Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bridging the Gap

One sees so many different types of people at the Kotel. The tourists are from almost everywhere speaking a whole array of languages. No less heterogenic are all the Israelis. Some are there for the first time in their life for a relative’s Bar Mitzvah celebration. Others come as part of a field trip. There are those who come like the foreign tourists and then there are the regulars.
I can count myself among the latter as I am blessed to be able to pray at the Kotel almost every Monday morning. There are as many kinds of regulars as there are tourists; the tzedakah collectors, the busybodies, the crazies, the righteous, and the simple Jew who wants to talk to HaShem at the only remaining part of the Holy Temple.  
I pray I can be counted among this latter group also, for I know I am not one of the righteous and I hope I am not one of the busybodies or crazies. With time

I have come to recognize many of the women who also come to the Kotel on Monday mornings. One woman in particular captured my interest and we always smile at each other.

In some ways we are very similar and in others so different. We both cover our heads with scarves. Mine are colored and hers are always black. My mother tongue is English and hers is Yiddish. We both speak Hebrew. I live in a small, quiet village. Her home is, I believe, in the middle of bustling Mea Shearim. We both deem the Kotel an important part of our lives. We come and we pray and we never speak to each other.
Sometimes I come to the Kotel with a heart full of sorrow. Other times my heart is singing with joy. One morning last month I came with very mixed emotions. A good friend of mine had her first grandson born a few days earlier. On the same day her second son became engaged. I was so happy for her and yet there was pain mixed with the joy. Her oldest son would not be at the brit or the wedding. He had been murdered nine years earlier in a terror attack in Jerusalem.   
I truly believe that whatever HaShem does is for the best. Sometimes, though, what is for the best is truly painful. And so as I prayed at the Kotel that morning I did a lot of sobbing.
My “friend” was seated next to me and she may have sent me a sympathetic glance or two but I did not notice. When she finished her prayers, however, she did something totally out of character. She spoke to me. “May you be comforted.”
I smiled through my tears and did something also out of character. I told her why I was crying. We spent the next few minutes talking about faith. She spoke about the tapestry that looks like such a mess from one side and is so beautiful from the other. Trying to understand how HaShem works in this world is like looking at the wrong side.
In turn I told her what a miracle it was that I had come from so far away and was able to come to live in Eretz Yisroel and now visit the Kotel almost every week.
“HaShem loves you very much to let you be here,” was her response. We clasped hands and said goodbye. She left the Kotel leaving me with a warm glow.
It was raining the following week but the inclement weather had not scared away my friend. She was already in the middle of her prayers when I arrived. We smiled and I opened my prayer book. I was still in the middle when she rose to go but she did not leave without saying anything.
“May we meet at the Holy Temple, already today. Nothing is too difficult for Him.”
I gave her a “thumbs up” and nodded.
If only we could bridge the gaps between the ultra-religious and the national religious, between the non-religious and the religious, between Ashkenazim and the Sephardim, between the left and the right, then we could have the Holy Temple rebuilt even today. And then we could be a light unto all the other nations as we are supposed to be. 
 Eretz Yisroel: The land of Israel

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