The Western Wall

Hebrew HA-KOTEL HA-MA'ARAVI, also called WAILING WALL, in the Old City of Jerusalem, a place of prayer and pilgrimage sacred to the Jewish people.The lower courses (partially below street level) are remainders of the Herodian retaining wall of a vast platform established in the late 1st century BCE, to enlarge the space surrounding the temple, also rebuilt by Herod, to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims assembled in Jerusalem during the three annual pilgrimage festivals (Passover, Weeks/Pentecost, and Booth/Tabernacles/Sukkoth).

The western walls of the temple destroyed by the Roman general Titus in AD70, were later associated with a lingering presence of the divine Indwelling or Shekhinah. Only over the last two centuries or so has the western retaining wall (whose upper courses are of Ottoman date) become the locus of Jewish ritual piety. (Medieval sources attest annual congregations on the Mount of Olives and other sacred locations as focal points of Jewish ritual piety).


The space extending from the wall was created by Israeli authorities in June 1967, immediately following the Six-Day-War, by bulldozing the 800-year-old Mughrabi or Moroccan quarter, one of the first awaqf established after the fall of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. The controversy over these measures is the subject of the first sequence in Lord Ashdown's documentary on Jerusalem.


Other recommended online links to the Western Wall:


Click on the large image above for a live view of the Western Wall (Source: Aish Hatorah).

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