שמע ישראל יי אלהינו יי אחד

צִיּוֹן, בְּמִשְׁפָּט תִּפָּדֶה; וְשָׁבֶיהָ, בִּצְדָקָה

עוּרִי עוּרִי לִבְשִׁי-עֹז, זְרוֹעַ יְהוָה--עוּרִי כִּימֵי קֶדֶם, דֹּרוֹת עוֹלָמִים

16 August 2009

Shir HaMaalot

When I was a boy I travelled to Eretz Yisrael for the first time for my brother's Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel. It was one of those bus tour extravaganzas. Luckily it was not a propaganda tour...everything in Israel is perfect and great and nothing bad ever happens was not the message. It was an historical journey that left me with an incredible understanding of the fact that this is our home. The places mentioned in the Torah exist, it's not just some story in a book somewhere.

I went to Elonei Mamre, where Avraham built an altar and hosted the three angels; the cave of Machpelah where he is buried with his kin; Rachel's tomb; Solomon's pools; Masada, where the first rebellion against Rome ended by our own hands rather than being taken in chains by the Romans to be enslaved again. And of course we went to Har HaBayit.

We were not limited by theological restrictions on where we could go there. Since the precise location of the Holy of Holies is known to but a few, most religious Jews will not approach the areas where it might have been as only the High Priest could enter.

In my opinion two things are true:
  1. Muslims defile the Temple Mount on a daily basis, keeping Jews from praying there, cursing us and our return to our land. This being true, our presence should be made to sanctify it as best we can in this time.
  2. The Shechina has abandoned this place. We sanctify this place for what it was, and deservedly so...it is a holy place. But it is empty, and if you truly wish to mourn for Zion, and yearn for the Shechina's return then you must see it and feel it to truly understand what happened.
So our group ascended the stairs to the upper plaza where the dome sits. It is a beautiful structure. It has to be to make up for the absolute desolation that exists inside. The Muslims cannot understand this. They think this is the spot where Mohammed ascended to heaven so they decorate it with tiles and lamps and rugs. But no adornment can hide the fact that inside this place is the ultimate emptiness.

I took off my shoes before entering and left my group to start wandering to find the best place to see the stone. There has been debate over time as to whether this is the Foundation Stone. It looked to me that if you ripped it from the earth the world would come apart. Whether it is or not, what I experienced there was tremendous. Did I feel anything, a holy presence, a vibration of energy? No.

When you sit in a forest you cannot help but feel life's vibrations all around you. The trees, plants, animals...all of it is alive and you can feel it. On Har Habayit, in the presence of the stone I felt nothing but desolation.

What I felt was a complete emptiness. It was as if it was a non-place. As I wrote at Shiloh Musings, it felt like an empty vessel, a great something waiting to be filled. The Shechina is not there. There is no trace of that Holy Presence. It has been abandoned utterly. But it waits.

My group was getting ready to leave. Our next stop was the tomb of David melech, king David. Can you imagine? Going from the stone to the tomb of David? Tremendous. My memory is that before I left I took one last look and said the Shema under my breath. I don't know if I can trust that memory or not. The whole experience there was like a dream, like being alone on the moon. It is an impression I have so perhaps I did. Whether I did or not, Jews should do that.

The stone waits. And while it is in this state of desolation I think every Jew who can should ascend, and if they can get into the dome and see the stone they should. And they should close their eyes, focus their minds, and under their breath recite the Shema, and bring comfort to this empty place while it waits so that when the Shechina does return, and we are no longer able to enter, it can be said that we brought comfort to the place while it waited, and perhaps made it feel a bit less empty.

4 comments:

  1. May HaShem comfort His people speedily with the complete rebuilding of Jerusalem and His Holy Temple.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautiful post. Have you ever been to Shiloh?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have not been to Shiloh, but I would like to. What a blessing it must be to dwell where the Mishkan stood. I heard there was a rock throwing incident just south of there.

    You are all in my thoughts and I pray for your safety.

    ReplyDelete

So, nu...what are your thoughts? The usual rules apply...stupid, bigoted Jew hating nonsense will be deleted. Pearls of wisdom will be gladly accepted.