I had been yearning to daven at the Kosel for the entire week. Tourists always think it is amusing when they ask me how often I get to the Kosel and my answer is that I try to go once or twice a month. They are sure I will tell them daily. But life kind of gets in the way. The Kosel is a half-hour drive away and parking is elusive. Public transportation would take over an hour. I make peace with my frequency to our nation’s holiest place in the world.
But this past motzei Shabbos I was pining to go. We had just passed a significant milestone and I wanted, needed to connect with my higher self. With Shabbos ending so early, there was plenty of time to go and be home at a reasonable hour. None of my family members wanted to join me. I was disappointed by their lack of enthusiasm, but I focused on being able to sit and daven at the Kosel.
I called my daily walking partner to see if she would like to replace our evening walk’s location to around the Old City. She would have loved to but her family was making a surprise anniversary party for one of her married kids. I put down the phone and thought if there was anyone else. I called another friend who frequently goes to the Kosel on motzei Shabbos. She also regretfully declined. She was off to the engagement of the son of old friends.
I am accustomed to going places on my own and don’t usually shy from just hopping in my car and going, but the inky black sky plucked cords of longing for companionship. Somehow I just wasn’t in the mood to walk along those cobblestone roads alone. I figured I would try one more time and if not, the desire to sit and daven at the Kosel was stronger than the feeling of loneliness. With my third try, I struck it lucky. Brochah gave it some thought and agreed it would be a lovely idea.
The drive was smooth. I parked in my secret spot behind Teddy Park just opposite the Jaffa Gate. We cut through the park but stopped to watch the lit-up fountain. Brochah was mesmerized. The water comes up from the ground in spurts tall and short, rising and falling to the beat of the music while the gold lights add a bit of majesty. I had been there and witnessed this splendid sight several times, but Brochah had not. We watched a few minutes and then walked the 15 minute walk to the Kosel.
At the Kosel, we agreed on a time to meet up and went our separate ways. While the Kosel was half full, Brochah was pleased that it wasn’t filled with tourists. I went in search of a chair. Over my recent visits to the Kosel, I had noticed that there were stacks of plastic chairs widely available all over the large plaza. I didn’t see one available chair. Then I saw a small stack to my right. I saw a young girl trying to pull off the top chair with no luck. She walked away and I was confident she just didn’t have the strength and conviction to get herself a chair. I heaved and pulled repeatedly. Until I noticed there was a white plastic tie wrapped around the chairs to keep them together. Feeling rather embarrassed, I saw that the larger stack of chairs in the corner were no longer surrounded by women deep in prayer. A lady in front of me pulled down a chair from the tall stack. It was dirty from the recent rains. She pulled down another. It was also dirty. We concluded that they must all be covered in dried up dirty rain water. Note to self, next time I come to the Kosel I should bring a spray bottle and a shmatte.
I moved over to the middle of the plaza and resigned myself to my chairless state. I said the few perakim of Tehillim that I hadn’t manage to finish on Shabbos itself before starting to daven Maariv. Suddenly I saw a woman arise from her chair just over to the side of me. I was about to sit when a woman approximately my age ran ahead and grabbed the chair and the one beside it for her teenage daughter. I made a small face but then let go.
“Hashem,” I thought out loud, “I am okay with standing. Baruch Hashem, I have two strong legs, but I really don’t want to say Shema of Maariv standing. It isn’t ideal. So could you please provide me with a chair when I get to Shema?
With that, I finished up my last perek of Tehillim and turned to Maariv in my siddur. Just as I started to say the bracha of Shema, the woman right in front of me got up and walked away. I took the chair and quietly sat down. This chair was saved just for me. And I was saved by the chair.