So, today, we were told we were going to "Hell." Really, we were going to the Valley of Hinnom. Many refer to this place as Gehenna. This is actually a wrong interpretation of the Hebrew. Ge in Hebrew means valley and Gehenna is actually Ge Hinnom, which is the Valley of Hinnom. I can tell you, and you can see the pictures when they are posted to my webshots account, that this is the closest I hope to ever get to what people call Hell. Now, granted, it was 95 degrees or hotter and in Jerusalem there are rarely clouds. So, it was pretty darn hot. And, if you don't drink water in Jerusalem, surely you would die, probably in Ge Hinnom.
Of course, the fact that Jerusalem is a city of hills and valleys, and you are always walking uphill, adds to the heat factor. But, we learned a lot about this valley. Basically, according to legend, this was the place where bad people were sent before they could descend to Olam Haba, the dwelling place in which you joined your fathers and mothers. If you were really a bad person, you would have to wait approximately 12 months. It's now a place for outdoor concerts, although I couldn't imagine going to a concert there in the dead of summer. It's hot! (as Carlie would say)
From there, we walked up to the Old City, and saw a film about 1st Temple Jerusalem. We were able to learn about the City that David built, and see the walls of the city that Hezekiah added and built. It was a pretty hokey video, but it explained a lot. We then spent about an hour on text study, looking at the Monarchy of Hezekiah and the prophecies of Isaiah. It was very interesting stuff!
As I was walking around the Old City, I had a very meaningful conversation with one of my classmates, Daniel Bar Nahum. He said something that will remain true in my heart for as long as I live, "You can't be an example to your congregants, you must be a Madrich (guide) for them." What he was explaining was that if I tried to live my life by example, I would never be happy enough with the example I was showing. It is better to live my life and guide my congregants and those I come in contact with. This way I can help them find their own way without compromising what is important to me and my family. It was a wonderful conversation, and I am thankful to Daniel!
I then walked around the Arab Shuk for a while and bought a Shesh Besh (backgammon) board. It's a really fun game, and I am looking forward to playing often. Before I forget, I think it's important to add that last night we saw ancient burial tombs from the 1st Temple period. The site we saw was one in which they found bones, jewelry, and many other things. It was pretty exciting to look in and see the caves the bones were buried in! They even found a priestly amulet with one of the priestly blessings!
As we were on our way to experience the Israel Baseball League, our bus was hit by another car. Fortunately, we weren't that delayed. What a funny incident...to be driving in Israel and actually hit a car. The baseball game was very fun. It was a little league sized crowd, but they were really into it. I bought a really cute blue glove for Carlie, and we took pictures of it, so you'll see those when I post them. The HUC students that attended were even asked to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 5th inning stretch. They only play 7 innings in their games. What's cool is that if the game ends in a tie, they have a homerun derby to decide the winner.
So, tomorrow off to Tel-Aviv for the day to relax and hopefully buy a clarinet! Pictures from that trip will come later!