So today I experienced my first visit to the Western Wall of the old Temple. For many people it is commonly known as the “Wailing Wall”. The reason for that nickname is rather interesting and something I never actually knew. After years of captivity and pain, the Jews were allowed to mourn for the Temple outside the Temple. Cries of sorrow and heartbreak resounded. Now Israel is its own nation. Jews have their freedom to come to the Western wall of the Temple to pray, to weep, to cry…to wail. For what? For some it is for provision; for others it is for personal healing; for others it is for weeping of things they do not even know.
One must know the layout and setup of the Temple and this specific area to really know the affect it can have on someone. Walking into the side where the Western Wall is, men and women are separated. Men must wear a kippa/yamuka or a hat. Women must be dressed modestly. Walking toward the wall now, men go to the left where they have the freedom to pray, to enter libraries, tunnels, etc. They celebrate bar mitzvas for the boys at age 13 right there by the Wall. That is where those boys are considered men and, for the first time, they can read the Scripture and Law publicly. Women on the other hand, I got a closer look at. The women’s section for the Wall is directly on the other side of where the Holy of Holies was located. The Holy of Holies is where the Name [the LORD] dwelt. Only the priest could enter. The women, especially very orthodox Jewish women, pray will such reverence. It was a reverence I have never seen before. They prayed for hours, I am sure. The women would read privately from the books of the Law, or other writings. They would pray at the wall gently placing their hands on the stone. As they leave the Wall, women, rather than turning around to walk away, they back up from the wall. Many of the women went as far as walking backwards to the gate of the women’s section. What is the reasoning for walking backward? The women feel that by walking backwards they still honor the LORD in the Holy of Holies- they refuse to turn their back to Him. Both the men and women place pieces of papers, usually rolled like a scroll, into the cracks on the wall. Those papers are never thrown away. When the papers fall from the cracks in the wall, the papers are collected separate from trash, and buried with old Bibles, Scriptures, etc. The Jews strongly feel that they cannot disrespect the name of God. If God’s name is written on any paper, they cannot throw it away. Since the papers are not read, all are buried as sacred.
This morning was an opportunity to see a world outside of anything I could have ever known elsewhere. The presence of devotion, dedication, and reverence to the LORD is beyond anything I have seen. What would happen if every Christian prayed to God with the same attitude? With the same reverence? What would happen if we would each have our “wailing wall” and cry before God to meet Him? What would happen if we each recognized the Holy of Holies was nearby and we would refuse to turn our back on it? I leave those answers to you. But I will tell you this: the world would be very different.