Shmuel Rabinowitz
Rabbi of Western Wall and Holy Sites of Israel

A collective broken heart

We came together at the Western Wall in prayer and tears, and pierced the heavens. May that unity see us through this excruciating time
Tens of thousands participated in a gathering of prayer and unity at the Western Wall, the largest since the outbreak of the war. (courtesy)

It is difficult to describe in words the show of unity at the prayer gathering that took place at the Western Wall on the evening of Rosh Chodesh Shevat, marking 100 dreadful days of pain and mourning.

It is hard to articulate the heart-wrenching moment when thousands of Jews from all streams, sectors, opinions, and backgrounds sang and prayed together: “Our brothers, the entire house of Israel, those in distress and captivity, standing between the sea and land, may the Almighty have mercy on them, and bring them from distress to relief, from darkness to light, and from subjugation to redemption.”

It is difficult, but it is necessary.

Because this remarkable gathering was not a one-time event. It is not an anomaly in the course of history. The multitude that came to the Western Wall from all corners of the earth was the truest, deepest, and purest expression of the spirit of an entire people.

I looked around me during that lofty moment, and I saw many people, all with one heart, and a shared prayer for fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, or grandchildren imprisoned by the enemy. Many came to be with them, to share their pain, and to pray with them from the same broken heart that unites every Jewish heart in times of crisis.

I witnessed an entire nation praying for the well-being of the soldiers fighting in recent months against an enemy seeking to destroy and kill us from the youngest to the oldest. I heard a cry from the heart for the peace and healing of those injured in this terrible war.

I believe with all my heart that the tears we all shed during the prayer at the Western Wall were not in vain. I believe with all my heart in the power of prayer to open the gates of heaven and sweeten the judgment. And more than anything, I believe that the incredible unity revealed among us in these challenging and uplifting days will stand by us even in the toughest trials.

Jerusalem was destroyed because of baseless hatred, but it will be rebuilt and established thanks to unfounded love. “Jerusalem, built up like a city that is united together, where the tribes went up, the tribes of G-d.” Only by connecting all the tribes will Jerusalem be built.

During the prayer for the captives, I saw the tribes of G-d standing together. I pray that the merit of this great unity will stand by us, and we will witness the return of our hostages to the land of our forefathers, the healing of the wounded, and consolation for the families of the holy fallen.

The above remarks were first said following the large prayer gathering at the Western Wall Plaza, on the evening of Rosh Chodesh Shevat.

About the Author
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz is the rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites of Israel, appointed to the position in 1995, by then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and the chief rabbis of Israel.
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