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2 Av 5760 - August 3, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Tisha B'Av: Children Drawing a Picture of the Kosel

by Devora Piha

Any time is a good time for children to draw a picture of the Kosel. Now, especially, in this Three Week mourning season, the Kosel takes on added significance.

Give a child a set of crayons and ask him to draw a picture of the Kosel. He will know exactly what to do. Little Avi drew squares that resembled large stones or stones that are designed from squares, depending on how one sees it. The visual makeup of the Kosel Wall is very simple, geometrically full of squares and built in a manner like building blocks to the eye of a child. He drew them one on top of another high up on the page. He covered the whole page of paper with squares, gave it to his mother and said, "I drew this. It is the Kosel."

His sister, Chani, included a soft blue sky hovering across the top of the wall. Shuli's sky was a dense thick blue strip that looked like it was holding up the wall. A sun beamed from its corner, shining up the surface of the smooth ancient stones. Children are well known for putting the sun in the corner of the page. This notion of a partial sun fits in well with the halocha of not drawing a complete sun, moon or stars. Young children seem to do this automatically.

Another version of the Kosel will be a wide lens view of the plaza showing people praying against the backdrop of massive boulders. Men and women, separated by a mechitza, stand facing the wall in prayer and introspection beseeching Hashem. The men are seen draped in white cloth talleisim with a hint of back and white strips. The women are seen in a colorful array of clothing and head coverings, pouring out their heartfelt prayers. There are flocks of school children with their teachers gathered before the holy wall.

It is hard to say exactly what the color of the ancient stones are. We know that stones are not solid brown. How do you suggest the color of stones to a child? The color seems to defy definition. If we think about it, we notice that the time of the day affects the light on the color of the stones. New notions of color can be perceived along with the changing light and shadows. This is similar in variety to the changes in the sky on the horizon between the hours of sunrise and sunset. The stones are hedged and burnished with pale tones of dusty cream, orange, brown, rose, bone white or chalk white. Nevertheless, to little Avi, brown makes a good definition of a stone. The stones will be colored in loosely or with a heavy pressure very solidly. After a few touches of green bushes sprouting from the spaces between the boulders and a few final lines dragged across the stones, Avi's wall is completed.

[If you've noticed, the Kosel is never without its birds, specifically a white pigeon. Tradition has it that the white pigeon symbolizes the Shechina, which never leaves the site of the Mikdosh, but hovers protectingly over it. The children may wish to color some birds in as well. Others may wish to include small wisps of white to indicate the many notes wedged in between the stones.]

Along with the massive Kosel Wall that children naturally depict, suggest including any of the following scenes as described to us by Yehuda Hemmel, who was a guard at the Kosel for eleven years.

How Do You Show Kedusha in a Drawing?

Guarding the sanctity of the Kosel is a multifacted job. There is security guarding, maintaining the proper respect for the holy site and there is instructing. "On the Shabbos shift, I felt like a maggid shiur speaking to the tourists about the thirty-nine melochos. I explained to people why not to take photos or write notes to put in the Wall and why they could not light a fire." He pointed to a sign that read, "Obey the guards and do what they say."

"People need the Kosel. It is a place to give vent to one's emotions. There is an unpsoken understanding of the sanctity here."


"Early every day, people came on foot, in taxis or in private cars beginning at 4:00 a.m. for mishnayos and Tehillim before the first minyon. They would check their watches for the exact moment of netz, sunrise, and then the first minyonim would begin.

"The Sefardim and Ashkenazim stand crowded together but they stand with reverence and deveikus. There is a mutual understanding that we are all here to pray for our brethren everywhere, for health, peace and our sustenance. It is a very enlightening, uplifting experience. The minyonim got along fine and had mutual respect for each other, especially during the reading of the Torah."


"People are at the Kosel at all hours. There is tikun chatzos from twelve midnight till three in the morning. A nucleus of five or ten people can always be seen. There are also groups of tourists at one or two in the morning."


"There was a ninety-five-year-old man who came by bus for mincha and maariv for ten years. His son continued bringing him later when he was in a wheelchair. Nothing stopped him until his last days when he passed away."


"We had as many as ten or twenty bar mitzvas at sunrise at one time. If the visiting party from abroad didn't hire someone in advance, the people davening were always happy to help."


"There were those who were `professional' givers of tzedoka. A man would come and hand out dollar bills to inspire and reward children and adults for davening at the Kosel. They knew how to give and how to keep order."

There was the mitzva chain reaction. "A traveler would come from far across the ocean and give a dollar to a beggar who sits in his usual place, day in and day out. The beggar gave him a blessing in Hebrew, in return. Whose was the bigger treasure?

However a child portrays the Kosel, it will be a lovely poem in a picture that says what is important to him/her about our Kosel.

[Ed. Notes: Alternate types of drawings: Have the child make a sequential `comic strip' drawing with bubbles for speech. Have him record conversations between people, impressions of a first-time visit. Secular people trying to pray for the first time. Someone praying for a sick relative. Someone giving thanks to Hashem.

Tell your children about people who do Kiruv at the Kosel, like the famous R' Meir Shuster, and others. How would they approach someone?

Create a KOSEL SCRAPBOOK with all kinds of Kosel pictures, at different times of the day, different seasons, like on Succos, Tisha B'Av, Rosh Hashona, Bircas Kohanim, Chanuka. Early Shavuos morning, or Motzaei Shavuos --- when Yeshivas Kol Torah comes to dance and forms a huge circle including all the men, all types of men.]


Two pieces of drawing paper; pencil, eraser.

Oil pastels, colored pencils or markers.



Sketch out an idea of what you want to draw. Consider: people, sky, the plaza, the bushes, light, special effects.

Optional: practice what is difficult to draw, scenes conveying concepts.


Draw the Kosel stones very lightly.

Draw people and the other things you want to show very lightly.

Erase unwanted lines.

Darken light lines by drawing over them once again.

Color in carefully, trying to stay inside the lines. How? Outline each shape or object in its main color first before filling in color. Example: Outline the bushes in green and then fill in green.

TIP -- Use small drawing tools (colored pencils, fine tip markers etc.) in small places.

Use wider tips (oil pastels, crayons etc.) in larger areas.


Use two, three or four colors for each stone or other subject.

STONES: beige, orange, white and brown.

Cream, white and brown.

Pink (or red), orange, white and brown.

SKY: Light blue, dark blue and white.

BUSHES: Leaves -- light green, dark green and yellow.

Branches -- light brown, dark brown, beige and ochre yellow.


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