Thursday, July 03, 2008

Early Morning, Jerusalem

I woke up about an hour ago (5:30 a.m. my time) because the light woke me up. I got up and opened the door - and felt the nice cool, damp air of early morning. The birds were singing, and it was still cloudy. I looked up at the misty air breezing past. What I didn't hear (or see) were the sounds of other human beings. Across the street there was a woodpecker pecking away in a tall palm tree. Then a man walked by, holding his tallit bag (bag with his prayer shawl in it). He went into the synagogue next door. According to halakhah (Jewish law) the earliest time to say the Sh'ma ("Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one") is before sunrise, when it is possible to distinguish a white from a blue thread.

The pomegranate tree in the garden.

I went back inside to my little apartment and lay down again, trying to fall asleep. I began to hear more sounds of the city awakening, and finally decided to get up, despite wanting to get more sleep. I opened the door again to the garden (I have a one-room studio apartment that is attached to a much larger apartment with a nice garden) and saw a couple of other men walking by carrying their tallitot. Just sitting here now I remembered that it was Thursday morning, and the Torah is read in synagogue on Monday and Thursday mornings - this was the reason for the earlier service (I imagine it was earlier, but since I try to be asleep at this hour of the morning, I'm not sure). When I opened the door this time I could hear the sounds of the men praying next door.

(update, 6:42 a.m.) I can now hear the Torah reading from next door.

Just a normal, quiet, Jerusalem morning.

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