I hurriedly walked up the stairs from the Kotel, after a heartfelt Kabbalat Shabbat near the Wall. My eyes were on the clock, as I knew I’d miss Kiddush if I didnt get back to Yeshiva before a quarter to six. I greeted the blue-uniformed police officer at the security checkpoint with a cheery “Shabbat Shalom” and continued up the stairs, with him calling the same words after me.
I made the turn by the entrance to the Arab market, heading safely in the direction of the Jewish quarter, but not before wishing the two officers in blue a “Shabbat Shalom” as well. They nodded and smiled, most probably trying to remember the last time a black-garbed person like me greeted them with a smile.
I was heading down the narrow, stone road leading to my dorm room, the two young men in blue beating me to a “Shabbat Shalom” first. “They’re everywhere”, I thought to myself as I headed up the few stairs to the door.
I smiled as I punched in the code to the door. Shabbat was finally resting Her Presence on the Old City. I entered the door and wished the few guys standing there a “Shabbat Shalom”, before speeding down the metal stairs to the dining room. Not of course, before wishing my friend coming up them, a “Shabbat Shalom” as well.
The sound of “Shalom Aleichem” reverberating off the small rooms walls, met my ears, happily noticing that I didnt miss Kiddush. I joined in too – wishing the Shabbat Angels a “Shabbat Shalom” as well.
One of the fathers who came to join us for the meal, made Kiddush, and we all answered “Amen”, before walking to the sinks and washing our hands. I took a seat besides Josh, my roommate, and our guest Yosef, from Baltimore, as we ate the pieces of Challah being passed around.
“Chumus?”, I asked one of the guys, as he smeared some on his Challah. And he smiled and said, “Ken, ma ze Shabbat, bli chumus?”, “Yes, what is Shabbat without chumus?”. I laughed and took it from him, doing the same in agreement. Yes, Shabbat has indeed come to the Old City.
The meal continued merrily, as we ate, drank, and sang songs to our Creator, wishing Him a “Shabbat Shalom” as well. After I finished saying a short idea on the weeks Torah portion, we all washed again and blessed the final blessing over the meal, each getting up and going off on our own Friday night journey. Not before wishing everyone a “Shabbat Shalom” though, of course.
Josh, Yosef, and I, all threw on our coats, as we headed out for a walk, the chilly Old City air embracing us, with a “Shabbat Shalom” of its own. We walked down the tiny narrow streets of Jerusalem, greeting and answering everyone who walked by – with a “Shabbat Shalom”. That of course included, the two men with guns, leaning against the wall – in blue.
We walked to a small private spot, where only people who are familiar with the Old City alleyways can reach. All three of us let out a gasp of awe, as we leaned against the railing – overlooking the Western Wall. We stood in absolute silence as we took in the sight of G-d’s resting place, just beneath the Temple Mount, where our Holy Temple stood thousands of years before. Our minds wandered, each into the deep thoughts of our personal lives, a silent prayer in our hearts, that we would merit to see His Presence rest their once again.
My thoughts were interrupted, when coming up to the railing right besides us, were none other than two young men with guns and helmets…and of course, clothed in blue. We all laughed as our eyes met, and “Shabbat Shalom”s rang out simultaneously between of our little groups.
Yet, unlike the other officers I had passed all evening, these two asked us, “Ma shlomchem?” – “How are you?”. Slightly taken a back, I leaned against the railing, as Josh pitched in, in his inimitable Hebrew, and said “baruch Hashem” – “thank G-d”.
Slowly, we started conversing, the helmets off, hands shaken, and names exchanged. They offered us to sit down on the benches, but apologized they couldn’t as we spoke, as they were on duty.
The conversation lasted a little over an hour, and covered more topics than any article can do justice to. We discussed Mashiach, childbirth, religious vs non-religious dating, marriage, harmony in the house, the Holocaust, Divine Providence, and more. Oh, before I forget – the one to my right kept insisting they were both absolutely not religious. Never mind his rattling off of Torah verses and Talmudic teachings, or his donning Tefillin each morning.
They apologized for their lack of attention, as they constantly had to dart their eyes, and look behind them, carefully observing the activity at the Kotel. “We have to watch out for you, and them”, they said together.
We laughed, we argued, we raised voices, and we patted eachothers backs. Of course, not forgetting to wish those confused passerbyers a “Shabbat Shalom” as they tried to make sense of the scene in front of their eyes. “Were brothers, my friend”, the one to the left told us, “just you’re in black, and were in blue”.
As the night grew darker, and more intimate topics were reached, the one to my right, who I learned was 26, single, and a university student got a call on his walkie talkie, to report back to base. Sadly, we both shook hands again, blessed each other with safety and success, and parted our ways. One gripped my shoulder, and said “hey, my friend, please don’t be upset that we were looking around as you spoke. We loved it. We just had to look out for everyone. We protect you, because G-d protects us.”
I nodded and told him it was absolutely understandable. “You speak like a rabbi”, I said in Hebrew, “are you sure there’s no kippa under that cap?” He laughed, and we both walked away.
We barely made it a few steps away, when he turned around and said loudly “Hey! Achi (my brother)! Shabbat shalom! Watch over yourselves!”. We all broke out in a happy smile, and shouted “Shabbat Shalom” back.
Shabbat Shalom our Angels in blue. We pray that G-d shall protect you, so you can watch over us. Oh, and of course – so that we can wish you “Shabbat Shalom” when she blesses us with her presence next week.