The Western Wall
While the first and second temples of Jerusalem are now nothing more than rubble and ashes, the masses of pilgrims still have reason to pass through the Dung gate to the Western Wall. This 50 foot stone block retaining wall which supported the platform, on which the temple once stood, was once a part of the actual Temple complex and is one of four surviving walls today. Some of its stones actually date back to the time of Herod the great who rebuilt the temple.
The Jewish people prefer to call this site the ‘Western Wall’ as opposed to the ‘Wailing Wall’ as one travel writer once called it. On this holy ground the Jewish people come to mourn the loss of their empire. They mourn the cities of David and Solomon and the destruction of the temple on the Mount just above this wall. The prayers often take on the form of chanting and singing,
Here the Jews contemplate the many hardships endured throughout their history as they pray for the return of the glory of the ancient past. The western wall is treated as the synagogue and so men must cover their heads. The Torah is read aloud on Thursday mornings and Bar Mitzvahs are a common sight on Saturdays.
On looking at the plaza one realises that there are no trees planted in the courtyard. This is a sign of mourning until the third and final temple remains unbuilt. The whole area is divided into two sections one for women and one for men. There is ancient custom of leaving petitions in the cracks of the walls. It is now even possible to fax your prayers to the western wall from any part of the world. It is believed that requests left between these huge stones of the wall will get special attention from God as this is the only part of the temple complex that survived the Roman destruction.
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