Monday, August 23, 2010

Sacred Space(s)

So far, I have touched on a couple of elements that I feel are critical in experiencing meaningful prayer. One such element was that of space. And while I'm still working on a rubric, I want to discuss one space specifically, the one featured in the photograph above, the kotel hama'aravi (Western Wall).

Thursday morning I walked to the kotel for the first time since arriving in Israel. I had never been particularly moved before, but I had enjoyed the davening nonetheless. On Thursday I was brought to tears. I said Shma, one hand over my eyes, the other touching the cool smooth stones, not yet warmed by the sun. Friday night I participated in Kabbalat Shabbat at the kotel. I joined a group of soldiers, hareidim, tourists, and American students in song and dance. I knew none of these people, their names, or their histories, but we were united as our melodies mingled with others' and floated heavenward. No tears this time, but a spiritual connection all the same.

What is it about that space? On the one hand, its an open air synagogue with poor acoustics, a flaw which I think detracts from the enjoyment of davening. On the other hand, it's currently the closest you can come to the Holy of Holies, except for maybe a spot in the Kotel tunnels, and open your lips in prayer. Maybe I've answered my own question, but how do we carry this kedusha (holiness)into the world such that we might sanctify other spaces as well?

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