The Kotel. The Wailing Wall. The holiest place in the world. The place where religious and non-religious alike come to talk to God, or their higher power, or whatever they believe in. All religions, all genders, all nationalities — they are all there. And I was there too.
The last time I was in Israel, I wrote a column about what it is like to be at the Kotel. The women on their cell phones, the women who shove you out of your place against the actual wall. How you have to remain patient and not yell at anybody because if you are at the holiest place in the world, the place where God can really hear you, you need to be on your best behavior. I also noticed that there are people giving out little pieces of paper for you to write your “requests” on. I remember doing that years ago — now it seems to be a booming business. Though I wonder what happens to all of the notes when they end up on the floor.
In any event, I have learned that the best place to pray at the Kotel is standing in the back, away from the wall. There is too much pushing and shoving, and I am too old for that, and I don’t have a whole lot of patience. So I stand in the back, say my prayers, and then walk to the front for a quick check in and touch of the wall.
This trip, there was a lot of actual wailing at the wailing wall. It always makes me sad when I hear women, young and old, screaming and crying to God. Always hoping that their prayers are answered, that all of our prayers are answered — and if not answered in a way that we are happy with, at least answered in a way filled with compassion and mercy.
So it was my only shabbos in Israel, and I decided to wait for an opening at the actual wall. I had no schedule, no place to be, son #3 went to his yeshiva to check in, and I approached the wall with my little pink siddur in hand. I had bought this siddur a few years back, in Israel, and I was so excited that 1. I hadn’t lost it and 2. I had remembered to bring it with me. My daughter-in-law was impressed that I had it set to Tefillat Haderech (the travelers prayer). In any event, I am at the wall, saying my prayers, with as much respect as I could muster — and then, out of nowhere, I hear a loud “splat.” And I realize that a bird has pooped on my siddur, and also on my hand that was holding the siddur. I can feel the woman next to me looking at me, waiting for my reaction. And my reaction? I just started laughing. Really laughing, belly laughing. There were tears coming down I was laughing so hard.
What does this mean? I am at the holiest place in the world, the place where God is supposed to be — and a bird just pooped on my siddur!! Does this mean that God is pooping on my prayers? On my actual prayers? How can this be a good sign? But, on the other hand, it made me laugh. So is this God telling me that it is a good sign? That my laughter means that everything is going to be okay? I asked son #3 to ask his rabbis what this all means and the only one he got in touch with said I shouldn’t worry about it because it has happened to him more than once. But no one else got back to him, so I am just going to have to go with that.
What choice do I have really? Only time will tell what it actually means, but in the mean-time, it makes a really funny story. As for the siddur, I didn’t really know what to do with it, so son #3 brought it over to the men’s section and I ended up buying a new one for 110 shekels. So maybe God just wanted me to help out the Israeli economy a little bit more, who knows. But if you are a guy and you are going to the Kotel, do not use the little pink siddur…
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is enjoying her new siddur because the print is much bigger and she can read it with her glasses on!