I could not even begin to imagine the joy our Jewish friends encountered during that first visit back to the Western Wall following the 1967 War! With the Old City of Jerusalem in Jordanian hands for nearly two decades, and with almost two dozen Jewish synagogues destroyed in the Jewish Quarter during this time, the Israeli Defense Force was finally able to liberate the Old City. Once this happened, 1,000’s of Jews stormed the Western Wall area. Here, they prayed, danced, and cried.
The crowd included the Ultra Orthodox, Generals, company Commanders, and common Israeli soldiers among many others. Chief Rabbi of the IDF since 1948, Brigadier General Shlomo Goren, blew his shofar in celebration of the liberation. Torah scrolls were were unrolled and read. It must have been a life-changing scene for every Jew there on this special 7th day of June!
When one visits The Kotel (Western/Wailing Wall) today, the area buzzes with excitement. Archaeologically, the Wall served as a retaining wall used by Herod the Great when he expanded the Temple Mount. The levels of Herodian stone that can be seen testify to the grandeur of the Temple (although the mid and top sections of the Wall date are not from this 2nd Temple Period). No wondered the disciples in Jesus’ day commented on the beauty of the Temple (Mark 13:1-2). Bar Mitzvah celebrations take place here, bringing a certain joyous spirit to the place in contrast to the quiet moments of prayer that take place here.
The primary reason Jews come here is to pray. People still place their written prayers into the cracks of the wall. It is estimated that over a million prayer notes are placed in the wall each year. Twice a year, these written prayers are taken twice a year from the wall and buried on the Mt. of Olives.
Once I was at the Wall at night when a whole group of 100’s of Yeshiva students came from the upper Jewish Quarter. They came singing, dancing, and carrying a new Torah scroll. They came to the Wall to celebrate this brand new copy of God’s Word, a task that would have taken a scribe a few years to complete. Smiles radiated from every face!
If you want to vist the Wall online, you can go to The Kotel. Here you can view the Wall via a “live cam” 24/7. You can even choose from three different angles.
Indeed, the Western Wall is a special place!