Monday, July 13, 2020

Rebuilding A Personal Jerusalem

 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.
The Birah fortress (right) sat at the northwestern corner of the Temple Mount.

Large mansions and houses of the Upper City.

Jerusalem from the east. A long walkway (bottom), supported by a double layer of arches, connected the Temple Mount to the Mount of Olives (not shown). This walkway was used by Temple personnel to bring the Red Cow to the Mount of Olives.

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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