Jerusalem: A Thursday Morning Intermezzo

“Moda Ani le’fanecha…I give thanks to You, living and everlasting King, for You have restored my soul with mercy.  Great is Your faithfulness…Raba Emunatecha.”

As I recited these first words of good morning prayer to G-d, the sun was shining over Jerusalem, for a long while it looked like it would melt away the clouds.  I wasn’t the only one who thought this because from the shul (synagogue) behind our apartment building I could hear the noisy, cheerfully noisy, melodic darbuka-drums, tambourines and yes! a violin, accompanying a Torah scroll as it was brought outside for the Bar Mitzvah boy’s first reading by sunlight.

The boy’s recitation of the blessings ahead of reading from the Torah filtered into my recitation of Pzukay d’Zimrah (Songs of Praise).  These intertwined liturgical sounds met the mixed Hebrew-Arabic-Hebrew-Arabic shouted instructions from a team of Jerusalem Jewish, Jerusalem Muslim construction workers. They were working together running a long cumbersome pulley lifting fresh building materials up several floors to a nearby construction site.

Not wanting to be disrespectful to G-d by being only half focused on my prayers to Him, I paused, so that I could listen to the Bar Mitzvah as he read the first words of Parshat Va’Yeara (Genesis 18:1 – 22:24) Va’Yea’ra Elav…And the L-rd appeared unto him by the terebinths of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day, and he lifted his eyes and looked…v’yar…”

Rising out of the distance, puncturing the morning’s calm, blocking out the boy’s voice, came the sound of sirens.  Quickly my ear judged the speed, separated the sounds, detected the different directions of two ambulances making their way to nearby Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

Then from the shul I heard, “Maher! Quickly! Cover the Torah, let’s get it inside…”

I had been listening so actively to the sirens that I hadn’t noticed that G-d sent down a gentle drizzle, which splattered it’s raindrops over my prayer book…the morning’s intermezzo was at an end. Is this just rain, or could these be His tears? Does G-d cry for us?



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