Here’s something you need to know about Jerusalem. Other than people park/drive on the sidewalks so be careful.
It’s actually a smallish town. And public transportation and the shops close down for the sabbath. For those of you who have no clue what I am talking about, here is a crash course. On the sabbath, otherwise known as Shabbat or Shabbis or Shabbos, G-d gave us some prohibitions. Since G-d rested on the 7th day, so are we supposed to. This irons out to 39 types of work that a prohibited.
Forbidden on Shabbis:
- Binding sheaves
- Shearing wool
- Washing wool (Scouring/Laundering)
- Beating/Combing wool
- Making two loops
- Weaving at least two threads
- Separating two threads
- Sewing at least two stitches
- Tearing for the purpose of sewing
- Curing hide
- Scraping hide
- Scoring hide
- Cutting hide into pieces
- Writing (two or more letters)
- Tearing something down
- Extinguishing a fire
- Igniting a fire
- Applying the finishing touch
- Transferring between domains
If you want more details on this, check out the trusty Wikipedia, but suffice to say, some seem super relevant and some not so much but our sages and rabbis have made them relevant. Okay fine. I don’t want to get to involved in the laws but this means that all the public transport are shut down and we can’t take a cab to our destination. If you want to go anywhere, your only choice is to walk.
The point here is that on my very first shabbis in Jerusalem, which has been building a great anticipation, we are walking to the Kotel. Yes, my friends, we are headed to the Western Wall. Very exciting… except it is a 35 minute walk from school.
In America, either you go to a shul nearby or you don’t go. At least, that is how it is near me. Or frankly, some of us will just drive to shul anyway because the mitzvah of going to daven is more important to me than the prohibition to drive that has been derived from these 39 prohibitions on work. I don’t think either perspective is wrong, just different ways to look at the same coin.
So we head out for the Kotel. You don’t really notice the somewhat strenuous walk because the scenery is amazing. You pass new apartments and old domiciles, petrol stations and ancient roadways. Jerusalem is an amazing amalgam of modernity and old style. New ideas and strongly held ideals.
We took the snake path up the side of hill on which the Old City sits. The anticipation builds.
We walk along the walls and enter through the Zion Gate. I am ACTUALLY in the Old City!
Down the hills and streets, past the playground inside the Old City where Muslim and Christian boys play Football (Soccer to the Americans), and into the crush to go through the security to get to the Kotel.
The image laid out before me was breathtaking.
We pushed our way up to as close as we could get to the wall, on the women’s side, and did our evening prayers, the Maariv service. Despite being pushed and knocked over by over zealous Christian Russian bloc tourists, it was quite an amazing experience.
The walk back didn’t seem to be quite as strenuous… perhaps my self was lighter for the experience.
Originally posted at Talia, She Wrote