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Soul Identity - Dennis Batchelder's debut novel
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the city of (im)patience
By Dennis Batchelder 4 June 2000

hi guys:

on friday, orit took me on a tour around jerusalem. orit works for ca as well, and was kind enough to offer to show me around over the weekend, before we start work tomorrow.

jerusalem is a holy city for three different religions: judaism, christianity, and islam. each religion had important things happen here, and different ruling groups occupied it at various times in its history.

these days, jerusalem is managed by the jews. it was "liberated" the last time on june 2, 1967 (yesterday was the anniversary). so there were some roads closed, and we had to go the long way around some areas, because of the ceremonies and celebrations.

over the years, the city has been occupied by many peoples - i don't think i have them all correct, but there were the jews (david), babylonians (nebuchadnezzar), jews (nehemiah), romans, nobody (AD 70), christians (queen helen), muslims (byzantine), christians (crusades), muslims (ottoman), christians (hapsburgs/british), muslims, jews. and over the years, different groups have built different monuments, and a lot of times these tend to trample other people's religions. you have a mosque on the site of solomon's temple, a church in the garden of gethsemane, jewish graves on the mount of olives.

also: you get a lot of "timesharing": you'll have on the EXACT same spot david's palace, the last supper, and the place mary died. and on the EXACT same spot is where where abraham almost sacrified isaac (or ishmael, depending on your religion), solomon's temple, herod's palace, and where mohammed ascended to heaven. you can see the confusion this could cause, especially for religious fanatics.

here's the one i find the most interesting: the mercy gate. religious jews believe that when the messiah finally does come, he will descend from the mount of olives, go through the garden of gethsemane, climb the hill to the old city, and enter jerusalem through the mercy gate (the one just opposite the mount of olives, and located at the base of where the mount moriah/temple/palace/ascension point used to be - now the dome of the rock mosque). this is why lots and lots of jews bury their dead on the mount of olives - they will be the first to rise to see the messiah. in fact, it's very expensive to be buried there (maybe $10,000). but they'll be at the front of the line, so i guess it's worth it to them.

here's the problem: the current wall around the old city was built 400 years ago during the ottoman empire. he did rebuild the mercy gate, but he left it closed. it's all bricked up. so the messiah will have a hard time entering it. also, there are lots of muslim graves on the hill right
outside the gate, so there's no clean place for the messiah to walk - walking through a muslim graveyard is unclean.

this is one of the many, many problems that the religious jews must solve before they'll be happy. i can see their frustration. it's hard to timeshare space with other religions - nobody wants to compromise, and everybody tends to get impatient.

so what is the answer? orit says that the very first word you need to learn in hebrew when you get to israel is "sav-la-noot". this means "patience". and it's the answer for everything:

QUESTION: "when will you be ready to go?"
ANSWER: "sav-la-noot"

QUESTION: "when do we eat?"
ANSWER: "sav-la-noot"

QUESTION: "when will i get my raise?"
ANSWER: "sav-la-noot"

QUESTION: "what does your doctor need lots of?"
ANSWER: "sav-la-noot". (these english jokes don't translate well into

QUESTION: "when will this story end?"
ANSWER: "sav-la-noot"



the city of (im)patience - israel