The Spirit of Masada (by Joel Evans)
Today, I experienced what being part of a true team is all about. It started with us climbing Masada. Yes, we actually CLIMBED Masada. The guides gave us an option of climbing or taking the cable car. I had been walking about 30 minutes each morning for the last couple of months in preparation so I proudly raised my hand to identify myself as one of the climbers. As a show of solidarity for the team, my friend Naveh Levy, who was worried about shin splints from too much running, also gave in and agreed to climb. It was already after 8am, so we knew it was going to be hot. However, hot didn't begin to explain the temperature. Each one of the steps, which are actually not true steps and are instead carved into the mountain, felt like a mile. As we climbed higher, it got hotter. Even with plenty of water stops, I still didn't seem refreshed. As I continued my ascent up the mountain, I kept thinking, 'I can't believe my ancestors would be outside doing a lot more than just climbing in this heat.' That connection and thought process allowed me to continue to push myself. That, and the fact that my team was both ahead and behind me on the climb. When I reached the top after approximately an hour, no words can explain the feeling of accomplishment. I then heard the sounds of a bar mitzvah, as many in our group were getting bar mitzvah' d on the top of the mountain.
Climbing Masada had so much significance, I can't even explain them all. The most obvious one is that you can do what you set out to accomplish. The other one is the main message of Masada – live free or die. And the third, is that it's all about teamwork. Climbing, praying, rediscovering your spirituality — all of it rang true yesterday.