Talking to the Wall

Driving from home in Rishon Lezion en route to Jerusalem and its narrow and winding streets, I finally find a parking space in the Mamilla garage and take the elevator up to the plaza. I stop at Steimatzky to buy a newspaper and sit reading it at Café Café while waiting for my café hafuch to arrive.

From there I amble along the shops on both sides of the plaza, climb a steep set of stairs and enter the security gates leading to the Kotel.

Once upon a time I would hurry my steps to the Kotel, find a close spot and insert my petition in a niche among the other thousands of petitions which God never reads. I swayed back and forth holding my siddur in both hands and mumbling aloud personal prayers and requests.

To my anguish, none of my prayers nor requests have been answered in the past twenty-five years.

My dear friend, the Chabad Rabbi in Rishon, tells me that I must pray in a manner that my prayers will ascend directly to heaven. I know of no other way of praying except through heartfelt sincerity, kavanah, and the shedding of tears. And in spite of it, my petitions remain unanswered. They get lost somewhere on the way up to heaven.

Now I pass by the Kotel, standing in the plaza facing the wall but I no longer pray at the wall nor insert petitions in filled spaces. For me it is now a futility. It is like talking to a wall that cannot hear and cannot reply.

Yet for centuries, pious Jews have believed that miracles can happen when one prays at the Kotel.

I admire the faithful who believe that Hashem sees our afflictions and hears our cries but I am a modern Jew who does not accept the concept of an anthropomorphic God who has eyes, ears, hands and a mouth, despite the hundreds of references in the Torah..Va yedaber Hashem el Moshe laimor, etc…. and God spoke to Moses, saying ……………

How did God speak? Did Abraham and Moses, the prophets and sages, hear an actual voice or was it something that appeared to them as a vision in a dream?

I talk to God many times each day… not at the Kotel, but in my salon, my bedroom, my car. While riding I see a beautiful field of colors, flowers of the rainbow, and I say “thank you God for creating such beauty”. I praise Him for His wondrous works. The words flow from my heart into my lips and I open them and pray. Not from a siddur but from a humble and aching heart.

There is no response. Or perhaps one that I do not see, hear or feel. Or perhaps I am undeserving of a response from the Borai ha Olam….the Creator of the world.

I envy those who come to the Kotel, often daily, to pray. A long time ago I was one of them. But now, in my anguish, sorrow and pain, I have given up talking to a wall.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.