INSIGHT OUT By Adina Morris
Recently, I had the privilege to be in Eretz Yisroel. I love going to Israel for many reasons, but mainly I love going because I truly believe the air is different there. I refer not to the physical quality of the air, rather, to the spiritual quality.
There is a stronger connection to purpose and meaning while in Eretz Yisroel and somehow I feel like I inhale that enhanced purpose and meaning with every breath that I take when I am there.
I also love the ability to daven in many of the very special and Kadosh places throughout the land. We had the privilege to go literally north, south, east and west on our trip and therefore found many of those special places to daven.
On this trip I noticed something that I never noticed before. I am almost embarrassed to even admit that I never noticed it before. However, I think it is due to my previous lack of maturity and life experience as well as the circumstances that I previously found myself in.
On this trip, we went to the Kosel, many times in fact. My husband likes to joke that all I need is to park myself on a bench at the kosel and I will be completely content. In reality, it is not such a joke;)
For those of you who have been blessed with being at the Kosel before, you may understand this a little quicker than those who have never been. So please indulge me while I explain what it is like to be at the Kosel for the uninitiated.
You walk up to a huge smooth stone plaza that is spread out before you with a high stone wall at the very end reaching the entire breadth of the plaza. About halfway down the plaza there is a divider, Mechitza, separating the men and women praying. As you proceed down your end of the plaza, you will notice many people scattered about. They are walking towards the Kosel with you, or walking away backwards out of respect from the Kosel. There are people sitting on chairs silently meditating over a prayer book, or not so silently chanting Psalms out loud for all to hear. As you move further down this plaza, you will find lined up against the wall a stream of people praying, swaying, silently, loudly, weeping, crying, sniffling, as well as smiling and taking selfies;) There are also numerous people placing small little piece of paper with messages into the cracks and ledges in the stone wall.
It is an eclectic group of women (I refer to my side of the plaza now) who have come to pray at the wall and beseech Hashem for kindness and mercy as they unburden their woes and share in their celebrations with Him. They are from all cultures, religions and nationalities.
As I sat before the wall, I always like to go right up to the front if I can, I too prayed to Hashem, asking for his kindness and mercy. I too began to weep, cry and sniffle as I shuckled along to my Tefillos. I too placed my prayers, as well as those of my children, on little pieces of paper into the cracks and ledges of the stone wall.
I always feel such an unburdening when I daven at the Kosel, as I daven for myself, my husband, each of our children and their needs, our parents, family members, friends and community members. Indeed, I daven for all of Klal Yisroel, and for Hashem too. For the rebuilding of His home and the relationship He has with His spouse, Klal Yisroel, and all of His children, each one of us.
But something else happened this time. Usually, I am very engrossed in my own woes and celebrations, that frankly, I do not hear any of the people around me, let alone see them. Sometimes I feel a little nudge of an arm or hand reaching out over or to the side of me, trying to reach the wall, to touch it. This can be annoying. However, this time, I stopped and thought outside of me and my world. I heard the woman next to me crying and beseeching Hashem in the same tone as me, with the same crying and sniffling, with the same pain and tears streaking down her face. I felt the desperation of the women trying to reach the wall that they so much yearned for the support of, as did I. For the first time, I think ever at the Kosel, I thought about all of the other women who were davening around me. I always davened for others, but this time I also davened for those I didn’t know. I davened for all of the women who were yearning for connection and groping in the seemingly endless darkness of their struggles, pain and suffering. I think I heard them, because I too was one of them. We were all standing there, individually, yet collectively. And Hashem was holding all of our pain simultaneously.
I davened to Hashem, not just for the people in my inner circle and world, yet for these women too, complete strangers to me, but not strangers to my pain.
This was truly an overwhelming feeling. A feeling of embarrassment, that I never thought to think of the woman standing right next to me. But also a feeling of overwhelming gratitude for Hashem’s ability to hold all of our pain, and not to let even one of us drop. He hears all of our tefillos, He feels all of our tears, He holds all of our pain close to His heart. And He heals all of our wounds.
I stopped to daven for all of these women and for the women who might have pushed a little to just be able to touch the Kosel. How desperate they must feel and yearn for connection with Hashem? How desperate are each of us in trying to reach out and feel Hashem’s presence in our own lives?
It is much easier to feel Hashem’s presence in Eretz Yisroel, at the Kosel and all of the Makom kedoshim, there is no doubt. But Hashem is still here with us outside of Eretz Yisroel too. We just may need to nudge a little and reach over a little harder to gain that connection and feel that strong arm of protection, comfort and support that we all so desperately need.
I davened that Hashem see those nudges as precious as tefillos and not to hold them against any of the women yearning for Him.
It is always difficult to say goodbye to the Kosel and the closeness with Hashem, before we head back to our regular lives. This time was no exception. I just hope that I took with me a little extra strength, an extra nudge, to hold me until next time.