Sheer Mass Site (Herod Temple Mount Tunnel) (“Means” “Nothing)

156157158159

From eye-level, the Western Wall is pretty small fish. Only deep underground in the tunnels do you see the huge dimensions defining Herod’s 2nd Temple reconstruction project, the long western retaining wall of the immense raised Temple Mount platform built up upon a sheer mass of enormous blocks. “Holiness” rests upon the physical aspect of sheer material place. Down below is the abutting Herodian street, which over time got buried as the city grew and developed, moving on around the site and, literally, up the side of the wall.

One wonders what this thing is doing here, and what does it mean to un-bury the plastic past, to reveal these smooth, old surfaces. I’m not prepared to say that, no, none of this matters. How then to relieve it of its destructive force, the dynamite of a messianic charge? I think the only way to do this is to unhook it from narrative, to conclude that, while it might “matter,” that none of this “means” anything in particular. It’s just there. And then you leave it at that, a historical relic without “significance.” No more and no less than a brute presence. All of this was outside once. Now it’s not.

Without a lot of religious and no national narrative, the tour guide’s remarks were restrained and historically informative. The women praying are doing so at what is believed to be the area closest to where the Holy of Holies once stood. By some accident of history, the space has been reserved as a women’s space. They’re just there. No more and no less than a simple human presence. Without an overt charge, the  women’s presence there is quiet, dignified, and non-demonstrative.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
This entry was posted in uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Sheer Mass Site (Herod Temple Mount Tunnel) (“Means” “Nothing)

  1. Myron Joshua says:

    “They’re just there. No more and no less than a simple human presence. Without an overt charge, the women’s presence there is quiet, dignified, and non-demonstrative.”…thus “meaning” everything!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s