Between the Narrows
There is a hilltop in Jerusalem
Where heaven and earth touch
After the destruction the bride began to weep
The ground too
The bride returned as a bird perched at the wall
For three weeks in summer
I sat low in sadness
I planned to bleed
To wash myself clean
This I have been taught
After a river of tears
Expect the messiah
And he was afraid, and said: how dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of G*d (Gen. 28:17). From here you learn that anyone who prays in this place, in Jerusalem, it is as though praying before the Throne of Glory. For the gateway to heaven is there and the door is open to hear prayer, as it is said, “And this is the gate of heaven.”
• Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer, chapter 35, English Friedlander pp, 265-66.
And so David said, Jerusalem is built like a city joined together (Ps. 122:3), that is, as a city G*d built, and the Targum Yonatan translates: Jerusalem was built as a city in the heavens to be joined with the one on earth. And G*d swore that the Shekhinah would not enter the city on high until one below has been rebuilt.
• Tanhuma Exodus, Pikudei section 1
The main custom is to sit on the floor (until Midnight on Tisha B’Av). One may sit on a cushion or on a low stool.
• Shulchan Aruch w/Mishnah Brurah 559:3, MB 11
My [Elijah] son [R Yosi], what sound did you hear in this ruin? I replied: I heard a divine voice, cooing like a dove.
• BT. Berakhot 3a
There were two types of birds at the wall. The doves nesting quietly in the Wall, and the swifts screeching and careening madly for the minute or so it took to speak the mourner’s prayer.
I told the story to Miri, long time resident of Jerusalem.
She said to me, the swifts were not always here. I know an Arab man in the Old City who told me that before the Jews came back in ’67, there were no swifts here. The swifts returned to the Wall with the Jews.
• Aggadat Miri
Behold the gates of mercy an arbitrary space
And none of us deserving the cruelty or the grace
• Eliezer HaKohen
Though the gates of prayer are closed the gates of weeping are not.
• BT. Berakhot 32b
On the day the Beit HaMikdash was destroyed, Messiah was born.
• Eicha Rabbah 1:51