The Stones Of The Kotel
The Western Wall of old Jerusalem, i.e. the Kotel, is the Temple Mount’s impressive wall and borders it from the west. According to Jewish tradition, this is where the Temple was built and destroyed twice. And the Holy of Holies is the holiest place for the Jewish people, whose entrance was allowed only to the High Priest was and only on Yom Kippur. The Western Wall is the most sacred site of Judaism. Throughout history, many people risked their lives to fulfil the Jewish dream: to have the privilege of seeing the Western Wall with their own eyes, feel the Western Wall’s stones under their hands, and, of course, to pray there.
Apart from its unparalleled religious importance, the Western Wall has national and historical significance. The Western Wall is also impressive in its size and structure: the length of the Western Wall is about 488 meters, with the highest point being about 40 meters high. The Western Wall is made of limestones; being each stone with different weight and size. An advanced computerised system keeps documentation relative to each stone to track down each stone’s condition.
The Western Wall According To Jewish Tradition
According to the Tractate Brachot, the first Tractate in six Mishnahs, Jews must pray with their heart towards Jerusalem and the Temple: “And they prayed to this house; he stood in the temple, he would direct his heart against the Holy of Holies”. All Israel was leading their hearts to one place, Western Wall. Sages believed that “a Shechinah never moved from the Western Wall of the Temple”. Even in the Midrash Shir Hashirim Rabba, Parsha 2, verse 9, the Western Wall’s great importance is mentioned in words: “Here it stands behind our wall”, which means that the divine revelation never moved from the wall.
At the Western Wall, the beginning of the prayer can be assumed to be parallel to the Jewish community’s development in the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem, towards the 14th century. The first testimonies and records of the sages of Israel, Rabbis, and Jewish travellers from around the world, date from the 16th century and indicate that prayer was already common in the place. The reason for praying at the Western Wall is mostly because everyone agreed upon it; indeed, this is the closest place to the Holy of Holies. Today, you can see many worshipers in the Western Wall plaza at all hours of the day, a plaza dedicated to prayers.
The Western Wall National Significance
Throughout history, the Western Wall has known conflicts and conquests. Undoubtedly, one of the most moving and beloved photos is the famous victory image of photographer David Rubinger, dated June 7, 1967, where three paratroopers look at the Western Wall, which was returned to Israel at the end of the Six-Day War. The importance of the Western Wall for Israel, and the Jewish people, is well known. Apart from the Bar Mitzvah ceremonies, the maturation ceremonies in the Jewish tradition, many of the IDF swearing-in ceremonies are held with senior military officials, dignitaries, guests, and families.
Arriving At The Western Wall And Praying There
The Western Wall is not only the heart of Jerusalem religiously and historically, but its location is also very central being in the heart of the Jewish Quarter. There are many paid parking lots in the area, which are usually busy; hence, it is recommended to get there by public transport. From the central station of Jerusalem, you can reach the Western Wall on bus lines 1 and 3 of Egged. If you are in the Jewish Quarter, you can travel on lines 38 or 38A, since it goes around the Jewish Quarter, passing through the Western Wall. You can reach the “municipality” station by light rail from the Jerusalem train station Yitzhak Navon. From there, continue by foot, it is about a twenty-minute walk through the Jewish Quarter.
The Jewish Quarter is very worth to visit. We even have recommendations of routes: The walls of the Old Jerusalem and the Tower of David, from the Jaffa Gate to the Horba Synagogue and from the Horba Synagogue to the Western Wall. The entrance to the Western Wall is open to the public and is free of charge. Remember that this is a very sacred place, hence, be sure to dress modestly. A well-known custom is to put a note in the Western Wall, according to the belief, in this way, requests come from the heart to God. There is no improper request, and apart from praying on the spot, you can write on a note and ask for everything is in your mind.