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The Kotel: Israel’s Spiritual Center

Published on Monday January 13th, 2020

According to our tradition, the Kotel (Western Wall) is an extension of the wall of the Temple Mount which encircled and protected the second Beit Hamikdash. This wall was strengthened and restored during the reign of King Herod, who reestablished the second Temple and refurbished its surrounding areas. The wall’s length reaches approximately 400 meters. Only a part is visible, as the rest has been buried by construction over construction through the centuries.

The Kotel has been, according to Jewish tradition, the permanent dwelling of the divine presence since the erection of the Beit Hamikdash. One of the verses of Shir Hashirim (The Song of Songs):  "Behold, it is behind your wall," is explained by our Sages as the wall of the Beit Hamikdash from which the Divine Presence never departed.

Nearly 2000 years have passed since the destruction of the Second Temple. A multitude of enemies have not only sacked, but also ravaged and sowed desolation at the Temple. They sought to erase all memories related to its existence and deny the presence of the Beit Hamikdash. With this in mind, they ploughed the ground of the Temple Mount and moved its earth and stones to flatten the surface permanently. But they forgot many specific places where different walls of the Beit Hamikdash stood.

Extraordinary fact: despite many attempts to destroy it, the Kotel proudly stands in its place. This wall is considered as "the gates of Heaven", the sanctity of the Beit Hamikdash has been there for centuries and the prayers of the people of Israel rise up to Hashem at the Kotel more than in any other place.

All the prayers of the people of Israel, throughout generations, have been directed to the Beit Hamikdash and the Temple Mount. Jews from all over the world flock to the Kotel, certain that the holiness of this place makes it easier to feel close to Hashem and reach loftier spiritual peaks. The Kotel has become the perfect place to pour your heart to Hashem. People cry out their sorrow and shout with joy during the holidays. Every Jew at the Kotel can feel that he has finally reached home. The heart of the Jewish people throbs very intensely in this holy place.

The Kotel is the only vestige left of the Beit Hamikdash; it also symbolizes its destruction. No other place in the world is as moving and mind-blowing as the Kotel, where visitors also experience the pain of the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash. We no longer have the merit to see the Cohanim in their divine service, nor can we hear the songs of the Leviim. Nor can we witness the entire People flock to the Beit Hamikdash on the occasion of the three major festivals. It is therefore not surprising to note that the Kotel has become the address par excellence for all who hope and yearn for the redemption and the coming of the Messiah. In our time, the Kotel is the epicenter of the Land of Israel. The spirituality of the entire Jewish nation owes its lofty dimension to the presence of Kotel. It makes everyone internalize that the Land of Israel is the Land of our Forefathers and that now is the time of the ingathering of the exiles. Visitors cling to the Kotel’s stones, pray, and hope to see the day when the entire world recognizes that the Land of Israel is holy and that it was given by the Creator to the People of Israel for eternity.

The Torah-Box Team - © Torah-Box

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