Where is the Wailing Wall and Why is it a Holy Spot?3 min read
Located at the foot of the Noble Sanctuary and the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Wailing Wail is a holy spot where Jews come to pray and to weep with grief at the loss of the Holy Temple, the Seat of God. Legend says that each year, on the eve of Tisha B’Av, a white dove perches upon the Wall and cries out in mourning. The dew that glistens upon the wall evokes the image of teardrops, as if the dove had cried all through the night.
What is the Meaning of the Wailing Wall?
The Wailing Wall meaning refers to the grief felt by the Jewish people at the loss of their ancient temple. According to the teachings of the Talmud, only the Gate of Tears remained after the temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. Here, modern-day Jews come to empty their hearts in prayer to God. Because of the tears shed throughout the centuries by devout Jews, the Western Wall became known as the Wailing Wall. Throughout the devastation, turmoil, and triumph of the Jewish people, they would journey to Jerusalem in order to pray at the Wall, no matter what obstacles barred their way.
Why is the Western Wall Holy?
In Judaism, holiness and history are forever entwined. After King David made Jerusalem the capital of his kingdom three thousand years ago, his son Solomon built the Holy Temple; the wise and prescient monarch asked God to hear the prayers of non-Jews as well as Jews.
This sacred spot has been a place of pilgrimage and prayer for Jews throughout its history, as well as a site of reverence for believers who come to the Wailing Wall to leave their petitions to God. The city of Jerusalem has suffered destruction and reconstruction nine times. The Western or Wailing Wall remains an eternal symbol that God will always keep his promise to preserve the Jewish people.
When was the Western Wall Built?
The building of the First Temple began in 950 BCE, dividing the labor into four parts. The legend says that the Western Wall, which was built by the poor who did the work themselves because they could not afford to hire workers to do it for them, was blessed by the Spirit of God. That blessing kept the Western side standing throughout the destruction that the centuries of occupation and oppression and exile brought to the Jewish people. The Babylonians destroyed the temple when they conquered Jerusalem in 586 BCE and took the Jewish people as slaves. But when the exiles returned in 537 BCE, they began to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.
The Second Temple lacked the grandeur of Solomon’s Temple and Herod the Great, the controversial monarch whose other building projects included the fortress at Masada and the construction of the port at Caesarea Maritima, refurbished the structure, restoring its architectural glory. In 70 BCE, the Roman Emperor Nero, exacting punishment for a Jewish rebellion, ordered future emperor Vespasian to destroy the temple, a task Vespasian assigned to his son, Titus. The exile or Jewish Diaspora ensued during the centuries when the land was occupied by foreign invaders. In 1948, the Jewish State of Israel was created and in 1967, following the victory in the Six-Day War, the Jewish people could pray again at the Western Wall, the remnant of the Second Temple that remains.
What is Another Name for the Wailing Wall?
The Wailing Wall is also known as the Western Wall (Ha-Kotel or Kotel in Hebrew) for its location on the western side of the Second Temple. Ancient beliefs hold that the presence of God has dwelled there for a thousand years, which give it another name, the Ear of God.
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