Surrounding the walls

Seeking ties to the Temple, regardless of religious or political beliefs.

kotel 88 (photo credit: )
kotel 88
(photo credit: )
As the sun sets and the sky shifts from a pale, powder blue to an intense orange, a large crowd can be seen gathering at the back of the Western Wall Plaza. Armed with flags and loudspeakers projecting music, excitement ripples through the 3,000-strong group of mostly teenagers. For seven years, Sivuv She'arim has gathered people from across the country to march around the Temple Mount in celebration of the new Hebrew month. Uniting them is a love of the Land of Israel and a desire to speedily rebuild the Temple. Sivuv She'arim founder Rabbi Tzvi Rogin envisioned the march as a means for all Jews to forge a connection to the Temple Mount, regardless of religious or political persuasions. The group marches around all four sides of the Temple Mount, beginning at the Western Wall, entering its four gates, passing through one gate on the northwest corner, and then continuing through three more gates on the northern edge. Due to security considerations, the group walks on the road below the southern wall to reenter the Old City. This custom can be traced to the times of the Geonim, the great rabbis of the sixth to 11th centuries. The rabbis tell us that before the Israelites first entered the Land of Israel, they were instructed to perform three commandments: to appoint a king, to abolish any remnants of Israel's biblical enemy, the nation of Amalek, and to build a house of dwelling for God. Though the Temple was destroyed twice, the rabbis firmly felt it imperative that it be rebuilt. They would circle the Old City walls with the intent of subjugating themselves before God, asking for mercy and forgiveness. The goal of El Har Hamor, the organization that currently oversees Sivuv She'arim, is twofold: to bring to life the words of the rabbis and rebuild the Temple, and to open the Gates of Heaven to prayer by dancing and singing on the original grounds of the Temple. Though some may look upon a boisterous group of 3,000 Jews dancing through the Muslim Quarter as slightly unorthodox and problematic, Boaz Ya'akovi, one of Sivuv's organizers, assured <In Jerusalem that the group remains respectful of local inhabitants. "We don't bother the Muslims who live nearby. It could be that once or twice out of our seven years they have shouted or one of us has knocked on a door, but neither have ever done anything dangerous, and then the police always come in and act quickly. We march with the hope of rebuilding the Temple. Even if there were no Muslims living in those areas, we would still follow the same path." "Walking around the four corners of the Temple Mount in happiness and bursts of song and dance, praying on the ground closest to the gates of the Temple of old, we can feel our prayers lifting toward God," says an El Har Hamor member. Rachel Inlender, a first-time participant from the US, says: "It was a truly amazing experience, having the opportunity to daven [pray] while facing Har Habayit [the Temple Mount]. Seeing all these people dancing together, I feel like I belong. It was really very moving and I would love to do it again." The group culminates its rounds by passing through the Dung Gate, exuberantly singing "Yibaneh Hamikdash" (the Temple will be rebuilt) and dancing with linked arms. Sivuv She'arim takes place every Rosh Hodesh eve. The gathering for the month of Av took place on July 31. For more information call: 1-700-707-021.