Mincha at the Kotel

I’ve been to the Kotel about a dozen times. The first time I went I was mad that there were no English siddurs left. The second time I brought a note. But until the last 2 times, I didn’t know any formal prayers and kind of just said Hello to G-d and asked for whatever it was I really needed at that time. 

I went to the Kotel on Shavuos along with what I heard was 100,000 people. I was half asleep (sunrise) and a few dozen Birthright girls were around me whining that it was cold or crowded or boring. I davened Shachris and yes, it was meaningful.

But it was just more meaningful for me when I went to the Kotel a few days ago, right around 5 PM, perfect timing for Mincha. There weren’t many people there, and I was selfishly happy about this. 

I approached the Kotel and it was picturesque. There was plenty of room for me to get very close and I even got a chair for Ashrei. It wasn’t too hot but the sky was that color blue you only see in Israel. It was amazing.

I said Ashrei with no distractions and started with Shemoneh Esrei. It was completely silent and peaceful like it normally only is in the middle of hte night. Right before Modim about 6 African women ran up to the Kotel right next to me and fell on their knees. Sidenote, this isn’t racist…they were speaking French and wearing African style clothing… 

While on their knees they start screaming things about Yeshke. They were so loud that almost everyone around completely stopped davening. They were convulsing and in hysterics. It would have been disturbing no matter what they were saying because they were loud. We all know that prayer is a personal thing and while kevunah is important you aren’t more pious than the next guy if all you are doing is bothering those next to you. Prayer is INTERNAL. But anyway the Yeshke crap I didn’t want to hear. I am not exaggerating when I say that at least 30 women were staring right at them, maybe trying to figure out what they were doing.

I was the first to shush them. I couldn’t help it. I believe that we should be able to hear our own prayers aloud and I was having to literally shout to do so (while I normally whisper). I didn’t want to start a chain effect and disturb the people next to me. 

But I did! I mean it was a gentle “Shh!” and they were yelling.

I am wondering if it was the right thing or not. For Hashem’s Kavod, I would say yes… (and my sem teachers I asked agree)… because this was obviously idolatry. (I’m talking about the convulsions and the screaming Yeshke Yeshke. On the other hand it might be a Chillul Hashem… but I feel like that doesn’t matter when you are a few hundred meters from the Holy of Holies. Opinions?

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