Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Yesterday I saw with my own eyes the consequences of Tisha B’Av, during a fascinating tour with Herzl Ben-Ari from the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City. Our first stop: a giant pile of rocks. These are the remnants of mammoth stones that were shattered during the destruction of the Holy Temple, having remained in the very same spot until today as a silent testimony to that event, at the south end of the Kotel (Western Wall). It’s as if time froze and so it’s possible to see the destruction as it actually happened. We also see evidence of the conflagration that consumed Jerusalem after the destruction of the Temple and tangible proof of what transpired in the ashes and in two thousand-year-old burned and blackened wooden beams. We also see hope that after the destruction rejuvenation will come. On one of the ancient stones at the south end of the Kotel, someone had engraved in Hebrew letters words from the prophet Isaiah: “You will see and your heart will rejoice, and your bones will flourish like grass.” The one who wrote this was not privileged, as we are, to see bones flourishing once again in the Holy Land.
These relics waited for us for generations, covered up by layers of earth. Only after we returned to Jerusalem did the State of Israel embark on a spectacular archaeological project that has revealed, little by little, evidence of what used to be. Just this week a large treasure-trove of ancient seals was discovered from the First Temple period, a preservation of our past amidst the destruction. At the end of the tour, the guide turned to us and asked: If the rocks and ashes could talk, what would they say?