THE RABBIS BY THE WESTERN WALL

My favorite place in Jerusalem was the Western Wall, sometimes incorrectly called the “Wailing Wall.” In Hebrew, it’s Kotel — it rhymes with motel. I used to go to the Kotel to pray and leave messages for God.

Western-Wall-Placard-1000x666

I loved the approach to the Temple mount. I would stand for a while, looking down at it from the approaching steps, trying to form an image of what it must have looked like when it was the hill where God talked to Isaac, where God said that He would never again ask for another human sacrifice. So what was with all the war and massacre and death? Doesn’t that count?

Then I would walk down the stone steps to the wall and get as close as I could get, so my nose grazed the Wall. I would lay my cheek and the palms of my hands flat against it and feel the humming of power in those ancient stones.

Western wall overview

From close up, you see the messages, tens of thousands of messages rolled tightly into tiny scrolls tucked in the crevices between the rocks. Every kind of prayer, every kind of message, all on tiny folded pieces of paper, cradled by giant stones.

Tucked between the stones were all the prayers, hopes, fears, and gratitude of people who came to this special place to leave a messages for God.

The Wall talks to you and says “You can leave your message here. God always checks his messages and He will get back to you.”

I always brought a message and tucked it into the stones. I knew God would read my message and get back to me. As surely as I knew Jerusalem is the center of the universe and closer to Heaven than any place on earth, I knew I lived down the street from his message center. If every prayer is heard, prayers left at this address got to Him sooner.

western wall with notes

There were groups of rabbis who spent their lives praying at the Wall. For a small fee, they would pray for you. If you believe there is a special potency to the prayers of pious men, the rabbis of the Kotel were worth a donation. They didn’t ask for much – whatever you could afford and for your money, you got a prayer specialist to put the word in for you.

I probably went to the Kotel more than a hundred times over the years, but I most remember one day above all others. I went that day because my mother was dying. I wanted to ask God to give my mother and I some time together.

It seemed pointless to pray for her cancer to be cured. It had spread too far, had invaded too much. I knew it was her time. I accepted death, even my mother’s, but time didn’t seem too much to ask. I bought prayers from the rabbis, then went to the Wall and left my message among the stones.

Almost 40 years have passed, but I bet my message is still there, exactly where I left it. With all the other messages left for God in the Western Wall at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.



Categories: Archeology, Architecture, Israel, Personal

Tags: , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. hi Marilyn, this sounds like a lovely place. Somewhere to be close to god, I really love the idea of all the messages left among the stones. ❤

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  2. I like to think we will be with our loved ones again at some point.
    Leslie

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  3. I only knew the Western Wall as The Wailing Wall, and never knew it to be a derogatory term, because to me it meant: Where people go with their grief and problems and put their prayer between the stones of that wall….. When I went to J in the eighties, what struck me was the ‘covered heads’ of men and long sleeves and headscarf or such on women. THAT I didn’t know. It’s interesting to learn more.

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    • Wailing Wall isn’t derogatory. It’s just wrong. It was called that because Jews “wailed” there about the loss of their Temple. HaKotel HaMa’aravi, shortened usually to “Kotel” simply means “western” wall.

      Orthodox Jews have significantly different habits than the less religious. Many of their rituals are as strange to me as anyone else. It’s sort of like the difference between being Catholic and being a Nun. There are a few differences.

      Liked by 1 person

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