Wall of the Angels

Despite the darkness of the night, Jerusalem is a city that never stops moving. The people laugh in the faint glow of the street lights. The cars go by recklessly, rap blaring from open windows. I love it. I love the noise, I love the light, I love the city.

But there is one part that is silent, always silent. The stones sit quietly, awaiting the king's return. This pavilion is where prayers ascend to Heaven; this pavilion is one of the most dangerous places on Earth. It is the junction of faiths. The Dome of the Rock, gleaming in Jerusalem's never-ending lights…

And the wall.

The wall, the wall. Standing silently for two thousand years, the wall. God is not there anymore, but the wall waits for Him. The wall, the wall, where the surrounding noises of Jerusalem are surreal and distant.

But the wall isn't really silent. It is the cotel ha'maarav, the western wall.

The wailing wall.

Have you ever heard it? Have you ever heard the screaming sobbing of two thousand empty years? I have. Every time I approach the stone pavilion, the noise of Jerusalem is silent as the rising moaning fills my ears. There is nothing but the crying.

The wall is crying for the lost children of Israel. Two thousand years, we've been gone. Two thousand years since our God, our Father, pushed us out of the land. And for two thousand years, we have been empty. For two thousand years, the wall has wept for the dead of Israel, the lost of Israel.

To the wall, there are no lights in the night. There is no music playing in speeding cars. There are no people in Jerusalem to the wall. To the wall, there is only the emptiness of two thousand years.

But the wall waits, for no one can hear it. The wall waits for the people to start listening, to hear the crying. The Wailing Wall waits for the Temple to stand again. The wall was once the outermost western wall of God's only Temple—just a wall. We are taught that it was the wall built by the hands of the poor, and because God loves the poor, it is the only wall that outlasted His wrath.

Just a wall, this is as close as we've ever known to holiness. And it wails; it wails. As I go near it, I can hear the chorus of weeping rising. The wall weeps, while far away in Ramallah, Rachel weeps for her children as well. And then, with dawn, the men begin coming to touch the wall and pray, and they weep—they, the lost souls, the Holocaust survivors, the devout and faithful. They weep for themselves and the fortune of the world, they weep for the children that died around them, they weep for the sick and the hungry.

But when the night is warm and still, with not so much as a breeze, Rachel's laments don't carry over to Jerusalem. When maariv, the evening prayer, has been said, the men have all gone home. When the night is warm and still, the wall is alone.

It was on a night just like that I landed in Jerusalem, in the silent pavilion. I left my wings unfolded as I walked towards the wall. I knelt down and touched it. Just the brush of my fingers against the stone was enough to put me in tears. I am in the presence of God every day, and still I've never felt His presence as it is in those stones.

So I knelt, rocking back and forth on my heels, crying with the wall. And, as I always do when I visit the wall, I whispered to it.

I promise…There will be more than a wall one day, in this bloodstained land of my fathers…