Forty-eight years ago I saw the Kotel for the first time. As I stepped onto the plaza the tears started.
My plane had landed just a couple of hours earlier and the tour bus had taken us, a bunch of American college students, from Lod Airport (as Ben Gurion was originally called) to some spot in Jerusalem. We followed our guides through the maze of an Arab marketplace and down some steps and there it was. The Western Wall. For years it had been called The Wailing Wall and on that day the old-fashioned name was more apt for me.
Some of my tears were probably from exhaustion but most of them came from a deeper place. A place that I couldn’t fully understand at that time in my life. I was standing at the center of the universe, at the apex of Jewish history. I was standing at a spot my forebears could only imagine and dream of reaching. I was standing at the gateway of my future.
Yesterday, I again saw the Kotel, the first time since before the Corona restrictions began. This time I came in a car with my husband. When we approached security our temperatures were checked and we were waved through. As I stepped onto the plaza the tears started. This time, though, I knew why I was crying.
I was crying for all the death, sickness, loneliness, and distress brought upon us in the wake of Corona.
I was crying thinking of Azarya, z’l, one of our Shilo boys, killed in a car accident this week and leaving behind a widow, his three-year-old daughter, parents, siblings, and many friends.
I was crying with yearning to be able to return in another month with my soon-to-be thirteen-year-old grandson to celebrate his putting on tefillin for the first time.
Most of all, I think, I was crying with disappointment that I had come to the Kotel and not to the rebuilt, Holy Temple, that we pray for every day.
Crying can be therapeutic and positive but our Sages caution us on how we should use our tears. They should never be tears of despair but rather tears of hope.
Now home, I look back at my morning at the Kotel with gratitude and wonder. With that appreciation I must channel my prayers to longing for The Western Wall to be expanded and rebuilt into the Holy Temple we long for. May I help make it happen speedily in our time.
|The Kotel with the Corona separation booths|