Kotel Compass

It's widely known that the Kotel, the Western Wall, in Israel is a place of deep religious and spiritual significance. People from all over the world, of all religions or non religions, flock to the Kotel to communicate with God. I have a lot of friends who feel they can only access their spirituality at this wall. This is a problem, particularly if one doesn't live anywhere near Jerusalem. All humans have spirits all the time. If those spirits are dormant or neglected unless we tell ourselves we are "at one specific place", then we aren't properly functioning the majority of the time. If we attach feeling connected and alive to an object, a place, a holiday , a date on a calendar, or even another person, then we are setting ourselves up for spiritual failure. Any of these outside sources can and will go away at some point, leaving us bereft and sad. The holiday will end, we will leave Israel, the person might move or die, and the object could be lost or destroyed at any time. Blaming or crediting an inanimate object with the whole of your spirituality is an unnecessary mistake.  We have these things inside us already, and only we can attach to them. There is no question this is internal work and not external. It's definitely a form of avoidance in seeking "things" to fill us with godliness, even if said things are holy. It doesn't matter; to put all our eggs in another basket, when we are the chickens, is a bizarre handing off of the greatest part of being alive. This really begs the question; to what degree to we place importance on objects in general? Even highly observant Jews are divided on the intrinsic spiritual powers of the Kotel. Some believe the stones themselves hold magical properties, and are a direct line to Hashem, while others see it as just a wall. Symbolic, yes, but it's a "pile of stones", as one friend put it. It's important to note that this person did indeed make Aliyah/move to Israel, and is completely orthodox. He intended no disrespect. He, like myself, thinks it is just a historic wall. I don't feel as drawn to the Kotel as I used to. I don't feel compelled to run there when I visit Israel. I am bursting with spirituality everywhere in Israel, even on a beach in tel Aviv. Especially on a beach in Tel Aviv! Watching the sunset, surrounded by people outdoors who are full of life, enjoying their families, this truly activates my soul. I feel grateful for life, grateful for the state of Israel, grateful for the warmth of the sun, and for the energy all around me. The point is that we are denying ourselves if we don't learn to live in a spiritual state in any situation. This discussion arose around the Friday night table. A different close friend described the intense connection he feels to Hashem only at the Kotel. I said, but you're only there maximum once a year so where does that leave you the other 364 days? Wouldn't it be so wonderful for you, I continued, if you could feel that way here in New Jersey? How much richer would life be then? Our lives would be happier, fuller, and more peaceful if we made it a mission to do whatever it takes to infuse the mundane with meaning. If we don't, the only ones that suffer is us. With all the practical responsibilities of life, it is so daunting to have to worry about the intangible. Where do we begin? We think we have control over the physical, the tangible, so this is what we seek for comfort. It never works though. If anything, there might be fleeting instant gratification, and that always fades. We are tired, burnt out, and don't want to have to feel responsible for one more thing. We can prove we own a car, bought the house, built the pool, put on the yalkmuka, but we can't prove we are spiritual. So this responsibility, the obligation we have to serving our souls, gets shelved. No one knows if we lack in that area. But we know, and that causes a nagging feeling of unrest. That's the spirit crying out for nourishment. Constant nourishment. A soul can indeed starve to death. We cannot rely on any kind of structure to fix that, it's an unrealistic expectation. If you are amongst those who do feel a jolt of spirituality from the Kotel, I ask you, for nobody's sake but your own, to ask yourself how you can perpetuate that beautiful feeling. If you really ask, you'll start to find answers. This is one of the most important questions you can ever ask. Questions are often a gift. They lead to self study, and the more layers we unpeel, THAT is the key to a spiritual life. Wherever you are.