Sunday, September 21, 2014

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Back Away

Back Away

 by Reb Gutman Locks


     There is a custom when leaving the Kotel not to turn our backs directly to the Kotel. Some just turn around and face the Kotel by the entrance when they leave, while others are strict to walk backwards all the way away from the Kotel, and even past the entrance. Why?

     First, it is interesting how this custom became popular. Some 25 years ago very few men paid attention to it. Then, for some reason, it caught on, and now most religious men turn back and face the Kotel before leaving.

     I like to think that this extra sensitivity to the Holiness there is another sign that the Redemption is unfolding, but Hashem is keeping it hidden. Once it becomes obvious that it is actually happening as prophesied thousands of years ago, everyone is going to rush home. But the reward for those who come home while the Redemption is hidden will be greater than the reward for those who come home after the Redemption has become obvious to all.

     This goes along with the important teaching that Hashem rewards us according to our effort, and coming home after the world wakes up is going to be almost automatic. So Hashem is hiding the fact that the Redemption has actually started to let us earn a greater reward.

     Back to the reason for the custom: The Temple Mount is the holiest place in the world. It is called the place where Hashem reveals Himself. It is said of the Kotel that His revealed Presence has never left. So when we are praying at the Kotel we are standing before the King. When the conversation with a King is over, no subject would ever be so rude as to turn his back to the King, but rather would slowly back away keeping his eyes turned toward the King just in case the King might say something more. Thus, those who are sensitive to the holiness that permeates the Kotel show their great respect for the King and their reluctance to be leaving His Presence.

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