The Western Wall in Jerusalem.
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The Western Wall or its various names: “The Kotel” or the “Buraq Wall” is known in Islam.
The story of the Western Wall is an ancient historical journey thousands of years old. The Western Wall is an archaeological and a geotherapy journey because first and foremost, the Western Wall is the object of the heart and the request for mercy, prayer, and connection to a place that, according to the tradition, is the “House of God” and in this article, we will discuss what the Western Wall is and why the Western Wall is so important.
The place where millions of visitors visit every year is a place of national and religious importance to the Jewish people; it is a place where it is customary to celebrate a bar mitzvah and where soldiers pledge allegiance to the Israel defense force.
What is the Western Wall?
Have you ever asked yourself more than once what the Western Wall is and why the Western Wall is important? As we know it today, the Western Wall is one of the outer walls, one of the four retaining walls that used to surround the Temple Mount.
Herod built the Western Wall and the Temple that was part of this large compound, and after the destruction of the compound, we attribute the Western Wall the sanctity of the temple that stood there. The “Beit Hamikdash,” which also stood on the Temple Mount, contained several important spaces, one of which was the Holy of Holies. It was the most sacred place for the Jewish people. No one could enter that place except the High Priest on Yom Kippur.
The complex was so luxurious and impressive that it was said that those who never got to see it had never ‘seen a fine building all their life.’
The story of the Western Wall begins with a modest mountain – Mount Moriah. There have been significant events for the Jewish people on this mountain throughout history.
According to the tradition, the world’s creation began on the summit of Mount Moriah, from the same ancient stone called the “Drinking Stone.”
Furthermore, when Abraham was ordered to sacrifice Yitzhak, his son, the father and son went up to the place where it was said: “And he saw the place from afar”- it was Mount Moriah.
According to the tradition, this is the House of God from Jacob’s well-known dream, where he witnessed the angels going up and down on the ladder that was placed on the earth, yet his head was reaching heaven.
The destruction of the Temple by the Romans was a terrible disaster and a tragedy that followed the Jewish people. The temple structure was destroyed, but part of the retaining walls survived. In the absence of a temple, the Jews turned to the nearest relic available in its similarity: The Western Wall. Over the generations, the Western Wall has become the symbol of the Jewish Longings for its ruined city and the temple’s site. Many people gave their lives only to touch their stones and say their prayers within close distance.
When the Western Wall was liberated in the “Six-Day War,” one of the Jewish people’s greatest dreams was fulfilled.
Since then, the Western Wall has been bustling with visitors. Jews, tourists, worshippers, and many other visitors all find a place to express their hearts. The Western Wall – touches the hearts of all of us.
The custom of sending a prayer at the Western Wall –
Walking down the Jewish Quarter, reaching the Western Wall, and immediately searching the pockets to find a pen and paper, write capsule words of request. Some prepare the special note in advance at home, after giving thought to the words, and bother to decorate the words in their unique way.
Who puts a note on the Wall?
Almost everyone puts a note on the wall; it’s hard to define an exact population cut. These are children, adults, religious and non-religious visitors, residents of Israel, and foreign residents. Although many non-Jewish tourists generally don’t understand why Jews “choose” to make their Holy place a mess, there are also quite a few non-Jewish visitors, especially United States residents, who participate in the act.
How many years has this custom existed?
There is a piece of ancient evidence that from “Benjamin of Tudela,” some 850 years ago, Jews used to plant notes at the Western Wall. In the 18th century, Rabbi Haim Ben Attar did so, but the custom only seemed to become popular in the 19th century.
What language should the note be written in?
Many people’s logic says it should be written in Hebrew, yet many say that God understands all languages and hears everything they say and write to him, even if it’s the most distant language in the world.
How many notes can the Western Wall contain?
If you have not put your note on paper, it is likely to stay there naturally forever. But the Western Wall’s capacity is limited, and it fills up every few months, and the notes begin to fall on the floor.
What do you do with the notes when there is no more space?
A representative from the Western Wall Heritage Foundation collects the notes every six months into a large sack and transfers them for burial on the Mount of Olives. This is because it is likely that these notes have god’s name written on them, and therefore must be shed or buried in a Jewish cemetery.
What is the origin of the custom of notes at the Western Wall?
The answer to this consists of several reasons: some belief it to be a continuation of an ancient Jewish custom, in which Jews would put their name on the stones of the Western Wall! Some of the names written in capital letters can still be discerned about two meters above the worshippers’ heads. During the Mandate, the British banned the practice, and it seems that they started writing names and requests on notes from that moment. To this date, 40 names are listed on the Western Wall. Another opinion says that it is a copy of the Hasidic custom of placing a “coital” (in Yiddish – a note) on the grave of the late Admor, with requests for blessing, medicine, and luck. On the other hand, some believe that this is an incarnation of an ancient tradition, in which Jews used to write request notes to their fathers and mothers buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs and place them above their graves. Over the years, the custom has also begun into the Western Wall.
Wait, this is not the end – some believe that the source of the custom is in the requests that Durban emissaries (the rabbis’ emissaries) collected donations from Jews in the Diaspora. These were often moved by the coming of a Jew from Jerusalem, and they would give him the notes so that he would place them among the stones of the Western Wall.
And finally, some believe it is a “refinement” of an ancient custom of Jews to stick a nail in the Western Wall in preparation for a long journey. They believed that the nail would keep them based on the words “and stuck a stake in a faithful place” (Isaiah Chapter 22, C). The custom of sticking a nail in a wall in a holy place has a history from other faiths, such as the Christian custom of doing so in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher’s wall in Jerusalem.
Do only Jews put notes on the holy wall?
Not at all. There are many churches and tombs in The Christian World, which have become pilgrimage centers due to their connection to one saint or another. The faithful who worships the place lays among the Church’s stones the request notes, which are directed to the same saint.
What do they write in the notes?
All you want to ask from God – whether it is success towards a test, health, a good livelihood, a successful coupling, taking care of a soldier in the army, and much more. There is no “inappropriate” or “brazen” request. You can feel safe to ask everything that you want within your heart.
Are the requests that are listed in the note and are marked at the Western Wall taking place?
Yes (and if not, it is a sign you didn’t ask with all your heart).
Where should I put the note?
Every crack you find is empty. However, they say the requests come faster if you put the note inside the Western Wall tunnels, in part closest to the holies’ holy (the so-called Express Mail).
And what if I want a note to be put, yet I am not traveling in Israel?
Well, that is the reason we provide our service. To give Jews and Non-Jews the peace they need by placing their notes in the western wall every month.