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Monday, 14 July 2014

Why we feel holy at the Western Wall

Megillah 3

Everyone who visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem for the first time has the same two reactions.  Their first reaction is physical, “Wow, it’s much smaller than I imagined it!”  The second reaction is spiritual – one experiences an inexplicable, deep feeling of belonging and yearning. 

What is this strange sensation and where does it come from?

Daniel writes, “And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision; for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves.”

Who were these men?  Rabbi Jeremiah (or some say, Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba) said: These were Haggai, Zachariah, and Malachi.  They were superior to him in one way, and he was superior to them in another. They were superior to him, because they were prophets and he was not a prophet.  He was superior to them, because he saw the vision and they did not see.  If they did not see, why were they frightened? Although they themselves did not see, their mazal saw.

Rashi explains the meaning of their mazal:  Every person has a ministering angel above watching over him and guiding him.

We perceive most things around us through our physical eyes.  That’s reality as we know it.  But the actual reality is that there is much more going on in the spiritual realm around us that we simply do not see.  Nowadays, in the age of radio-waves and wifi signals, we all understand that there are things in the atmosphere around us beyond our physical eyes.  So it’s not a huge jump to comprehend that there is an abundance of spiritual activity also taking place in the environment around us.

‘Although we ourselves do not see, our mazal sees,’ says the Talmud.   Our guardian angel is completely aware of the spiritual activity that our eyes fail to perceive.  That’s why you get this intense overwhelming feeling when you visit the Western Wall for the first time – it’s your mazal experiencing spiritual ecstasy due to the holiness of the environs and melancholy due to the destruction of the Holy Temple. 

Sometimes you feel you’re wasting your time sitting in shul if you don’t understand everything that’s happening.  Or why bother going to a Torah class that’s beyond you?  The answer is that you may not yet understand and appreciate what’s going on, but your mazal does.  Your mazal is reveling in every moment of the spiritual high and you are becoming more spiritually stronger for it.  So it’s well worth the time and effort of just being there and taking it all in!

Get involved in spiritual activities – prayer, Torah.  Your mazal will thank you for it!  And you will be spiritually richer for it.  And next time you have that sense of yearning or belonging, know that it is your mazal calling out to you asking for more!

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