by Rabbi Moshe Kempinsky, Shorashim of the Old City
The prophets Ezekiel and Zacharia prophecied about a small trickle of water that will begin to come out of the Foundation stone.  As the water makes its way out of the Temple Mount it is meant to become a stream.  It is to wind its way through the hills toward the Dead Sea, on the way growing into a raging river.  When the torrent enters the Dead Sea, the sea itself is to be purified by its healing waters. 

Last night on the eve of this new month of Av, I witnessed the stream. 

I am not speaking about the stone of the Western Wall that seems wet.  And I'm not speaking about the water that was seeping
out of the Foundation stone several years ago.

I'm talking about a stream of people that may, in fact, be what the prophecies are referring to.

For sometime now my daughter has been participating in a monthly march with a group called Mishmar HaMikdash, The Temple Guardians.  They have re-instituted a custom that is at least 1,000 years old, which itself is based on another custom 1,000 years older.

During Temple times before the pilgrims would enter the Temple they would circle around it and stop at each gate and recite Psalms.  Many years later when it became forbidden for Jews to enter the Temple Mount, the "Geonim" (early sages) enacted a custom of circling around the gates that opened unto the Temple Mount.  For sometime now my daughter's group has carried out this custom.  On the eve of each new month they gather for study and then begin the prayer march around the Temple Mount.

The march makes no political statement or demands.

It is only about prayer.

Yesterday, before the march, a Palestinian terrorist tried to shoot at some Israelis at Damascus gate.  In the gun battle an innocent Palestinian passerby was killed.  I was sure that the march that night would be hampered.  They had slowly built up from the initial group of 20 to almost 180 over their months of activity.  They do not have money for public relations or advertisements,  so that the increase in participation is solely by word of mouth.  Last night, I feared, we would see a decline in the numbers.

As we gathered at the Western Wall Plaza, I was heartened that the number of participants quickly climbed to the 200.  I began to smile as the stream of people continued to arrive.  By the time we set out we were over 2,000 people strong. 

We walked slowly, singing from gate to gate, starting at the Shalshelet gate and ending up at the Rambam Gate (Mugrabi).  At
the Cotton Gate our approach was blocked by a police barricade.  On the other side of the barricade 8 surly Palestinians stood shoulder to shoulder to block our view of the Temple Mount.  Their faces were twisted in anger and their eyes burned with
hatred.  Our group simply continued singing the Psalms of Ascent, with no anger and no rancor.  Within minutes the strangest thing happened.

The Palestinian's faces softened and three of them actually sat on the ground.

At the next gate, which was shuttered up by the time we got there, we began to pray the "Mincha" (afternoon) services.  From
the window of the narrow alleyway leading to what has been named the Iron Gate, Palestinians had turned up their radios and T.V.'s  to drown out our singing.

We did not attempt to outsing them, rather we began our prayers.  As everyone quietly began their meditative silent prayers everything became hushed.  It took me a few minutes to realize that the din that surrounded us had been silenced too.

As the large group moved through the darkened streets of the Old City of Jerusalem, rumors of the "Jewish invasion" took flight throughout the alleyways.  Many of the residents came out into the streets, stared, and then returned to their houses and shut
the windows.

Not an angry word was expressed. 
Not a single stone was thrown.
Not a single rough moment.
All there was was song and prayer.

The prayers were not directed against anyone, or even over anything.  They were directed inwards in an attempt to reach
upwards.  It changed the participants without attempting to change those around us.  There is no more powerful a prayer. 

It was meant to change only the participants and by so doing the reality will be impacted. 

It is that type of prayer that will continue to make the stream a powerful river.

rabbi moshe kempinski (
TEL:  011972-2-6289-729
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