During this time of the year as our hearts and minds turn to Jerusalem and the Temple, I have been working on rebuilding our holy city in my own small way. Brick by brick, over 3,000 in all, I assembled a microscale Lego® model of the Old City of Jerusalem as it would have looked during the heyday of the pre-Herodian Second Temple era.
In 2019 I was suffering from a bad case of back pain. One night when I could not even sleep I hauled myself over to the computer and tried to put 3 am to some good use. I had recently completed a microscale Temple Mount and based on that I began designing and researching the walls of ancient Jerusalem and putting the first tentative bricks into place. Over the next year I outlined the city walls and then roughed in the elevations of the mountain using different colored bricks for the contour lines.
|Early stage of the model with the elevations shown in different colors.|
Using mostly headlamp bricks I populated the empty city blocks with houses, buildings, and courtyards. Now, if I had remained faithful to the scale of my Temple Mount then even a 1x1 brick would have represented a giant 50x50-foot building! So while the structures are larger than life, I think that the model captures the overall look and feel of the city.
|Looking north along the Tyropoeon Valley from the southern gate to the Temple Mount.|
|The Temple Mount as seen from the northeast. Behind it the red roofs of the Upper City houses contrast with the plain roofs of the Lower City.|
|Jerusalem from the west. The Siloam Pool seen at the far right provided water to the Lower City.|
|Looking north. The use of many 1x1 plates and jumper plates allowed the layout of the buildings to follow the contours of the walls and mountain elevations.|
Modern Old City Jerusalem is a crowded and bustling place — so what is it that we pray for three times each day when we ask for a rebuilt Jerusalem? Obviously just filling the space with buildings and people is not enough. It is our national goal and fervent prayer that G-d return the Temple and with it the influx of spirituality that will be as palpable and present and pervasive as water in the middle of the ocean.
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