Saturday, December 2, 2017

At the Western Wall (HaKotel Hamaaravi)



No trip to Israel or Jerusalem is complete without being at the Western Wall -  a unique place of prayer for jewish and non -jewish visitors.  The wall , a fragment of the original Wall, is the only remnant of the Great Temple and therefore the most sacred structure to Jews who feel that the Divine Presence has not left the place with the destruction of the holy temple.


the golden Dome of the Rock in the background

the Wall seen from the main plaza 

elderly orthodox jew walking along the main square

I haven't been at the Western Wall (also known as the Wailing Wall) in a long while, and that has bothered me. 
So, a week before the arrival of December - last month of the year and the first month of winter, I finally decided to go to Jerusalem and visit the Wall, have some praying near the ancient rocks and insert a written wish in a crack between them ,absorb the spiritual atmosphere dominating the place, look around to see what's new or changed on the site, and take a few pictures.

Welcome poster

Me (my head covered with a cap) praying.....

slips of paper with people's written wishes in the crevices of the wall

philipino women at the wall

Besides the massive crowds of visitors from all over the world, there are soldiers and policemen at the spot, to ensure security; also a lot of white plastic chairs for the elderly to sit and pray in comfort.

However, what immediately catches the eye is the separation between men and women, both at the entrance security Check, and  at the Prayer site near the wall . 

women's prayer section (see the greenish separating fence)

lots of white plastic chairs

women of all ages (girl, young  female soldiers, elderly women).

I don't mind the segregation itself ( in crowded places like this one, it prevents opportunities of minor sexual harassment , and that's good). I do mind, though, the fact that the women's prayer section is smaller than that of the men's section. Why this inequality?  In fact,during my visit (on a regular day, in the early afternoon hours), there were more women praying at the wall than men.

both prayer sections and the greenish fence between them

men's prayer section

People leaving the prayer site usually do so with the face to the wall, out of respect. It reminds me of our family female doctor who has once told me this: 'your father is a most remarkable person; he never leaves my office with the back to me'.



46 comments:

Vera said...

Over the years I have come to learn a lot about Israel through the words of your blog, and this one is one of the most interesting for me.
I am reminded of the town of Lourdes, which is a short distance away from where we live. There is no separation between men and women, but there is a large amount of tourists mixing with the people who just want to pray. Somehow the place still seems to hold a spiritual magic despite the many people milling about. The same seems to be true of The Wailing Wall.

DUTA said...

I've heard about Lourdes, the town in southern France, a place of miraculous healing. I suppose it is visited by masses of people just like the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. The faith and prayers of the visitors create that atmosphere of magic and spirituality that dominates these sites.

Saleslady371 said...

Hi, Duta!
Oh, I enjoyed your visit at this most holy site. I know that Father God is everywhere and He cannot be contained in a building, but what an amazing experience to visit and pray at the wailing wall. It is one of my cherished memories and gifts that cannot be boxed to feel the presence like that. I know you'll go again and if you remember as you stand there praying, please call out my name to Him and tell him how much I love Him for me! Thanks.

DUTA said...

I'm glad about how you feel about your visit and praying at the Wailing Wall. I'll sure mention your name to God when I go again to that very special place.

Ramakrishnan Ramanathan said...

A place with such a long history - a place which has been under the control of so many different Empires over the centuries. And finally under Israel since 1967. Hope to visit it some day.

DUTA said...

Long history, indeed. It has it all; not only history, but also archeology, faith, religion, arab-jewish conflict, you name it.

Pam said...

Goodness, I find a comment from Israel on my blog! what a long way away from my Scotland. How interesting - hello to you.

DUTA said...

Hello to you too. Welcome, and thanks for stopping by.

I was just reading about the Scottish hospital, now a fine hotel in Tiberias, on the edge of Lake Kinneret. I might go to Tiberias on a day trip, weather permitting, and I'll have a look at this pearl of the Galilee.

Alicia said...

About 40 some years ago I was still in high school and I remember going on a school trip to visit a college in Southern California. My friends and I ran into a group of "hippies" children of the 60's. We were so excited to be talking to them and somehow the conversation was steered to church and one of them mentioned how silly it was for us to go to church, that God doesn't live in a box, God is everywhere so why go to one place and box God in? I was stunned and speechless, no one had ever questioned my faith or my religion or my place of worship.

I wish I had known then what I know now, that God can't be boxed in, true, he's not only in this church or that that temple, but his love and his presence definitely is felt more strongly by us in places such as the Wailing Wall where you put it perfectly into words for me "The faith and prayers of the visitors create that atmosphere of magic and spirituality that dominates these sites."

Amazing post and photographs DUTA!

shayndel said...

It"s so beautiful and special to see these photos of your visit to the Western Wall. it feels as if we have been invited in to see something so intimate. And as you went at the end of the year, its like you brought us too for a visit in December. After my comment I will stay a little and make a prayer too. Blessings and Shalom!!♡

DUTA said...

What a beautiful story! Your friend was right - God is evertwhere, not in a "box" , call it church, mosque or synagogue.

The Wailing Wall, though sacred to jews, is an open-air place for everyone on the planet( regardless race, gender or religion) to pray to God/meditate/pour out tears.

Thanks, Alicia, for your kind words.

DUTA said...

Thanks a lot for your words.
December is meaningful to me as I was born in December.
I have a little book of prayers of all sorts (very dear to me); in addition I composed a special prayer at home for the visit to the Kotel. It is based on prayers found on the internet, written by people who're more knowledgeable in these holy matters.
Blessings to you too!!

shayndel said...

That's so touching to hear more about the special prayer.
Your birthday is December?! Mine too!
Happy Birthday...soon (or already?!)
!

