Lesson #133: How to Behave at the Western Wall

I had been warned, by an old friend who happens to be a Jew, that I should be prepared to tour the Old City in long pants and sleeves that covered my elbows. For the sake of modesty, he told me, especially since I was going to be visiting the Western Wall, which is THE most sacred place in modern Judaism. I had been prepared for that aspect since my friend in Jerusalem is, for all her being a graduate of our college, more on the conservative end of Judaism than not, especially as regards her dress.

I was, therefore, unprepared to see tourists in short skirts and tank tops. There is actually a security gate through which you must pass where all your stuff gets x-rayed and you are sent through a metal detector — which happens pretty much every time you go anywhere where there are large numbers of people in an enclosed space — where there’s a sign posted with the basic rules of attendance. I find that somewhat odd. One would think that anyone making the effort to go somewhere that’s particularly holy, said people would know how to behave, whether or not they subscribe to that religion or not. I’m no more likely to play football at the Western Wall than I am to do it in a cathedral somewhere.

Anyway, where I was really going with this was that I learned that when you are finished with your prayers (or in my case, delivering a message to the wall for the aforementioned old friend), you’re supposed to back away from it. It’s something you catch quickly from observation and then just repeat. Once we had backed ourselves up, I asked my friend why that’s the approach and the answer is actually quite simple. You back away because you’re not supposed to turn your back on God.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s