Hi everyone. This morning I woke up a little early to head up to the Temple Mount again, to join with my friend Dennis in prayer. At the entrance they have heavy security screening that is like the airport. Last week, I made it through with no problem, but today they searched through my bag, saw my camera gear, and decided that I am a photojournalist and I'm not allowed. So, I couldn't go up. Turns out security was extra heavy today and I didn't yet know why. My friends (Dennis was meeting up with a larger group) went up and I went over to the Western Wall. I made it through that security screening with great ease and so I made my way to the Wall.
Earlier I had heard that there would be a priestly blessing at the wall and it sounded interesting. Cameras were allowed to be out this time (I came yesterday and wasn't allowed to take pictures, but I did manage to get one of the women's prayer area). There was a large crowdgathering and I just went and stood in the midst of it. Photojournalists were all around (I assume they were by the multiple expensive cameras around their necks) and lots of security. In the crowd, I began to listen and observe the people praying. My Hebrew vocabulary is very limited (but growing. I learned how to say grandmother and ice cream) and I could understand a couple of the prayers.I could hear the Shema (Hear Oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One), and the opener to most prayers "Baruch ata Adonai Elohenu Melech a Olam (Blessed art Thou Oh Lord our God, King of the Universe). An interesting not, whenever they would say God or Lord, they would change the words a bit, so as not to say His name.
Something interesting to just watch were the people praying. Groups would gather around scrolls of Scripture and pray in their own groups. Someone would lift up the scrolls and each person would kiss it. Fathers were with sons (I was on the men's side of the plaza). Every now and then, someone would speak over a loud speaker and lead the entire crowd in prayer. It was pretty cool to see because it normally seemed a bit chaotic. Then when someone would speak over the crowd, everyone got silent and then would say amen unison at various intervals. Then at one point everyone got really quiet and then someone began praying over the loud speaker. In all this time I never saw who it was speaking. I believe this is when the priestly blessing was being given. It was awesome to see as fathers place hands on their sons heads, to bless them.
This blog entry is getting long. The above is enough, but you could read below for the p.s.
P.S. To be honest, in watching all of this, I was wondering about God. I'm nervous to ask or say any of this. Does He hear these prayers? I believe from what Jesus says in that God sends His blessings on both the righteous and the wicked. A sadness came on me again as I stood there watching. Someone told me something recently, and it began to sink in. When you come to a Jewish gather, it seems like something is missing. It seems as though there is somewhat of an expectancy that seems to be unmet. I could hear an echo in my mind of something Jesus said when at the Temple. John 8, He says "for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins". It seems He was pleading with the Pharisees to realize Who He is. I don't want to sound judgmental, but this was echoing in my mind. God wants to save them. God wants to embrace them. God wants to draw them near.