Friday, June 14, 2013

Kotel, Western Wall or Wailing Wall?

Kotel, Western Wall, Wailing Wall . I've heard all three used. I'm confused. Which one is it?
Nayna explained it to me.
Kotel means wall in Hebrew. Jewish people use this word, or they'll sometimes say Western Wall because its the retaining wall on the Western side closest to the Temple Mount. Non Jewish people sometimes call it the Wailing Wall because of two reasons. They hear people crying there as they pray and it sounds like wailing. Another is because a long time ago, Jews could only go to their holy place - the Temple area once a year and they would cry and wail because of the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.
Did you know that I stood on Mount Moriah? That's where God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. And that's where the Temple stood - on this very mountain.

 There is a short divider between the men's and women's section. We walked up to the Wall - women's side and found a place to pray. Nayna says that she feels God's presence at the Kotel. People all around us were praying too - I could hear their whispers. I felt like I was in a holy place.
I noticed lots of small pieces of paper tucked into every nook and cranny around the stones. I found out that people write prayers on these pieces of paper. I got tears in my eyes when I realized so many people were asking God for help. I'm glad He's big enough to respond to every one of these prayers as well as the ones spoken by everyone at the Wall.

We still had time before we needed to meet Papa in the Plaza so we found an empty, white plastic chair and sat by the wall. I could hear singing and men's voices praying on the other side of the divider. It was much louder on their side.
I looked up and admired the stones in the wall. They were made of limestone and they were huge! Little birds and pigeons swooped and soared around bushes growing out of the cracks between the stones.

It was time to leave. I was sad because I could have stayed near the Kotel for a long time. It was so peaceful as we sat in the shade.

We met up with Papa and began our short walk out to meet our taxi driver.
There were so many IDF (Israeli Defense Force) soldiers in the Plaza and an area nearby was set up with a stage and big white screen. I felt very safe with so many young men and women in uniform. I found out later that they were being commissioned for duty in the Golan Heights. We prayed for their safety as we were leaving.

 Nayna pointed out this section on the Southern end of the Kotel It's called Robinson's Arch and was a stairway from the Old City streets up to the Temple. Here's a picture from www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org
that shows what it might have looked like.


 This is the last picture Nayna took at the Kotel - a permanent hanukkiah next to Israel's flag. Do you know the difference between a hanukkiah and a menorah?
Join me next time when we continue our journey back to Tel Aviv and our Friday escapades.





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