My father-in-law Rabbi David Rebibo is buried in the Moroccan section of Har HaZeitim. I went there on Sunday at the end of shivah. His kever is near those of the Or Hachaim and the Abuhatzeira family. He had chosen this spot long ago in anticipation of his eventual passing. The walk down to his gravesite descends through history, passing the worn and sometimes illegible grave markers of those long gone as you step past the cracked and shattered headstones demolished by marauders who still surround the Mount of Olives area and who have appropriated some of the stones to use in the walls of their dwellings and at least one major hotel. 

The rows of gravesites are crowded and their layout uneven. On this hot Jerusalem morning, the sun beams down on the hillside and the breeze clears the morning haze over the valley below and the neighboring hill above. Tapering towards the far end of the section, a railing separates the cemetery from the expanse of wild terrain beyond, which ends at the peak of that hill, our Temple Mount. I look over at the ancient walls which separate us from that shiny gold dome that marks the site of the Occupation. That is, the glistening turret asserts itself above the skyline of what is—or was—the site of our sacred Mikdash. Our Temple Mount has long been under occupation. 

Those walls seem just beyond reach and so close that one can imagine how those who rest beneath the warm earth of this somber hill have watched that spot, year after year as the centuries passed. Kingdoms have come and gone. Armies have waged their battles and vanished in defeat. Religions of the region and the world have claimed this land, or have taken it by force or via political maneuvering. Those who rest here have heard the call to prayer droning from the minarets and have listened to the chant of Kohanim offering blessings of peace and love as throngs murmur in prayer. They have heard the blasts of gunfire and the booms of missiles. They have waited as the pious beseech Heaven in prayer and as the faithful chant the words of Tehillim. Dovid Hamelech wept here. Yechezkel and Zechariah had prophetic visions about this mountain. Our tradition is that the messianic era will dawn on this spot. 

And still they wait. And we wait as well. Waiting for peace. Waiting for redemption. Waiting for Jews to unite indivisibly. Waiting for our promised redemption. n 

Rabbi Dr. Dovid Fox is a forensic and clinical psychologist, and director of Chai Lifeline Crisis Services. To contact Chai Lifeline’s 24-hour crisis helpline, call 855-3-CRISIS or email crisis@chailifeline.org. Learn more at www.chailifeline.org/crisis. 

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