The Western Wall

“For My house shall be called a house of prayer to all nations of the world”
(Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 56, 7) 

What exactly is the Western Wall?

The Western Wall is the last remaining remnant of the western retaining wall upon which the Second Holy Temple grounds stood in Jerusalem, almost 2,000 years ago. According to tradition passed down from generation to generation, G-d’s presence will never abandon this site. People come from all over the world to pray there to G-d.

This was the spot upon which Adam made an offering to G-d.

This was the spot upon which Cain and Hevel (Abel) brought their offering.

This is the spot upon which Noah brought his offering after exiting the ark.

This is the spot upon which Abraham bound Isaac.

This site, today and historically, has been a place where all nations of the world have come to pray:  “As My house will be called a house of prayer to all the nations”

There were two Holy Temples in Jerusalem:  The first was built by King Solomon, and ten miracles would occur there daily. Around 400 years later it was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. After 70 years, the Jews returned to their land and rebuilt the Holy Temple. 

Although many of the daily miracles were missing in this second temple, the Jews were able to serve G-d there, and the miracle of Hannukah occurred during this time – some 180 years after the temple was built. After around another 400 years, the second Holy Temple was destroyed by the Romans. However, this remnant of the western supporting wall has remained, and is still standing proudly ever since.

It is promised that one day the third Holy Temple will be built on this spot.

What is this custom of placing a note in the Wall?

If you’d go visit the Western Wall right now,  you’d find many people standing at the Wall, praying – but you’d probably also see someone crumple up a little note and then step up to the Wall, searching for an available crevice between the stones in which to stick it.

You’re absolutely right. We are not praying to the Wall, we are praying to G-d. 

The reason we pray at the Wall to G-d is that the Talmud promises that G-d’s presence will never abandon this site.

This custom is said to have started at the beginning of the 1800’s.

Additionally, Rabbi Chaim Ben-Atar (lived more than 300 years ago) author of the Ohr Hachaim commentary on the Torah is said to have once advised a poor person to stick a note in between the stones of the Western Wall, requesting G-d for sustenance.

Well, actually, they do completely fill up the crevices after a while – once every half a year, these notes are collected and buried on the Mount of Olives. 

The reason they are buried and not thrown out into the regular garbage, is out of respect for these prayers to G-d.