DUTA said...

Happy Birthday to you too!
(off the record, between the two of us, mine is on 27 of December).

Peace Thyme said...

Nice to meet you Duta. This is my first time at your site. Could I ask a question? What eventually happens to all the slips of paper with all those thoughts and wishes?

DUTA said...

Nice to meet you too. Welcome to my little blog!

As to your question, they say the slips of paper get collected, put into bags and burried in the cemetery on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. The question is how often? I've heard twice a year. Well, if the burial takes place twice a year - that's reasonable. But the collection, in my opinion has to be done daily as the cracks are overflowing with the paper slips daily. So, that's something I don't know for sure, and I'm curious about it.

Krystal // Village said...

i love when you're visiting places, the way you write about it is like i can be there!

Lee said...

I always enjoy your posts, DUTA...they are interesting and fascinating...and this one doesn't disappoint. :)

I have great respect for your country and for its people.

Pam said...

This is a place steep in history that I would truly love to visit, pray and leave a slip of paper there. It has to be very inspiring and a fabulous experience to pray and meditate there. You are lucky to be able to visit. Interesting with leaving the area, and facing the wall, a great way to show respect and like what the doctor said about your father. He must've been quite a caring person.
Thanks for the visit, for sharing this marvelous wall! Take care

DUTA said...

Thank you, Krystal. That's the idea - to make the reader feel a participant in the visit.

DUTA said...

I feel flattered by your kind words, Lee.
Well, the Western Wall is an interesting and fascinating site. As for my country, despite the criticism I have for her, it has achieved great things and deserves respect.

DUTA said...

A visit to the Wailing Wall is always a great experience in spirituality, humbleness,thankfulness to God.

Yes, my father, RIP, was a very polite, respectful person. I'm afraid there aren't many people like him anymore nowadays.
Thanks for your lovely comment.

Haddock said...

One of the places I have yet to visit.
Wonder how long the slips of paper last in those crevices.

DUTA said...

Those in charge, say they treat the slips of paper like holy pages,from collection till burial, but who knows... Anyway , see my answer to Peace Thyme.

Lois Evensen said...

What a beautiful place. And, what an emotional visit. Thank you for sharing.

DUTA said...

Very emotional! People are crying out their hearts here, hoping to be heard and helped by God.

Red Rose Alley said...

Duta, how nice that you got to visit this place again. I always wondered what the golden dome was in the distance, and didn't realize it was so close to the Western Wall. Isn't that something that more women are praying in their prayer sections than men? I like the picture of all the notes and wishes being left in the crevices of the walls. I'm glad you got to spend time here once again.

~Sheri

Kim Standard said...

Oh the wailing wall is so interesting. The history, part of the wall still stands. Yes they need more women space. I think women pray more!

DUTA said...

The Golden Dome is a muslim shrine. It is a recognized UNESCO world heritage site.

According to Islam , the rock at its center is the place where prophet Muhammed ascended to heaven to get instructions from Allah. According to Judaism, the rock is the site where Abraham sacrificed his son Isaac.

The picture with the slips of paper is a Hit.

DUTA said...

The foundations of the Wall can be seen during a tour of the tunnels (it has to be booked in advance).
I also think, we, women pray more.

Sharon Wagner said...

I like this as a sign of respect, the backwards walking. I hope your prayers are heard.

DUTA said...

Thank you. I hope so too.
As for the backward walking - I too like and appreciate this sign of respect whether for a holy place or for another person.

rainfield61 said...

I like your post very much.
And the history.
And many more.

DUTA said...

Thank you.It's a special site, and there's a lot to write about it, but in a blog post I have to limit myself, so that readers don't get bored.

Jenn Jilks said...

You are right. Interesting more seats for men than women.

Jenn Jilks said...

Mine is on the 26th!

DUTA said...

Happy Birthday! Many happy returns of the Day!

DUTA said...

Ultra orthodox men are in charge of the place, so this is the result. It's not quiet; women have protested, but so far,things remain the same.

Joyce Lansky said...

I was at the wall a little over a year ago. It is a wonderful place, but I worry about my friends in Jerusalem. I hope peace can be returned to the region after Trump stirred the pot by stating what we all know and accept yet angering many as a result.

DUTA said...

I'm glad you had the chance of being there. As for Peace, I feel I must repeat here a joke mentioned by me in a previous post about the Wall.

A CNN journalist interviewing an old jewish man...
- Sir,how long have you been coming to the wall and praying?
- For about 60 years.
-What do you pray for?
- I pray for peace between jews and arabs.
- How do you feel after doing that for 60 years?
- Like I'm talking to a wall.

mCat said...

DUTA!! I am so glad that I backtracked my latest commenter to HER site! I love this post. I've already expressed my love for my Jewish brothers and sisters and the Western Wailing wall in particular, and I hope that you feel that. I loved seeing your pictures because they took me back to my time there recently. I love your country and all the rich history and my own personal experiences feeling the Spirit of God. Lovely blog!

DUTA said...

Thanks for your kind words.
Judging by your wonderful account of your 'one in a lifetime trip', and now by your comment on my site - you are a person of great capacity for Love. I'm impressed.

Jenn Jilks said...

Your sunny photos look heart warming!

DUTA said...

Thank you. Fortunately, on the day of my visit to the Wall, the sky were indeed clear and sunny.

shayndel said...

Back to visit and wish you a Happy Birthday!!! And Happy Birthday to Jenn too!! Many happy returns of the Day!!♡

DUTA said...

Thanks, Shayndel. Happy Birthday to you, too!
I'll convey your message of Happy Birthday wish to Jenn too.