The Western Wall – What is it?

A few words about the Western Wall, what its importance is and why we pray for it.

The tremendous joy that swept over the people of Israel during the Six-Day War, when the famous declaration “The Temple Mount was in our hands,” was no mere joy. In their mind’s eye millions of Jews have already imagined themselves standing at the foot of the Western Wall, looking at it with longing and pouring out a discourse to the Creator of the Universe, who will receive their prayers willingly.

So what is the Western Wall?

 Why do we treat him so reverently?

The Western Wall is one of the four walls that surrounded the Temple Mount during the period when the Temple existed. According to tradition, the foundations for its construction were laid by King David, peace be upon him, and its continuation was built by Herod and the rulers of the place in later periods, including after the destruction of the Temple.

The Temple Mount is a holy place, and Jews have avoided entering it since the Temple was destroyed. This is because of the severe prohibition that the Torah prohibits from entering the site of the Mikdash without purifying it previously with red ashes, and even though the Temple is not there, the holiness remains in its place, and we can not enter the area on which it stood. Because we do not know exactly where the Temple stood, we refrain from entering the whole area of ​​the Temple Mount, and therefore the closest place we can reach is the Western Wall.

Our wise men of blessed memory exaggerate the importance of the Western Wall and tell us: “The Shekhina never moved from the Western Wall.” Some believe that the Western Wall served as a wall even for the Temple itself, and not just as a wall surrounding it.

Over the years, Jews also prayed at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, as well as along the southern wall, parts of which survived the destruction, but in recent centuries the Western Wall has become a primary and unified place of prayer for all Jews.

According to Jewish law, when a Jew sees the remnant of the Temple, he must tear his clothes as a sign of mourning for the destruction of the Temple. Today, it is customary not to tear the clothes, but those who dress in Halakha tend to give their clothes as gifts to a friend before they reach the Western Wall, so they are exempt from tearing clothes.
May we merit the building of the Temple quickly in our time, and we will be able to purify ourselves in the ashes of a red heifer, to enter the Temple Mount and offer sacrifices before God.

Jacob Lustig


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