Chronicles from Home

Part  1

"At The Wall"

September 6, 2003

I already knew how tears can be shed.  Or I thought I did.  I have experienced tears in my life, tears of joy, of mourning, of pain or deep emotion.  I didn't know that in Israel you can have all of those at the same time.

I found out when I went to the Kotel few days after we arrived.  I stood there, with my siddur, my hands touching the warmth of the stones and, as always, my first thought was that they were alive, crying for our downfall, much more sincerely than we cry for the loss of the Beit Hamikdash.

And then, it started.

I first heard a older lady sobbing next to me.  I have never heard anything like that.  She was crying for the entire Jewish people, for our long, endless exile, for our unceasing suffering, for our martyrs -- past and present.  And she was crying for those who were butchered on their way home from the same Wall last week, after completing their Tehillim.

She was crying for all of us. 

It was getting difficult to read the words in my siddur.  I was fighting the tears back.  But I tried.  I thought I would make it to the end when I heard it!  Right above our head, at the exact place of the Holy of the Holies!  The muezzin calling to the prayer through a loud speaker phone.  Like a tidal wave, submerging everything that could stand in its way.  I felt the tears in my throat, my all body was shaking.  What did we do to ourselves?  Have we deserted from our path so much to be punished this way?  Have we sunk so low to have our own voices drowned out during our prayers at our Wall.

I looked up at the Wall and all His desolation hit me, a black sadness came upon me and I put my forehead against the stones.  How many women stood right there, crying and feeling the cold emptiness of our exile.  While I tried to finish davening,  my hands were looking franticly for a tissue in my purse.  And then, I felt it.  A strange feeling overwhelmed me, relief and gratitude, hope and confidence.  At that precise moment, the tears I was trying to hold so badly poured down my cheeks and my sobbing couldn't be stopped.  My fingers had found a metallic, flat, small object,  they grabbed it and hold it tied. 

It was the key of our future.

It  was the key of our Redemption.

It was the key of our house in Jerusalem. 

Sara Brownstein


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