Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tisha B'Av 5770: Yet More Water at the Kotel

Five years ago, Rabbi Lazer Brody, wrote about water seeping out of the kotel. (I recall clearly the Jerusalem Post reporting water gushing - not seeping - out of the kotel, with photos, a few years prior to that.)

Back then Rabbi Brody explained:
By our own tradition, the moisture at the Western Wall of the Holy Temple indicates the impending redemption of the people and land of Israel, the rebuilding of the Temple and the coming of Moshiach ben David, speedily and in our time, amen.

In fact the Gemara (Yoma 77b-78a) remarks:
R' Pinchas said in the name of Rav Huna of Tzippori: The spring that issues from the Holy of Holies initially resembles the antennae of locust. Once it reaches the entrace of the Sanctuary it swells and becomes as wide as the thread of the warp. Once it reaches the entrance of the Antechamber, it becomes as wide as the thread of the woof. Once it reaches the entrance of the Courtyard it becomes as wide as the mouth of a small flask. And this is the meaning of what we learned in the Mishna (Middos 2:6) R' Eliezer Ben Yaakov says: By this gate a stream of water, as wide as that which issues from a flask, will emerge from under the threshold of the temple. From here onward [the stream] will rise unabatedly until it reaches the entrance of the house of David (i.e. Har Tzion, Mount Zion in Jerusalem - Rashi). Once it reaches the house of David it becomes a swiftly flowing stream, in which zavin, zavos, niddos, and childbearing women will immerse and cleanse themselves from their tumah. As it is stated: On that day there will be a spring opened up for the house of David and for all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for cleaning and for purification. (Zechariah 13:1)

Although there are allegorical explanations many commentators (see Metzudas Dovid on Yechezkiel 47:1 and others) maintain the water referred to is very real water and will be present at the time of Moshiach. Which is why it's always a big deal when water starts seeping from the Kotel.

I blogged about this phenomenon three years ago on Hoshana Rabba. Well last Shabbos I went to the Kotel. I enjoy davening at the official kotel minyan (with the Chief Rabbi of the Kotel) located inside the Wilson's Arch section. Being a little later than usual I had trouble finding a spot, then noticed there was a spot all the way in the very back corner. (Basically as far back and as deep in as you can walk.) A moment later I understood why that spot was vacant. Water was dripping and there was a large puddle on the floor. It was a fairly strong drip that I would describe as how condensation drips from an air-conditioner. In fact that was my first reaction - to assume it was from the air-conditioner. But although Wilson's arch is air-conditioned, the units aren't near where the water was dripping from.

I was at the Kotel last night on Tisha B'Av and went back to check on the dripping water. It wasn't dripping as hard as it was on Shabbos but a large patch was still very clearly damp and I was able to snap this photo:

Where is this water coming from?