to become a hard boiled egg. I step back a little, until my calves begin to cry uncle (from the heat of the water). Dan stays in and floats (the only thing you really can do in such saline water). I find the showers to wash off the salt.
There are kids playing in the showers. And, once I go under the shower head and pull the release, I know why. The water is cool. The force of the water is tremendous and it feels fabulous as the water rushes over you.
We head back to the hotel, return the car, and loll around in the hotel room for a while. Enjoying one of the bottles of wine I bought.
And, then we head back to the Ben Yehuda street area. To find the place we were seeking. Valentino’s.
You see that’s the place where Dan got his first haircut. (It’s called an upsherin.) Jewish boys don’t get their hair cut from birth until 3. (In our circle, that means any time after one’s second birthday.) And, it’s the same barber!
Who gave Dan and I wonderful haircuts. With a comb and scissors, not like the shears upon which so many practitioners now rely.
A nice, kosher Italian dinner (Gavriella). And, then back to our hotel for the night.