Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Wall

Some musings from just before the end of Shabbat (checked and written up a couple of hours later, but the vague feeling of things making sense is still in the air).

The Haftara today, Aniya So'ara (Isaiah 54), mentions God's promise to build the walls of Jerusalem of "avne ekdach". The Pesikta de-Rav Kahana ad loc (ed. Mandelbaum, p. 297) says:
ר' ירמיה בשם ר' שמואל בר יצחק, עתיד הקב"ה לעשות שער מזרחי של בית המקדש הוא
ושני פשיפשיו אבן אחת של מרגלית
R Yirmiyah said in the name of R Shmuel Bar Yitzhak: in the future, God
will make the southern gate of the Temple - it and its two wickets - of one
piece of pearl.

This image is picked up by the Kalir, who writes:
שעריך אשר בשם מיוחסים
שוהם ומילואים היות טכוסים
תכונים ומקשיטה אחת נעשים
תפארת ושם אותם להשים
(שולמית אליצור, קדושה ושיר: קדושתאות לשבתות הנחמה לרבי אלעזר בירבי קליר,
ירושלים תשמ"ח, עמ' 46)
Your walls which are given names... and made of one stone...

The idea of a gate made all of one stone is fascinating. A wall is meant to be solid, as monolithic as possible. But every wall needs to be passed sometimes, and so walls tend to have opening in them. The laws of eruv recognise this, and make room for the eventuality of part of the wall swinging open at times. But the presence of this opening, of the gate, undermines the wall, opens the way for importune openings. But what if the gate could be all of one stone? As monolithic as, even more than, the walls?

Can we ourselves be solid and smooth, innocent of any cracks, and yet open?

Interesting, also, that the next date commemorated in Megillat Ta'anit is the inauguration of the wall of Jerusalem.
בארבעה באלול חנכת שור ירוש[לם] ודלא למספד
The fourth of Elul, the inauguration of the wall of Jerusalem, and not for
eulogizing on.


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