The Western Wall

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History of the Wall Power and the Wall Gender and the Wall Links

History of the Wall

The Western wall is the last remnant of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, which was destroyed in 70 CE by Titus and the Roman legions. Interestingly, the Romans did not destroy the protective wall which surrounded the Temple. This last remnant of the Temple quickly became one of the most celebrated religious sites in Jerusalem. The Kotel ha-Ma'aravi (Western Wall) stands upon the Temple Mount and stretches 200 meters. For many reasons the wall attracts visitors from around the world. It is one of the holiest sights in Jerusalem and some believed that here Abraham bound Isaac. Jewish people have been praying at the wall for two thousand years and travel from around the world to gather and pray at this holy site. Jews pray facing the wall three times daily, often in tears which is why some refer to the wall as the "Wailing Wall". In fact, the wall is an ancient praying site for Jews since the Middle Ages and the sheer longevity of the wall is phenomenal. This leads many Jews to believe that the wall is holy and has been blessed by God.

Power and the Wall

Aside from the historical significance of the wall, another attraction to the wall stems from the perception of the wall as an appropriate metaphor for the struggle of survival of the Jewish people themselves. For just as the Jewish peoples' existence has been endangered over the course of history, the wall's existence has been threatened as well. The Romans burned the entire Temple but inexplicably left the outer wall unscathed. Remarkably, the wall still exists and just as remarkably so do the Jews. This religious connection that many Jews feel with the wall, arguably makes the wall the most powerful and emotional religious site in Jerusalem. The amount of people that come to the wall to pray on a daily basis is amazing and the emotion that is so commonly exhibited by these people leaves many observers in awe. The wall also holds an important position within ancient Jewish prophecies. One being that the Holy Temple will eventually be reconstructed. Rebuilt in its original form, standing upon the Temple Mount surrounded by the wall. The second prophecy involves the arrival of the Messiah, for some Jews attest that only the true Messiah will cause enough power for the Temple's construction. Whether a person is Jewish or not, the power that the wall holds within the Jewish community is undeniable.

Gender and the Wall

Although the Wall is considered by Jews as a holy place of worship it does not allow for all members of the Jewish community to pray in the same area. Orthodox Jews believe that women should not don prayer shawls or lead services and should be separated from men during prayer. So, Jewish women are expected to pray at a specific area of the wall without Torahs. Some women, who have attempted to pray at the wall have even encountered violence from Orthodox men. Unfortunately, the space at the Wall is not entirely equal and the Israeli government, for fear of the power of the Orthodox within Jerusalem will not protect a woman who wants to pray at any part of the wall. Instead women must pray at a separate area of the wall and if they feel inclined to pray elsewhere there is a chance she would be met by men who use violence as a deterrent. The mob rule of the Western Wall is unfortunate but indicative of Orthodox gender practice in general, in which women are not permitted to read from the Torah, pray in the same area as men or allowed to lead religious services. We may conclude that the separatism that occurs at the wall is not an isolated event but rather an extension of Orthodox Jewish practice concerning gender.


Messianic prophecy concerning the Wall

Wailing Wall Kvitel Service Send a message to put in the wall.

Window On The Wall 24 Hour view of the Western Wall.