Davening in Yerushalayim is an amazing eclectic experience. In just five days I’ve experienced the Zichron Moshe and Malchei Tzedek minyan factories of Geula, Vasikin at the Kotel, Kabbalos Shabbos at the Mir, Mincha in Meron, and Shabbos Morning at the Holiest Place on Earth.
My friend who has been living and learning in the Old City for the past 40 years davens Shabbos morning at an Old City Yeshivish Ashkenaz minyan deep in the tunnel at the Kotel. The location makes it the closest minyan to the Kodesh Kodashim. My friend has a makom kavuah at the wall, where my son and I joined him for Shabbos.
The start time (this week at 8:30 pm) is 40 minutes before the Gaon’s zman for Krias Shema with a slow Shema and Shemoneh Esrai and no additional lag time, for a total of one hour and 45 minutes from Mizmor Shiur to Shiur Shel Yom. Although the time was straight and orderly, the seats are amazingly scattered, as can be expected at the Kotel. Because my friend is an upstanding minyan regular, I was honored with an Aliyah, and the trek to and back to the bimah was quite an obstacle course – but obviously well worth it.
Even with an inspirational location at the Holiest Place on Earth, comfortable speeds, and an amazing seat, davening is a Service of the Heart, which means what really matters is what’s going on inside the head. So when it comes down to it, it’s not only where you are, but where your head is at.
Greetings of Peace from Yerushalayim!