I stand at the Kotel, the “Wailing Wall”
I see her frozen tears and her eternal smiles
Her passing clouds with many sighs
Her pitiful laughter at those who wanted to destroy her but did not succeed
I read her holy books and hundreds of thousands of names
From Egypt, Babylon, Rome, Spain, Hungary, America and Africa
I hear the cries from Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Dachau
And the playful delight of today’s Jewish children in Yerushalayim’s courtyards
I see the auto-da-fes in Spain, the Crusades, the pogroms and the Roman torture chambers
Mothers crying for their children
Women of all ages
But also the Israeli flag with King David’s star atop Jerusalem’s stones.
The thousands of written prayers in the crevices of the Kotel’s walls
I encounter the crying soldier, the sobbing stone-hard businessman,
The movie star, the confused politician, the housewife, and the Yeshiva student
And I realize that all those insufferable and defiant anti-Israel world leaders have not yet learned that with all their power, they can’t impose their will on these heavenly stones
Yeshayahu stands beside me
A little further on, Rabbi Akiva
My teachers, Maimonides, Yehudah Halevi, Hillel, and Shamai
Behind me the Gaon of Vilna in deep thought
The Baal Shem Tov in exalted devotion
Women, men, children, Mitnagdim, Chassidim, Ethiopians, Yemenites, Sephardim, and Ashkenazim
Jews of all colors
There is no time, no clock, no early or later at this Wall
Just broken eternity
I stand but cannot grasp
I say my tefilah
Then the truth descends on me:
I have never left this place.
I find myself here for thousands of years
The return to Zion is unprecedented
A happening sui generis
The creation of the State of Israel is an astonishment
The survival of the Jewish people a shock
A breach in a world where people do not want to be surprised
And therefore Israel irritates
The mighty Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian conquered the world with much noise, pomp and splendor
The Greek and the Roman followed with their drumbeat and war chariots and vanished
Others came and held their torch high and burned out
The Jew saw them all, surpassed them all and became what he always was: immortal
O’ that Israel’s enemies would just wake up!
When will they learn that Israel never left its homeland, but were forced out against their will?
And that Titus and his army were ultimately defeated by a people of orphans?
By an ever-dying people which never died.
There is no victory for those who fight a nation which kept praying for thousands of years to return to its capital which emotionally they never left.
Where their bodies were resurrected while they were turned into ashes at Auschwitz
What to do with a people which mourned for its Temple and rebuild it in its hearts while sitting on the floor in deep mourning for thousands of years?
How to deal with a people which covers its dead with the dust of land of Israel while their tombstone stands in hostile countries?
A people who for thousands of years have broken a glass under the marriage canopy to remind them that Yerushalayim has not been fully rebuild.
How many millions of those glasses have been broken for this eternal city?
How to defeat a people whose home in exile turned into a portable city?
Who took it to every corner of the world in which they found themselves and kept living by the teachings of Moses and the Hebrew prophets ?
And came home
And teach Torah
Through Israel we perceive the Infinite
The God of Israel
Israel and its people are indispensable
They are God’s witness in history
In a world where the ordinary has become a hallmark and where indifference has turned into a selfish complacency.
When will the world wake up?
*Partially inspired by Abraham Joshua Heschel and Mark Twain
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