These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Windows on Jerusalem

Posted on November 15, 2011 by Shibley

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Throughout Jewish history, since the destruction of the Second Temple, up to the present day, Jews have longed for a return to Jerusalem. At weddings, in blessings after meals, in the t’fillot, in song, and in literature, the Jewish soul yearns for Jerusalem, the center of the Jewish universe.

Two Shabbatot ago, I was in Efrat, where I stayed by one of my teachers from Pardes. The synagogue where he davens has windows on either side of the aron kodesh. The synagogue is on the northern most end of Efrat, and therefore has a view of Jerusalem through those large windows. Just past the hilltops on which sit the Arab cities of Beit Jala and Beit Lehem, is Jerusalem itself. Having lived in Jerusalem for well over a year now, mentioning Jerusalem in my davening has taken on a different tone, since I am on the inside looking out. At this point, I’m not sure that I necessarily like the new tone, but my experience in Efrat has reminded me of the kavanah with which I used to say those brachot. I was able to see Jerusalem and long to be within its embrace, to return to it, even though I was only going to be outside for about a day and a half.

I hope that our daily lives can impact the experience of our own prayer, in a way that changes kavanah, or sheds new light on “old” words.