The regulars at the Kosel know him well: Rav Mordechai Shapira. A talmidchacham of distinguished appearance, over 70 years old, he comes every day, carrying the long, long list of Vaad Harabbanim’s donors, and prays fervently for them, for several hours.
He is there each day, in burning heat and freezing cold, Yom Tov and weekdays, and you can see tears in his eyes when he davens for the donors.
This year, during the preparations for the 40-day tefilah marathon from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Yom Kippur, we stopped in to ask RavShapira a few questions – when he was off duty, of course.
“After Cheit Ha-eigel,that is exactly what Moshe Rabbeinu did. He stood before the Kisei Ha-kavod in non-stop tefilah for 40 days, from the 1st of Elul through the 10th of Tishri. 40 days, in all.
“The results were impressive: he received the second set of Tablets, was commanded to build the Mishkan, and through this was instituted the yearly atonement of Yom Kippur for the Jewish people in all generations.”
Besides you, who else davens for the donors?
“They are all true talmidei chachamim who devote their lives to Torah study and are noted for their yiras Shamayim and ahavas Yisrael.
“The shifts switch off, one after another, so that the tefilah is 24/7 without break. That means also on Shabbos and Yom Tov. For the more difficult time slots, we have people who live in the Jewish Quarter, a few minutes from the Kosel.
“Once a day there is a full minyan, for the main tefilah. And besides that, whoever is on duty recites all of Sefer Tehillim without break. Every two hours or so, Sefer Tehillim is begun again. That means 12 Sifrei Tehillim a day.
“Every evening, we pray for all the donors, mentioning their individual name and the name of their mother. This takes about an hour to go through the whole list.
“Besides that, the donors all receive the personal berachah of the Gedolei Hador shlita.”
Maybe you have a story for us about something that at the Kosel?
“Well, I remember a certain gentleman whose name was on the list for non-stop prayers, and he came to the Kosel himself to thank Hashem for a great personal yeshu’ah. After months of looking for work, he was hired for the job of his dreams.
“Then someone else came up, who was watching the whole thing from the side. He said, ‘I want to join, too.’ He called Vaad Harabbanim from his cell phone right there on the spot, donated, and was put on the list.”
Is there anything else you can tell us?
“There surely is. Please come back when I have more time. I need to get to backthe Kosel soon. Butjust to mention quickly, please tell the donors that the 40 days from Elul through Yom Kippur are critical, and there have been a lot of yeshu’os from these tefilos. It’s a shame for anyone to miss out on it.”