by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
This morning at the Kotel, a young man was screaming his Psalms so loudly that I was really bothered by it. It was very early in the morning, and there were only 3 of us there. I love being at the Kotel at that time. You can look up quietly and feel so much. But, even though he was as far away from me as you can get and still be at the Kotel, he was screaming so loudly that his feelings kept me from feeling that special feeling that I love to feel.
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It used to be, some 25 years ago, that once or twice a week I would be the only person at the Kotel at that early hour. Now that so many Jews are coming to Israel, it is quite rare to be so alone. So, I treasure the opportunity now even more than I did before.
But you know that you really can't go tell another Jew to be quiet, and not to pray the way he wants, but I gave it a shot anyway.
I walked over and asked, "Who are you yelling at?" I had to yell for him to hear me over his screaming.
"Why are you screaming so loudly? Do you think that He doesn't hear you?"
The young man jumped toward me as he spoke, "What? This is so important," he said as he banged on the book of Psalms that he held in his hand. "I have to scream out to let Him know just how much we need His help!"
"But you do know that He is right here, don't you? I mean if you are speaking to someone who is standing right in front of you, you don't have to shout, do you?"
"You don't understand!" He said in a very loud and urgent voice.
"You're doing it again," I told him, as I backed away from his aggressive manner.
I spoke softly, "You should talk to G-d the way you speak to your father, or to your wife. Do you scream at them?"
He became quiet and seemed to stop and think.
"How would you like your children to talk to you? Screaming? Or sweetly?" I asked.
"Sweetly," he answered and bowed his head.
I spoke softly, trying to bring him to a gentler way to pray. "You can get much more from listening than you can from yelling."[i] I stood with my hand cupped behind my ear and looked up toward the top of the Kotel, as if I was straining to hear something very quiet.
He became still.
I smiled and walked back to the place where I sit. I really did not expect him to change. After all, he is a "son of the King!"[ii] And beside that, people around here are pretty impressed with the fact that, "the entire creation was created for my benefit."[iii] But, I felt that it would be wrong to sit there and feel upset with the guy, without at least asking him to cooperate.
I was amazed. He went on with his prayers, but sweetly, instead of screaming! I walked by him later, and he smiled at me warmly. Surely, the Moshiach is really close now!
[i] Gemora Megila 18a "If a word is worth one coin, silence is worth two."
[ii] Gemora Shabbos 128a
[iii] Gemora Sanhedrin 37a
BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא