13 Tishrei 5781 / Thursday, October 01, 2020 | Torah Reading: Sukkot
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Ode to Jerusalem    

Ode to Jerusalem

Oh Jerusalem, my precious and beloved Jerusalem! Despite the decades of living here in the King's palace, it is still thrilling...


Yesterday afternoon, I took a break from my writing and - yes, would you believe it! – walked to the kotel to daven mincha. I found myself almost dancing through the streets of Jerusalem. Oh, how I love this city's charmingly innocent Jewish children who, with their jump ropes and ball games, crowd the sidewalks, making them almost impossible to navigate. I dart around three Chassidic men who are standing on the corner, engrossed in conversation. As I pass, I hear one of the men say, "That contradicts the Rashi…" I smile. I am so proud to be part of such an Am kadosh, a Holy Nation, who find every opportunity to discuss Hashem's Word, even on busy street corners! A few minutes later I pass two young mothers, elegant in their simplicity, enjoying the crisp unusually cool spring weather. Their faces are faintly familiar, and we nod a silent greeting to each other.
As I turn off of Shivtei Yisrael Street toward the Old City, I have to catch my breath at the site of Yaffo Gate rising from the valley. Oh Jerusalem, my precious and beloved Jerusalem! Despite the decades of living here -- here in the King's palace -- I still find myself overwhelmed with gratitude for the immense privilege of being counted among this city's residents.   
I walk along Kikar Tzahal toward the Old City, pass through Yaffo Gate and turn to the left, toward the Arab Shuk, the Arab marketplace. I am not interested in the wide array of items for sale as I rapidly maneuver my way through the crowded bazaar while trying not to slip on the treacherous cobblestones. I am rushing, it is getting late, and I want to daven mincha before sunset.
I pass the booth piled high with huge mounds of colored chalva, and then past the shoe store, and the drum store… I am getting closer! I turn right and walk down the stairs, past the guards and the checkpoint. Finally, I am facing the Kotel!
It will soon be sunset. There's no time to waste! I quickly wash my hands and rush – almost run – my heart aching to stand before the Wall and pray to my Creator.
Baruch Hashem, I am privileged to live in Jerusalem. May Hashem grant all of us, each and every precious Jewish soul, the privilege of residing in the Holy city of rebuilt Jerusalem, quickly, and in our days. Amen.
Editor's Note: This article was written some years ago, when it was still safe to go through the Arab shuk as a shortcut to the Western Wall. This has not been the case anymore for quite some time already.
However, appreciating the priviledge of living, or even visiting Jerusalem, never changes. Our people prayed for this ability for almost 2000 years! Just to see the Holy City, even once in a lifetime, is something many of the greats of the generations never achieved. And yet we can acheive it, relatively easily... and even if this year with Corona those outside of Israel cannot come, still you can YEARN to see Jerusalem. Imagine it. Envision it. Want it!
The holy Baal Shem Tov says that wherever you mind is - that is where you truly are. The soul actually goes there, and is influenced as if you were actually there! If you place yourself at the Western Wall, wherever in the world you might physically be, then you are truly IN JERUSALEM. Pray to Hashem, imagining yourself standing in front of the ancient stones. Tell Hashem how much you want to be here, and truly it will be counted for you as if you actually were.
When I first made Aliyah and moved to Jerusalem, I begged Hashem that living here should be new and thrilling every day, just like it was the first morning I woke up to Jerusalem stone and realized that this was my new home... I try to thank Hashem every single day for the priviledge of living here!

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