For Love and a Prayer

hero image
Davening at Kotel
19 Jul 2007
Arts & Media

I lean on her and she leans on me. She is cool and fresh under my skin and I’m sure my skin is warm and flushed on her heart. I close my eyes and say a prayer. For what do I pray? I do not know. It is a prayer I cannot remember. It is a prayer much deeper than memory. It is a prayer for her just as it is a prayer for me. It is a prayer for what once was and what will once again be.

As my lips move and I acknowledge what I have always known, time begins to blur and present becomes past. The stone fades and I see her as she used to be…

She is standing there, majestic and proud, a source of peace and truth, a palace of dreams and reality, glittering with gold and a light that knows no darkness and is clear in its brilliance.

She represents all that is pure and good in this world. Milk and honey flow down the streets of her city and kindness is in its doorways and archways.

Smiling children run down the cobblestone streets. Studious young men get lost and found in pages of divine wisdom. The delicate faces of angelic women glow, radiance over the green hills and gold stones.

We are at peace. We love one another and our aspirations are artless. And there she is, standing, watching, guarding, a home for heaven and a promise for earth.

But, as I watch, things begin to change: it starts innocently enough – a hurtful word here, a soft slap there – but before long things get worse and worse. Families fight and split, friends curse one another and become enemies, smiles turn to tears and the streets no longer see sweet children but bitter people who walk in hunchback, stumbling and dragging under a life and future that gets heavier and heavier with every step.

Arguments and disrespect turn the glittering gold to icy steel, rifts and divides turn the shining sun to blackened night – and now we no longer look up to the hills but down to the valleys.

All the while there she stands, her eyes pained, her body burning, as she watches her children destroy one another, destroy themselves. All she stood for is crumbling: her holiness soiled, her purity defiled.

They call it exile, exiled from our land, from our homes, from our true selves. What was once simple has become complicated. Things have become fragmented. People are strangers to one another – and Divinity stranger yet.

Exile, where we are so numb that we can beat on our own hearts and not even feel it; where we are so out of tune that the destruction of all that was real is looked upon as something foreign, as if it was just another day on the calendar. Yes, exile indeed – exiled from a city, exiled from a sanctuary, but most of all, exiled of who we really are…

But now as I lean on her and she on me, and my lips move in a prayer and a hope, I remember that it is only our bodies that have been exiled, only our differences that have been destroyed, only our egos that have left the land – but our souls, our connection, our true Holy of Holies can never be exiled, can never be destroyed, can never leave the land.

And, as I step back from her, not to leave but to see things more clearly, my face to hers, her face to mine, I see the soul running free, the hope still alive and true: I see many different faces, from all walks of life, as they lean on her and she on them; I see unity and brothers hugging.

It was unreasonable hatred that destroyed her then and separated us from ourselves; unreasonable love will build her back up and unite us once again.

Mendel Jacobson is a 23-year-old writer, poet and journalist working for The Algemeiner Journal. Mendel’s education has found him in New York, Budapest and Jerusalem and he has been blogging for close to 3 years at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.