THE WESTERN WALL
Some of my most powerful individual experiences of this journey involved the Western (Wailing) Wall.
When we first went up to the wall at sunset on Saturday our second night of the trip, Rabbi Eliyahu McClean, a Rodef Shalom, or pursuer of peace, led a Havdalah service as Shabbat ended. He traveled with us throughout the trip,
After our ceremony we approached this ancient site of prayer said to be the walls of the original first Temple in Jerusalem. I placed my head on the wall. It acted as a magnet pulling an etheric grey smoke out of my body through my forehead and hands into the rock. Then up out of the wall came the pain of Jewish suffering throughout all ages – the six million slain in WW II, the Spanish Inquisition, the loss of the Temple – tears flowed and my heart opened sending peace and blessings to all those trapped in suffering. Then the tears became thoughtless and wordless as a vision of the ‘Holy of Holies’, the Ark of the Covenant in the first Temple opening on the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, arose, leaving me in wordless awe.
Later, while I was meditating in the Essene caves overlooking the Dead Sea at Qumran, I found myself spontaneously starting to pray for peace. Almost immediately I realized that this wasn’t how to plant the seeds of peace in Israel. What came to me was an experience with Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, with whom I’d lived in a group house in Berkeley long ago.
My daughter and I both needed Hebrew names at the time of her Bat Mitzvah. Reb Zalman told us each to meditate for a week on what quality we would each like to imbibe. She decided that she wanted to align with inner peace so he gave her the name “Shalva” – inner peace. That is what came to me at the Essene caves – that each of us in the group (and the area) who could completely come to a place of inner peace and forgiveness would plant that seed in this region so needing peace. I shared this with the group. Synchronistically, I also discovered that the rabbi we were with that night around the campfire (Rabbi Ochad) as well as Eliyahu, the great peaceworker who traveled with our group, were all students of Zalman’s.
Later back in Jerusalem our group joined with a weekly peace vigil overlooking the Western (wailing) wall. Each person passed a rose quartz heart-shaped rock which Felicity, a poet from England, had brought along on the trip, and spoke their individual wishes/blessings for peace.
Then we were asked to meditate for peace. As I started meditating, everything which was not at peace in me arose and collided with the peace attempting to establish itself within. For each one of these, item-by-item and person-by-person, I somehow found that place of forgiveness and hence peace within, through choosing to release each grievance.
At the end of the meditation I saw a golden white light emit from each of our hearts and come together laser-like at our joint center. One part of the united beam rose vertically and another shot out horizontally like an atomic bomb blast wind covering the region and the globe in peace. I had successfully found that place of peace within myself.
The group scattered for lunch, but I couldn’t. Instead I went to the women’s side of the wall and again placed my forehead on it for 45 minutes. The women around me engaged in their usual cacophony of weeping and praying. From the moment my head touched the wall, I was in a serene state of total and profound inner peace.
What transpired amazed me. Gradually I noticed that the women closest to me had stopped weeping and had fallen into silence. As time passed more and more women ceased engaging in the clatter of praying and crying. After about a half-hour I realized that the only sound I could hear anywhere was that of birds chirping. The inner peace I was experiencing had spread to the other women and to the wall itself.