Its hard to describe the feelings of night 6. The trip was well on its way and then Shabbat came along and for once, I didn’t feel like the only one in the world who decided to stop what they were doing and embrace the light of Shabbat. We arrived early and walked briefly through the old city right into the heart of it all. To usher in the Sabbath we went to a local soup kitchen that had hot matza ball soup ready for guests. However we were there to light candles. One by one each of us when up and lit a candle and then together we all said the prayer. As if the whole world froze and time stood still, Shabbat came in. When I opened my eyes a new excitement and overwhelming feeling fell over me. I almost started crying with how beautiful of a moment it was. We then walked down to THE Wall!!! It was huge and small all at the same time. The bricks that it is composed of are abnormally large and the height is too; however the width is nothing like great wall of China or the Berlin wall for that matter. Its incredible to be standing in front of a wall that has been tried to be destroyed over the years and was built up by the valiant men of the Bible. This really is holy land and a holy spot. When I finally was close to the wall I stood in awe. The wonderfully rowdy sounds coming from the guy side made me a little jealous that they were all singing and dancing so loudly and proudly-being Jewish. The woman side was a little quieter but I saw later some girls trying to start up a group. My one goal that night was to say Leha Dodi, my favorite prayer to welcome in Shabbat and thankfully I was able to. However I was quiet for a long while. I was caught staring at the stone, memorized and wondering how I was actually standing right in front of the Wall. The same wall that a note was put into over 3 1/2 years ago praying for my healing and my health. The same wall that I received a book for after my accident that fueled my fire even more to want to be here. And here I was all.
The moment my palm made contact with the cold rock I pulled my body in close. I lifted my siddur (prayer book) up and gently placed my head inside. I craved to speak, to speak to G-d in a place where Heaven is on Earth and yet I struggled. I felt unsure how to talk and pray to the Holiest being. I just breathed in the experience and slowly the loud songs and chanting became must more dull and even now I don’t actually remember hearing it the moment I closed my eyes and started to speak.
It is one experience that no matter what cannot really describe how amazing it felt. To be connected with past, present and future was awesome. To be there was incredible, as I had been dreaming of this moment my whole life and yet I didn’t really know what to expect. I bawled caught up in the powerful moment with thanksgiving. I thought alot about the fact that I was standing right there, in Israel, in front of the Kotel (the wall). I thought about the pain and tears I cried after the accident and all the struggles along the way. I recalled the headaches, misery and suffering that seemed debilitating at times. Every challenge that I had to accept into my life the moment I woke up after the accident. Every mountain I climbed and the journey to the top. Every fear I had to face, including surgery and being close to death. Everything that has brought confusion and frustration seemed to suddenly make sense. Every little detail of every day. Every tear, smile, laugh and step along the way.
All of a sudden I was here. I am alive. I healthier. I am in Israel. I am at the Kotel. It is Shabbat. A strange acceptance and understanding of my life came together in what felt like one quick second. Then I opened my eyes and realized more time had passed than I expected and the sky was darker, there were more people around and the prayers and songs from the other side seemed even louder. I couldn’t help but smile. I couldn’t even remember the words I said but the experience there truly soothed my soul. I felt at peace and at one with G-d and myself. I really had to reorient myself once I stepped away from the wall. There was a strong longer I felt and I didn’t want to leave. It literally felt like a magnet; the wall and I were opposite ends attracting one another. That may sound really strange but that’s how it felt. G-d’s power is strong and overwhelming at the Kotel.
Before our group left, we said Kiddush and then walked through the streets of the Old City and other parts to find our way back to the Hotel. Awaiting us at the hotel restaurant was one giant and fancy setup room made special for Shabbat with delicious foods and delicacies all over. People were singing and talking and laughing. Truly enjoying the simple moments of life. The Shabbat vibe was attractive, popular and lively.
Shabbat in Israel is easy and that made me love it even more.