Stromboli, Aeolian Islands

posted 24 Apr 2019, 12:41 by Charles Greene   [ updated 24 Apr 2019, 12:45 ]
Stromboli, Aeolian Islands
We humans tend to be visual creatures. Perceiving a story through physical senses will typically enhance it greatly, make it play in colour in our heads.
To quote rabbi William Shakespeare, all the world is a stage.
Standing in the ruins of the picturesque Greek theatre in Taormina, we prepare here excitedly for a full day on and around one of the most fascinating volcanoes on the planet.

Stromboli has been in pretty much continuous eruption for the past 2,000 years.
We sail out to the island of Stromboli - from here, those of us who opt to ascend the volcano are going to climb some 900 m above the sea and peek into the fire-belching crater. Then, we will come back and join those sailing around.
Nature can be truly humbling - our Sages even introduced a blessing recited when you witness a volcanic eruption. Baruch Ata... she-Kocho u-Gevurato maleh Olam, Blessed are You, oh God... Whose power and might fill the universe.
Three days after reading the Haggadah, we actually get to witness the smoldering lava, burning fire and steaming ash coming live out of the earth.
As we keep climbing, we encounter the first burning bush. Should we take our shoes off? Moses did, after all. Then again, he was explicitly told to.
Here comes the pillar of smoke by day, and pillar of fire by night. We smell the sulfur, see bits of ash flying in the air. And the roar, the low grumbling of the mountain's guts. You could hear it miles away. If that mountain were floating above your head, like Sinai above the heads of our ancestors according to the Midrash, would you have refused the Almighty's gentle offer of the Torah and its commandments?
We head home, davening Ma'ariv onboard. 
As the Bard tells us, the Shul must go on.
The prayer comes out quite inspired. We can't help but compare our own finality to the little part of something very, very big that we just touched.
Mo'adim le-Simchah you beautiful people. See you next week in the Promised Land. We just need to behave, lest the week turns into 40 years.