Seraphic Secret in Israel, 2017

Fearlessly, Karen makes her way through the Arab souk towards the Kotel.

Karen and I spent the last days of Succos in Israel. Mostly we stayed in Efrat with Karen’s brother David and his lovely family. But we did manage to spend one day in Jerusalem where we headed straight to the holy Kotel, the Western Wall, the remnants of the Second Temple.

Capitalism is a great motivator. Arab shopkeepers do a brisk business in Judaica and Christian tshochkes. Stupid T shirts are big sellers. When I aimed my iPhone at this T shirt the Arab shopkeeper ran up and scolded me: “No picture unless you buy.” I turned around and walked away. He ran after me. “I kidding, I kidding.” I turned back and snapped this picture. And didn’t buy the t shirt.

 

If you follow this blog you know that I have a fascination with doorways. In the souk there were many blue doors, blue being the color of choice among Arabs to ward off the evil eye and bring good luck.

 

The temptation at the Kotel is to take photographs of pious Jews immersed in prayer. But I was fascinated by this man who was clearly not traditionally observant and yet he stood and prayed at the wall for at least ten minutes. Notice his tattoo, a clear violation of Jewish law. And yet, here he was pouring his heart and soul into the ancient and holy stones. I was deeply moved, and wanted to ask for what he was praying. Alas, I was too self conscious to approach and ask.

 

An ancient Jewish minhag, tradition, is to leave a kvittel, prayer note, embedded in the stones of the Kotel. I peeked at a few: “Please restore health to my mother Chana daughter of Yosef and Rivkah.” “Please look kindly on my new business. I cannot fail again.” And finally: “Please God, find a husband for my beloved daughter, a widow with five children. I know how hard it is to find a good man for a woman in her situation but my daughter is a good and pious woman, a devoted mother and daughter.” This last note brought tears to my eyes.

 

Of course, we visited the grave of our beloved son Ariel Chaim ZT’L. Karen lovingly cleaned the dust from the marble. At our son’s grave, I recited Tehillim, Psalms. But mostly I stood in silence, memories roaring inside my head.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted October 19, 2017 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    I was fine reading all of the captions until I got to the end, then you brought tears to my eyes (again). Thoughts and prayers for you and Karen…

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    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted October 20, 2017 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      Karen and I appreciate your kind words. God bless you and yours.

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  2. alterbentzion
    Posted October 19, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Welcome back! Did you have two days of Simchas Torah? (I can’t imagine how fun but completely exhausting that would be.)

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    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted October 20, 2017 at 7:03 am | Permalink

      Yuntif in Efrat was wonderful. I love that we have the Birkat Kohanim every day.

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