So the big question for me on Shabbat was this: go to the Kotel for Friday night prayers like I always do, or not?
Friday morning, I went for a long walk via Geula to Machane Yehuda to buy stuff for Shabbat, and it seemed to me like something fundamental had changed in the atmosphere of Jerusalem. I know people were still being stabbed all over the place, but it suddenly felt much safer to be in the Holy City again.
As Shabbat came in, we made the decision to go down to the Kotel to pray, as has become our custom over the past year. Last week, when it was still Succot, there was standing room only at the Wailing Wall. This week, it was the emptiest I’ve seen it for a long while, although still full of people, notably a whole bunch of soldiers and goyim.
The soldiers were dancing and singing their socks off, and the goyim were doing all sorts of weird prayer circles, chants and mumblings. I sat down to say my Tikun Haklali (having dropped my kid off at her friend in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City) – and burst into tears. I don’t know why.
I prayed, met my husband, collected my husband and walked back home. All quiet, uneventful and actually quite nice. My kid had a plan to meet her friend again the next day, and I agreed to walk her in.
Shabbat morning, I went to Rav Arush’s shiur in the Chut Shel Chesed yeshiva, like I do some times, and I crossed Neviim street to go into Meah Shearim and on to the yeshiva.
It was pretty quiet.
Just before the shiur started, the roads exploded with the sounds of sirens, and we all sat there looking at each other, as the Rav gave a very rousing shiur about how the test of today is to walk – everywhere – with Hashem.
Rav Arush explained that the only thing that’s going to protect us is God, and to turn our fear of stabbing Arab terrorists into fear of the Almighty instead. I came home feeling pretty calm, and filled-up by the Rav’s words of wisdom and emuna, although still wondering about what had just happened to cause all the noise.
We ate lunch, and me and my daughter headed off to the old city around 3pm, her to her friend and me to go and do some praying at Kever David. Again, it was very quiet going in. I dropped my daughter off in the Jewish Quarter, headed over to the Zion gate – and then got stuck there for 40 minutes because they weren’t letting anyone out.
I said some Psalms, waited a bit, then went over to the Jaffa Gate – which the police had also blocked, and closed. Hmm. In the meantime, the sirens and the helicopters had started up again, and again I wondered what was going on, but I didn’t feel the horrible fear and stress that was literally crippling me for most of last week, Baruch Hashem.
All the tourists were pulling out their huge i-Phones and scrolling up and down to see what was happening. ‘2 stabbed in Neveeem’ someone said. ‘Where’s that?’ Hmm.
It’s the road that’s 2 minutes away from my house.
‘Someone stabbed at the Damascus Gate’ someone else rejoined. Then the kicker from a local Arab ‘They just killed 3 soldiers!’ he yelled out. Gulp!
And anyway, who’s the ‘they’, o Arab shopkeeper?!
They let me through the barrier (thank God, I’ve started waxing my eyebrows properly again, so no-one suspected me of being a terrorist…) and I came home a little thoughtfully.
Motzae Shabbat, I checked the news, and saw that no-one had been killed, thank God. The choppers are going crazy again overhead as I write this. Who knows what’s going on now. But thank God, my fear levels have reduced so much from last week, and I’m starting to feel like the situation is cope-able again, Arab terrorists notwithstanding.
I hope it lasts.