Listening to the intense crashing of the sea water against the walls of the grottoes, I appreciate the natural phenomenon chosen by King David to bring us closer to God.
As a licensed Israeli tour guide, people always ask me what my favorite place in Israel is. In truth, it is hard for me to really give a specific place that I would say is my absolute favorite, but if I had to pick a region, I would definitely say the north.
When I say the north I am referring to the areas that we call the Galilee and the Golan. For the sake of brevity, the Galilee is a mountainous region in the north of Israel usually divided into the upper and lower Galilee. The Golan is a large plateau in the northeastern corner of Israel formed from volcanic rock. It is one of the most beautiful and lush areas of the country, filled with natural and archaeological treasures.
With that said, I am beginning a series of articles on Israel’s north that will uncover some of the beauty that is on the surface and beneath.
In the northwestern corner of Israel, right at the border with Lebanon, is a natural wonder called Rosh Hanikra. Upon arrival, one is immediately overwhelmed by the gorgeous bird’s eye view of Israel’s coastal line. While this view alone would be enough to make a visit worthwhile, what waits down below is a real treat.
You board the cable car with anticipation for a short but steep ride down the cliffs of Rosh Hanikra. Once you reach the bottom, you can see a short film about the history of the area and an explanation on how the caves, known as grottoes, were formed. Here is a short summary: The primary substance of which the cliffs are made is chalk, which is a very soft rock. Over the years, underground earthquakes created small cracks in the cliffs, allowing water to enter from the rain and sea. Eventually, the cracks became enlarged and the constant lapping of the sea water penetrated the rock and carved out caves that allowed the sea water to rush in.
After viewing the short film, you will make your way over to the grottoes for a beautiful walk in the cliffs. It is absolutely stunning. The name Rosh Hanikra means the “head of the grottoes.”
Walking through the grottoes, one hears the crashing of the sea and begins to appreciate the power of nature. Whenever I am in Rosh Hanikra, I always think of a verse from Psalm 93: “More than the roars of many waters, mightier than the waters of the sea—You are mighty on high, God.” The metaphor King David uses to describe God’s might is the rushing water. As I stand gazing at the grottoes and listening to the intense crashing of the sea water against the walls of the grottoes, I can appreciate the natural phenomenon David had chosen to bring us closer to God. We live in a technological world that is often very distant from nature. Experiencing places like Rosh Hanikra can bring us back in touch with ourselves and with God.
By Rabbi Moshe Rothchild