One of the greatest privileges of living in Jerusalem, is that you can visit the Western Wall at any given time for just $1.75!
The Western Wall is a small remnant of the majestic Herodian wall that encircled the Temple Mount. The wall served as a fortification for the Temple, but more importantly, it was the border of the common world and the Divine. Outside these walls is the world of money, power, greed and lust; within these walls is God’s Presence, and therefore, love, charity, blessing and purity.
In 70 C.E. when the Romans conquered the Holy Land and destroyed its cities, the Jews of Jerusalem found refuge in the Temple. The people were protected by the Temple, and the Temple was protected by the mountain’s Wall. When the wall finally succumbed to the enemy’s lethal blows, the Temple and Jewish life in their homeland were immediately destroyed, too.
Yet, like her people, the Wall was not completely destroyed; her western part survived.
Like her people, the Wall changed hands from century to century, from one kingdom to another, but was not weakened by forces wishing to compromise her dignity and loyalty to her purpose.
Like her people, while it is ironic to refer to the small surviving fragment as grandeur, you cannot help feel so when looking upon her strength and perseverance.
Like her people, we can mourn the loss of her full glory by appreciating the small portion that still stands.
The Jewish people always felt connected to the Western Wall, for to us, this Great Wall is not just a structure built of stone; it is the story of our existence and the miracle of our survival. When praying at the Wall we confide with the only friend that understands and the only shoulder upon where we can shed a tear. We came from Spain in 1492, from Poland in 1648, from Lithuania in 1914, from Germany in 1936, and every year in between; poured our anguish into the cracks of the Wall, and the Wall silently cried with us, sharing similar fate. Indeed a Wailing Wall.
But at the same time, the Wall gives us great hope. It shows us that even if we are severely injured we can never be wiped out. Even if others rule over us, we can stand tall and strong as ever. It is why you can see marriage ceremonies and Bar Mitzva celebrations among other festivities in the Kotel Plaza, we don’t only come to mourn in pain; we also come to to celebrate blessing.
The bricks of this Wall are cemented together by tears of joy and hope. And millions of notes.