I recently returned from a business trip to India and the Philippines; the Philippines are six hours ahead of Israel, so that’s enough of a time difference to give you some pretty serious jet lag.
The other morning I found myself wide awake at 5:30am. Rather than lay in bed tossing and turning, I decided to get a head start on my day. I got up, studied some Talmud, and then sat out on my patio — wearing a jacket — and recited my morning prayers just as the sun was coming up — the time the Kabbahlists (Jewish mystics) say is the preferred moment.
It was a very prayerful moment — the world was quiet, the sunrise was beautiful, the scenery great. As the sun came up, I was ready to say the Amidah, and turned away from the view of the sunset to instead face the Temple Mount — which conveniently is well in the view from my balcony. I was struck with the significance how we turn our backs, so to speak, on the rising sun — the symbol that people practicing ancient religions worshipped — and instead faced a spot where once stoof a man-made edifice. A man-made edifice which was sort of a joint venture between the Jewish people and God. God agreed that if we built it, She would meet us there. The place itself is now gone, has been for nearly 2,000 years — yet we still turn in that direction when we pray, not in the direction of the more pagan symbols of the sun or moon.
This was Monday morning; Sunday morning I had done my morning run on the Tayellet, and around UN HQ at the Hill of Evil Counsel. Therefore I had it in mind to do my other "usual" course, a loop from my house up to the old city (descending through Gehinnom, "Hell" first), in the Zion Gate, cut through the Armenian Quarter and come out the Jaffa Gate and loop back home.
When I was saying my prayers and came to the line in the Psalm for the day which read "Walk all about Zion, encircle her. Count her towers, review her ramparts, scan her citadels," I knew I needed to do more morning run through the Old City — it was "a sign," as my sister would say.
Lauri was amused that the prayerbook provides me with guidance on where to go for my morning run.
Another "only in Jerusalem" moment!