Everyday there are new protests about Israel trying to “Judaicise” the area around the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The Sheiks, the Waqf are all trying to politicize what was originally the place of the two Jewish Holy Temples. I have even read with curiosity how European Foreign Ministers and press reporter’s with Christian backgrounds describe the site as “what the Jewish people SAY was the location of the Holy Temples. I wonder when those folks go to church on Sunday do they argue with their Priests and Ministers to change the gospels because the man that they believe is the son of God went to that Temple Mount 3x a year.
Last week in his Cairo speech President Obama implied that Jerusalem should be come an international city, he is dead wrong.
I am not here to argue history or tradition, no jokes about the Muslims in Israel mooning the Temple Mount when they face Mecca to pray (although it’s true). No discussion about how Moshe Dayan was the villain of the mount etc. I don’t have to argue about ownership because I have been there. And as corny as it may sound to anyone who has never been there, I felt the presence of God at the Temple Mount.
All my life I had this overwhelming desire to go to Jerusalem and especially the Temple mount. I never understood that urge until I stood in its presence, about three years ago when my family and I finally took a trip to Israel (my wife had been before but it was the first time for the rest of us).
As soon as we drove through the hills and I got my my first peek at Jerusalem, for the first time in my life I felt comfortable in my surroundings. For me Jerusalem felt like home, despite the fact that I had never been there in my life. The strange part is that I knew where to go and how to get around this holy city without looking at a map. There were times that I would thell my family that I had a shortcut to travel where we needed to go, and my wife who had been there before would tell me I was crazy (true but irrelevant)—I was always correct. Everywhere I went, I knew where we were and its relation to the Temple Mount. And to be honest the lure of the Temple site was stronger in Israel than ever before.
Now at this point, anyone reading this who has never been to Israel is probably calling for the guy with the straight jackets to take me away. But ask anyone who has been there (anyone who believes in God) and see if they felt any different.
On our second day in Jerusalem, we were finally going to the Kotel (the Western retaining wall of the the Temple Mount), which with rare exceptions is the closest any Jewish or Christian tourist can get to the Temple Mount (and if they can get on top of the Mount no praying is allowed for non-Muslims).
The whole family got up early, I packed up my Tallit and T’fillin and took off with our guide into the Old City. Yossi, our wonderful guide took us all over the Old City, He knew how important the going to the Kotel was to me, yet rather than go directly to it he teased me with, “Its right over that wall, we will see this movie first, lets go to the burnt house etc” I was getting very frustrated, but he was masterfully building up my expectations. Finally we walked down the wooden stairway and walked through the gate of the Kotel Plaza, I was overwhelmed by emotions that I had never felt before.
All my life I felt this longing to go to the Kotel to and I finally knew why. You see, everywhere else you go in Israel, you can feel the presence of all that has gone on before you, King David, Avraham, the tribes, the two kingdoms and on and on. That is about culture and history. When you visit the Jerusalem it is about God. It is about being able to feel the lingering presence of the Shekhinah (God’s presence) that left the Temple over 2,500 years ago..
That’s when I learned that the dispute over the Temple Mount was all political, all about delegitimizing the Jewish presence in Jerusalem. Because I was there. And with my ten year old son holding my bag, I celebrated my life long dream, I wrapped the T’fillin around my arm, placed it on my head wrapped my Tallit around my son and me, and prayed to my maker. But it felt like much more than praying when I was at the Kotel, Those words of Hebrew seemed to have meaning like never before. I was it was connecting. Connecting with the God of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yakov. That “urge” I had felt all my life, was more like an invitation from my Maker, “Come Visit so we can talk.”And while God is everywhere, for some reason only a Rabbi can explain, I could feel his presence much stronger in Jerusalem and especially at the Temple Mount.
There–that’s it, that’s my proof, thats how I know that the President is wrong. Nothing scientific, nothing that will work in a court of law, or in an international dispute, I felt this strong connection to the Lord at the Kotel. There is not another place in the entire would that has even come close. Why did I feel the connection? There is something in the DNA of a Jew that acts like a homing device. Just as a compass always points to the north, the heart of a Jew always points to Jerusalem.