Just after the Tomb of Josef became a blackened ruin I returned to it one night.
What once stood as an enchanted familiar meeting place, the courtyard adorned by the old hearty Mulberry tree, cool slabs of marble flooring and then the inner chamber, intimate. Always rushing in reveling in the feeling of it, “Surely Hashem is in this place!” is the way I felt there .But that night I hesitated as the personal ambience was shattered, gone, violated. I hesitated to take even another step past the reeking gravel that lead to the hollow entranceway. I don’t know what was blacker, the night or the place. The front view from the cloister showed a torched outer wall and the roof had been blown off. The paneless windows gave a glimpse in to the piles of decaying garbage on the floor covered in burnt and singed pages of Scripture. The place we came to rest our heads and embrace, cry, pray, sing, speak to the Tzaddik was no longer the gold embroidered parochet but a heap of broken stones.
We were broken stones.
Someone soon after gave a torah in the candlelight there that night about Rabbi Akiva.
He said , “Just like the prophesy of tearing down comes to be, so will the prophesy of building up come true!” “After the destruction of our Holy Temple, Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Elazar Ben Azarya and Rabban Ben Gamliel went up to Mount Scopus to see the burnt and broken stones of the Temple. They saw a fox coming out of the place of the Holy of holies and began to cry. Only Rabbi Akiva laughed. The other Rabbis looked at him in disbelief . Maybe he was losing his mind? Akiva argued and won teaching them just like there was a prophecy about the Temple being broken, there is also a prophecy that it will come to be rebuilt. Rabbi Akiva was able to see that destruction serves as a foundation for building.
We came home even more committed to making this Land come to life as it says in all prophesies about Israel at the end of days.
The Ark of the Covenant was the most secluded, hidden in the innermost chamber of the Holy of Holies. It was made to hold the broken stone tablets that Hashem created, together with the ones that Moshe Rabbeinu carved. Am Yisrael took this ark to every battle (namely to Jericho but many more), to every major event ( like to Mount Eval right here outside our door). It stood as a reminder that what breaks down – becomes rebuilt. The shattering of the vessels gave birth to the creation of the world. We can’t always understand, but our faith takes us above our logic.
Things are always breaking.
Yet things are also always being built, being blessed.
Especially now. The Jewish presence in the heartland of Israel has more than doubled since that night that broke my heart. Construction is at an all-time high and people are building like no tomorrow. When visitors come and see how it has grown they can only say, “Surely Hashem is in this place.” No power in the world can stop it- and the secret of it is revealed to us in the contents of the Ark of the Covenant.
Shabbat Shalom, Leah