In the Passover story, the Children of Israel do not embrace freedom until they have demonstrated their faith in G-d by dabbing sheep's blood upon the doors of their homes and set out on a perilous journey against the chariots of Pharaoh's army. My exodus from the army, to the tune of the week long break I received for the duration of the Passover holiday, came with a similar background. The day before the holiday, several hours before our officer informed of us our long anticipated vacation, I was stretched out on the ground, bleeding profusely with my arms stretched out to the heavens. The bleeding came in the course of a drill allowing our unit's medics to practice on the rest of the guys. While my history with needles is not pretty, I figured 'tis better to grin and bear it now than go out to battle someday in the future with medics lacking basic vein poking skills.
Following the blood came the perilous journey. And while the details are classified, it was a masa that put our values on our back not unlike the sun-baked matza the Children of Israel carried out of Egypt.
The masa ended near midnight. Minutes later our commander informed us that our regilah, a once every four months week long vacation, would commence on the morrow and last through the end of Pesach. Freedom had arrived.
My entire immediate family--parents, siblings, significant others--arrived in Jerusalem for the holiday so the holiday, and my week long vacation, had a very traditional vibe. Except for the family yoga sessions, led by my younger brother, far fitter and in tune with the Asian practice than yours truly. Another less than traditional practice found me in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, shopping for a crucifix. Clad in my kippa, I fended off the shopkeepers offers of a star of David and insisted, in my all but forgotten Arabic, that I was looking for the cross of Jesus, preferably in silver and Roman Catholic! After a long search I was all but ready to purchase a crown of thorns instead when a suitable cross caught my eye and my search was finished. Further adventures would follow with this cross, obtained on behalf of an overseas friend, providing me with a necessary distraction from the training that awaits after this blessed week long break.
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