Tuesday, 2 May 2017

The Man in Purple - Praying at the Kotel - Why I Took This Photo

I'm constantly fascinated by the different types of people who come to pray at the Kotel - the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Here was someone who surely stood out from the crowd. It seems like most of us might think the "royal purple" garments worn by this man would not be the norm for the type of garments we would wear on a daily basis. However, here he is - standing at the holiest site in the world pouring his heart out to his Creator. It makes no difference if he is Jewish or not - here is a man in need of having his prayers answered. He too contains within himself a spark of Godliness in need of redemption.

You may have seen my previous post about a man who had come to pray at the Kotel, and wondered why I would post another such similar image. In truth, however, the images are completely different. The garments worn by the two men are certainly different - but more importantly, their prayers are different. Most of us would not consider this. We are too distracted by the physical... We would see two people standing at the same place and assume things to be the same. We would make judgments about their garments... but this is not what prayer is all about, this is not what a soul is all about. In fact, this is not what life is all about.

When God created His world, He filled it with an infinite array of creatures - many of which we have never seen in our lives before, and many which we never will. To the scuba-diver who finds himself deep below in the hidden waters concealed from the average person, life is quite different. There, he/she finds himself/herself amongst creatures which most will never come to see. With modern technology, the average person has been privy to worlds unseen... To the astronaut thousands of kilometres above the Earth's surface - he too sees worlds that most will never see. With modern technology, the average person has again been privy to seeing sights he would never see in his ordinary life.

Just as these people are privy to worlds unseen by the average person - so too are there other worlds which none of us might even be aware... but they are there.

Hidden, in the deepest resources of these worlds, is what goes on in the mind of a person. Here, one will find the deepest of thoughts that each of us has - which others will never see. Here, one will see the fear and the love one has for God too. While on the outside, we may all look the same - save for perhaps the different external garments we wear, on the inside, our worlds differ from each other as do the colours black and white. 

Indeed the Baal Shem Tov asks - Why is Kabbalah called the hidden wisdom? Those who wish to learn the mystical aspects of Torah are welcome to go into any well-shelved Jewish book store and purchase books on every subject of mysticism from the theory to the practical... Anyone with a good knowledge of Hebrew can read these books in the original and learn the apparent "hidden wisdom". The Baal Shem Tov answers that Kabbalah is based on two foundations which are hidden - the love of God and the fear of God. These emotions are hidden within every person and differ from one to the next. Whereas everyone may observe the Shabbat day, eat Kosher, wear Tefillin (for men) etc. everyone will do so with their own feelings... and it is this that is hidden. The mystic will achieve his closeness to the Creator not because of the books he reads, but because of his emotions as he cleaves to his Creator in ecstasy and trembling. To the outside observer however, none will know... because in Kabbalah, everything is hidden... The reader (only) of such books will never grasp the essence of the study, because without the "hidden," it really is all hidden. Much like the fool who picks a beautiful flower from the garden thinking that he does so because of how much love he has towards it - yet immediately brings it to a state of death(!) - so too the student of kabbalah and the "practitioner" who attempts to study it after having uprooted it from its Source, and his lacking all fear and love of the entire Torah.

Here - a man stands praying. He wears particular - unique external garments, and those watching may well make their own judgments. However, when it comes to God, it is not the outside which attracts His attention, it is the inner world of each of us. He has created it, but it is we who bring it out from potential into reality. 

Our obligation is to look beyond the facade - beyond the veneer of the other (and even of ourselves!) Our obligation is to see the beauty of the external - even if it appears so different to our own, and thereafter to penetrate to the inner and to realise just how different it is from the other.

Our two men praying may look similar - as far as ordinary appearances may go. After all, they both stand at the same place. They may seem to be praying and talking to their Creator. Inside, however, they are completely different. They are celebrating being themselves in their very own way. Their external garments are merely a sign of something they feel close to in terms of physical garments. They have chosen those garments because it makes them feel the way they'd like to - physically. The garments express something about their inner selves, much like a doctor wears particular garments, a soldier wears others and a policeman wears yet another type of uniform - each expressing who they are at that point in time. Their inner garments - of thought, speech and action - are however most different.

When we stand watching over others, no matter how different they may seem, we must be aware that there is something they all share. They all come from the Highest of Roots of Creation, their souls having traveled into their bodies to express themselves differently, to offer something unique to the world. They may show their uniqueness through their external garments, but for us, we must look deeper than the external. We must realise that they too have their own desires, wishes and mostly needs in life. We must value them for that. We must realise, they too pray for the things they need. 

We respect them for who they are, because no matter how different the external seems from what we might be used to, hidden inside all of that, rests a soul with its own struggles, its own pain and its own connection with its Creator. Its own love and its own fear.

Purple? Even Mordechai the Jew wore purple (Esther 8:15) at the end of the story of Purim. The Wall is the same for everyone. The Creator is the same Creator for all. Now, it is up to realise, that no matter how much the scene may look the same - everything is different. Everything is unique.

You can purchase this picture here, print it and consider the thoughts included here - or add your own - as you consider the beauty of life.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails