Morning in the Old City

Originally posted on Lester B’s 2010 Israel Ride  blog. This is how he spent the early morning.

“Today was not so much about the ride”

The Western Wall is the remnant of Solomon’s Temple rebuilt by Herod before the exile in 70 C.E.  It forms the edge of the Temple Mount – the site on which Jews believe Abraham was tested by God in the story of the sacrifice of Isaac, and on which was the Holy of Holies – the inner-most sanctuary of the Temple, entered only once a  year, on Yom Kippur, and only by the High Priest.  This is the holiest site in the Jewish religion.  It is also the site from which Muslims believe that the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven, making it one of Islam’s holy sites as well.  Although Jews have prayed at the Wall throughout the millennia, it was closed to us after the Jordan captured that part of the city in the 1948 War of Independence, only to be once again available to people of all faiths after Israel captured the Old City in the Six Day War in 1967.

Only a small section of the Wall is exposed at street level today.  In recent years large underground sections of the Wall have been excavated, showing the genius of the engineers and builders of antiquity, and illuminating the connection of the Temple to life in the city and among its inhabitants.  There is a magnificent underground tour into the excavated site.  I learned why we revere the Western Wall over the other walls, some of which have also been excavated – because it is the closest to where the Holy of Holies stood.  And deep underground has been found the part of the Wall that itself is believed to be the closest spot of all to that hallowed place.  This is how I spent the early morning.

Read more from this “middle-aged geezer who is about to ride 300 miles in the desert to support some peaceniks who are trying to make water out of sand.”

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