Feb 27, 2007

shwarma and Har Habayit

Today is Har Habayit day.

Actually Sunday (7 Adar) was "officially" Har Habayit day for the Bet Shemesh group. Unfortunately, a few of us could not go up on Sunday, so we split the group this month. A few guys went on Sunday and a few went today.

Today there were four of us scheduled to go. One guy cancelled at the last minute, due to a scheduling conflict, so then we were three. We went to Har Habayit, I drove. When the time came, the police gave us the instructions (no prayer, etc,) and let us up.

It was very quiet. The head of the police unit that gaurds Temple Mount escorted us today (there is always a police escort for the Jewish groups that go up). This policeman is a very nice guy and knows us already because we are regulars. He told us they have more or less gotten the situation under control and it has really quieted down, though, he said, they had some really rough days recently because of the excavations. Basically, Har Habayit was practically empty. The weather was chilly with overcast skies and a slight drizzle that was starting and stopping all morning. This type of weather usually keeps people inside, so it is not surprising that it was quiet.

It was a bit surprising that no other Jewish groups were there. I had assumed we would meet up with whatever group was scheduled for today. Either today's group was planning on going later, or maybe nobody else could make it.

Anyway, the three of us enter Har Habayit. Because the guy who was going to lead us had cancelled, I decided to say a few words. All three of us had been there before, many times, so we did not need a tour. Usually, the person leading the group will try to say some words about the time period and the relevance to the mikdash. So, being that I volunteered to speak, I told over a bit of the relevance of Purim to the mikdash with the history (as much of it as I could remember) of the time period.

The events of Purim transpired near the end of the 70 years of Galus Bavel and that is what I spoke about. A few minutes into the walk, one of the guys had to back out. He had not brought any non-leather shoes, assuming the weather would be decent. With the chill in the air and the wet stone floor, the ground was like ice on his now wet socked feet. He felt like he was going to lose a few toes, so he gave up. Then we were two.

After speaking for a few more minutes, we continued in silence. Sometimes the speaker leading us is so brilliant and interesting that it is difficult to daven (silently) because I am trying to listen to the interesting "shiur" being given. Since I was neither interesting nor brilliant, we basically had time and the ability to each concentrate on the things we wanted to daven for. There was a benefit to the group being small, it turns out.

We walked around. As we passed the makom hamizbeah - the spot where the mizbeah was located (not next to us, but at the point where it was visible along our path), the second guy shared with me how whenever he passes this spot he tries to imagine the smell of the korbanot being sacrificed. Shortly after that we did smell the odor of roasting meat wafting through the air. It was not because of our imagination, but was coming from the one of the nearby entrances to the Arab shuk.

We finished our walk and went down leaving through the old city. We passed more of the excavations. I took a couple of photos of the "controversial" excavations and will later post a few if any came out decent.

When learning the mesechet of Pesachim recently, it seemed to me that the way they ate the korbanot was very similar to a very common Middle-Eastern food called Shwarma. There is the cut up meat inside a laffa bread (Iraqi bread) with some spices and salads. For lunch today, in honor of Har Habayit, I decided to go get a shwarma. I must say, it was one of my more interesting excuses for eating a shwarma!


  1. Where did you get a shwarma? I always went to Massive when I was in seminary. I love shwarma and I am able to get it at one of the local restaurants. The laffa is so awesom!

  2. The "Koreich" of Hillel was basically a shwarma, they had soft matzos in which he put the lamb and some charif (maror).

  3. No pictures! At my visit I put up pics from my visit. Let the world see us.

  4. ymedad - I have put pix up on many other occassions. On t hat visit I did not take any new pictures. Next week I should be going up again,,


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