Thursday, March 6, 2008

Spirit of the Kotel

Visiting the Western Wall of the Temple Mount (Kotel in Hebrew) in Jerusalem is, for me, a most spirited and spiritual experience. It's spiritual because this place, while merely a wall of stone, is in truth the central focal point, the closest we can stand to the Holy of Holies, an connection to the past that cries out with a sacred intensity. It is spirited, because each moment there is fraught with political and social complexity...I do have to focus myself and breathe in the stones deeply in order to find the peace I desire in this place because I am so easily distracted by the (sometimes) technical aspects of the visit. Men and women are not allowed to pray together at the Kotel and this frustrates and annoys me...I must remind myself to be in my own moment, in my own circle, and find my own peace.

Many people wash their hands before approaching this holy site. This is not about cleanliness, but rather about ritual purity. I love the image of washing away the rest of the world to step into this place.
There are many old women who spend their days at the Kotel, giving blessings and collecting tzedakah, money for the poor. This woman blessed me and my children, asking about my husband, my life, and offering her prayers in exchange for my tzedakah money.

The stones of the wall are old and worn, from generations of caresses and kisses.
It is customary to place notes in the cracks of the Kotel, personal prayers that are too precious to be said aloud, too precious to let float away on the wind, but rather clutched tightly in the hand and then wedged tightly into the holy stones.

God is everywhere, but I am different wherever I go. At the Kotel, I feel a difference in me as I stand shoulder to shoulder with the past...and I find a different connection, a different spirit.

See what others find spirited this week...

11 comments:

Domestic Spaz said...

The last photo you posted of the prayers in the cracks really touched me. Thank you for posting it. :)

HipMomma said...

Very cool post, Phyllis.

carrie said...

beautiful take on spirited!

Megan said...

what a lovely post, phyllis; thank you for sharing this experience.

Golightly said...

Incredible pictures once again, I have loved ALL your pictures from Israel. It is an amazing place, wish I could visit some day.

The Egel Nest said...

Both times I went to the wall were very moving...it is hard to describe to someone who has not been there though...

I left my prayers int he cracks :)

thanks for sharing :)

Bradley
The Egel Nest

Killlashandra said...

I love this sentiment, "I love the image of washing away the rest of the world to step into this place." Goes very well with your post and your photographs. What an amazing experience to have.

Bonnie said...

Wow ! I love the second photo !

Andi said...

I am so moved by this post- and how truly sprited a place- I was touched by ALL of these photos, but something about washing away and the ritual of cleansing / purifying really speaks to me...like preparing yourself to have this experience. Then, of course the prayers in the cracks of the wall...there are no words for how that makes me feel. Thank you for sharing such an amazing experiece with all of us.

Stacy said...

Wonderful post and pictures. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us...it is very moving. These are definitely spirited photos.

melody is slurping life said...

The stone wall, I'm trying to put my thoughts into words, but can't. Amazing and beautiful, overwhelming, yet embracing. I can't imagine how it must feel to actually stand there, to touch it, have it touch you.