Lessons from the Kotel

Lessons from the Kotel

Hello all. I am taking a break from wedding columns to write this one. I had the extremely good fortune of being able to go to Israel for the holiday of Sukkot. I have been talking about this trip since son #3 was a freshman in high school. All I ever wanted to do was go to Israel for Sukkot with my family when son #3 was here for the year. I have been talking about this for four years, possibly more. So a few months ago we booked our tickets. Of course, son #1 couldn’t give us a straight answer and he still didn’t know daughter-in-law #1 at the time so, in the end, unfortunately, it was only four of us instead of the six of us, but still it was very wonderful. Anyway, not the point of this column…

Ok, so I am in Israel and I have this “thing,” well, I have many “things,” but this one in particular is that I need to go to the Kotel as often as I possibly can. I just feel that if I am in Israel, I should go there because we always talk about it and dream about it, and if I am here, I should go there. And to the Kotel I went. And that is where we get this column.

You get to the Kotel and it is very crowded this time of year. Hundreds and hundreds of people, of all sizes, shapes, colors, genders, religions — many, many people. You need patience. Lots and lots of patience. I like going by myself because then I can find the quickest way to weave through all the different types of people. I can move as fast as possible. This is not so easy to do because, in addition to all of the people, there are also people with strollers. Usually double strollers. Lots of them. When I go with husband #1, it takes even longer because he likes to take his time and see if he knows anyone who he can wave to and smile at. He is just that type of guy. Me, not so much. So I finally get to the Kotel, and it does not disappoint.

The first time I was in Israel, when I was 16, it just looked like a wall. But you realize its significance after a few short moments. Because I overthink things, as I walk toward it, I wonder if God is up there listening to thousands of requests and prayers all at the same time. I wonder if he asks his assistants for an aspirin or another cup of coffee. “We have got a tough bunch this morning,” God must say. And even when I am right in front of it, and my eyes are closed and I am having a conversation with God, I apologize to him for being another person who is asking for things. I thank Him for all he has given me, the ability to be at this most holy place, I thank him for bringing my son and his wife to the chuppah, I express my gratitude, but also apologize for asking for more. “I know you have a busy afternoon, but….”

But while you are standing there, at this most holy place, eyes closed, feet together, with respect and concentration, some person smacks into you like you are not even there. They stick their hand in front of your face, they start talking on their cell phone, usually in another language, someone is taking a selfie, someone is running up to a friend they haven’t seen in years and starts screaming, “Oh my gosh!! Rivkie!!! How are you?!?!”

This is the test. This is the ultimate test. Are you going to open your eyes and scream at the person for disturbing your very intimate conversation with God? Are you going to give the person on the phone a death stare and make some nasty comment? Are you going to yell at the mother of the kid who just stepped on both of your feet to get in front of you? No. You are not. Because it is a test. A test from up above at the holiest place in the world. A test to see how grateful and respectful you really are. How much your words really mean. And a lesson to take with you, no matter where you are…wow, look at me all spiritual and philosophical.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday! Back to wedding stuff next week…

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is wondering if all of the chocolate she bought in Israel will be confiscated at the airport, and if not, how long it will take her to eat all of it now that she has an empty nest.

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