The Wall of Tears
By Zalman Eisenstock
Once upon a time there was a wall. On the one hand, it was like any other wall, built in ancient times with huge bricks and mortar, and yet, on the other hand, it was unusual. This wall, according to legend, was made with the sweat and tears of poor people who volunteered to help with its construction. Hence, it became known as the "Wall of Tears." There was also a legend that near this wall there was once a beautiful building made of pure gold. People would come from all over the world to bring "offerings" on special occasions, and they would bow down to the Master of the Universe. But that was in ancient times. There is no remnant of that majestic palace except this very wall in our story.
Throughout the ages, the wall delighted in welcoming all who came: old and young, rich and poor, men and women, learned and unlearned. Whoever had a personal request or petition would draw near, touch its stones and cracks, and pour out his or her heart to be comforted. It seemed as if the wall had eyes of its own looking down, and a heart that felt the pain and joy of those who caressed it.
In life, however, and even in the life of a wall, things inevitably change.
While in its youth, the wall united everyone who came and was able to uplift them, in later years, everything changed. Different groups began to claim the wall for themselves. Each group exclaimed that there was a reason that the wall belonged exclusively to them. The elderly said: "These stones are ancient, and since we are so old, we are the true heirs to its legacy." The youth said, "Just as these stones bring hope to all who visit, we, too, are the hope for the world." The learned claimed, "Only we know the true secrets of these stones, and the ignorant cannot possibly comprehend its true nature."
These arguments reached a fever pitch, especially within the radius of the wall itself. No one noticed that the wall was shedding tears. They were more concerned about their own "rights."
The local authorities threatened to close the wall to all visitors if the accusations and shouting did not cease. Many proposals were offered. Some suggested that each group be given a day to visit the wall; others suggested dividing the area near the wall into sections for each group. Unfortunately, no agreement was reached, and the local council decided with sadness that on a certain date, the wall would be officially closed.
Before the official closing, however, two young people came to visit. They had heard much about the wall but had never visited the site. They packed their bags with a few meagre belongings and set out on their journey. They were amazed at how beautiful the land was. They saw both humility and grandeur in the hills and valleys, and basked in the warmth of the sun. They were excited to be nearing their destination. Finally, the day arrived.
These young people, a boy and a girl, approached the wall with awe. They had heard so much from their parents and grandparents that they paused before approaching the wall and pondered about what they should ask for. They knew nothing of the decision to close off the wall. Each held a small piece of paper on which they had written their requests. They stepped close to the wall, placed their youthful hands on its stones and cried for a long time. Before parting from the wall, they each placed their note in the crevices, and hoped that their prayers would be answered. They did not notice that soon after they left, their notes had fallen to the ground. The weather began to change, and drops of rain soon began to fall very gently, almost as if the heavens were crying.
An old man was watching the scene, and when he saw that the notes had fallen to the ground, he stooped down to pick them up. Since thousands place their notes in the crevices, he didn't ascribe any special significance to these particular notes, and he decided to simply discard them in the trash. At the last moment, he placed them in the pocket of his tattered coat where they remained for a long time.
The day arrived for the official closing of the wall. The town's officials had put up a notice that said:
People who have personal requests or complaints are welcome to come to the main office. These requests will be filed with the town's clerk, and they will be dealt with at the discretion of the town's mayor.
For many years, the old man completely forgot that he had the notes of the young people in his pocket. But one day, during his spring cleaning, he reached into his pocket and discovered the notes. He decided to bring them to the town clerk so they could be stored in the archives for posterity.
After filing all the necessary papers, the old man was about to leave when he turned to the clerk and asked if he could have a few last moments. He explained that he wanted to read the notes. This is what was written:
We have come on a very long journey and we are so happy to be here. We have heard many legends about your secret powers and magic, and so we decided to come to see you in person. We wanted to touch your stones and pour out our hearts to you just as our ancestors did. For us, you are larger than life itself. You have always listened to the prayers of old and young alike. We hope that you will hear our prayers, too. We come from a long line of nomads. We traveled from a far distance, crossing oceans and vast territory, yearning for a home of our own. Alas, most of our ancestors died in strange and foreign lands, with a dream buried deep in their hearts. Many years ago, a miracle occurred, and our relatives slowly began to return to this land. You, my friend, were the symbolic stones that they longed to return to.
Our one request is that you look down from above and grant health and happiness, love and peace, to our family and loved ones. And do not forsake our people who have come from so far and wide to return to you Do not cast us away in our old age but grant us life and vigor to enjoy the beauty around us.
The old man finished reading the notes, cried for the wall that no one would ever see again, and then handed the notes to the town's clerk.
The clerk placed the notes under lock and key, and assigned them a special number. Some say the notes are still there till this day. While the wall was closed to all visitors, many have been seen approaching the chains that block it off in order to gaze from afar and shed their tears.
from the December 2013 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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