Visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem with a Private Tour Guide
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE FAMOUS WESTERN WALL IN JERUSALEM
In this article, you will find all the information about the history of the Western Wall.
In 70 AD, Titus the Roman king destroyed the Second Temple. The Western Wall, Was part of the western retaining wall that surrounded the Temple Mount plaza erected by King Herod. After the great destruction, the Western Wall became the only and closest relic of the Holy of Holies, a memorial to the existence of the glorious Temple. Since then, its spiritual and physical importance has placed the Western Wall at the heart of the Jewish people to this day. At the same time, the research, the legends, and of course the prayers around the Western Wall never end. A visit to the Western Wall is a must for every visitor to Jerusalem, prepare a note with a wish, and come to the most unique place in Jerusalem.
JERUSALEM WESTERN WALL DESCRIPTION
At the end of the first century BCE, King Herod began building the Second Temple. Architecturally, the temple is considered the pinnacle of splendor and beauty, as only Herod knew how to build it, and it is said: "who has not seen the temple of Herod has not seen a beautiful structure in his life." First, the Temple Mount plaza was bordered by four huge retaining walls and the interior of the compound was filled with dirt and building debris collected around the area. In the center of the extension stood the glorious Temple. The Western Wall, as we know it today, stretches to a length of 66 meters and its original height reaches up to 30 meters (most of it is underground and this part can be seen in the Western Wall Tunnels tour). The total length of the western retaining wall is 458 meters, the longest of them all. It begins in the southwest corner of the Temple Mount, where the Davidson Center Archaeological Park is today and reaches the northwest corner of the Muslim Quarter. From the area of the prayer plaza and to the north, the Western Wall passes through what is today known as the Western Wall tunnels - tunnels that stretch below and along with the remains of the Western Wall, below the Muslim Quarter.
BACK TO THE PAST - TO SEE THE WESTERN WALL AS THE DAY OF DESTRUCTION
During the Second Temple period, Robinson's Arch was lowered from the southwest corner of the Western Wall. The arch was part of what is still considered the first intersection in the world and a staircase was built on top of it, which was used by the pilgrims to the Temple Mount. Under the arch, next to the western wall, the street, and daily life took place. So how exactly do you see the same arch? Well, the arch did not survive but part of it can be seen right after entering the Dung Gate. A few meters after passing the security checkpoint, stop and look to the right towards the Davidson Center Archaeological Park. Just below the upper end, in the southwest corner of the Western Wall, you will notice the upper part of the arch. A better option is to visit the Davidson Center (for a fee) and be exposed to the remains of the destruction, just as if the Romans had left Jerusalem a few days ago. Also, you will see a reconstruction of the arch, the place where the shofar was blown on the Western Wall, and learn about how those huge and heavy stones were lifted - the visit to the garden is fascinating and instructive.
Over time, in the years following the destruction, the Jews were expelled from Jerusalem. During the period when the Land of Israel was under Byzantine rule, the Temple Mount was neglected and turned into a garbage area. With the Muslim conquest in the 7th century AD, the Temple Mount complex was exposed, the Dome of the Rock was built and later the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Western Wall were far out of reach of the Jews. Even during the re-settlement of the Jewish Quarter in the 13th century by the Ramban, there is little evidence that the Western Wall was a place of worship. Many who visit the Western Wall and the descriptions indicate that the only remnant of the Temple compound (the Western Wall) has become a recognized, sacred, and symbolic place of worship for the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora those who make pilgrimages to it.
Despite the freedom of access to the Western Wall compound, worshipers were sometimes forced to bribe the residents of the Mughrabi neighborhood that sat next to the wall. When standing in front of the Western Wall, you can see just above the women's section on the right ramp through which you ascend to the Temple Mount plaza. This is the Mughrabi ascent, and today it is the only way Jews can enter and visit the Temple Mount since the entrance is only allowed to Muslims. For those interested in a private guided tour to the Old City of Jerusalem, it is advisable to start with a visit to the Temple Mount (early in the morning), then head out towards the Western Wall plaza and go on a tour to see the others sites of Jerusalem old city. as your private tour guide, I will make sure to make it right.
The Western Wall story goes on, Prohibitions on placing chairs, benches, partitions, and even blowing the shofar made it very difficult for Jewish worshipers, and even in 1842, the Western Wall plaza has declared a Waqf (Muslim sanctuary). This tension between the religions was the basis for violent events that befell the settlement, almost a century later. In 1929, riots broke out in the wake of a complaint by Mughrabi residents about a partition set up in the Western Wall plaza on Yom Kippur. A group of young Jews was organized, which was called the "Western Wall Company." From that day on, Jews could no longer pray and touch the Western Wall until the liberation of Jerusalem in 1967, by the IDF.
As of this year, the Western Wall plaza has been prepared for the absorption of worshipers. The Mughrabi neighborhood was evacuated and archeological excavations revealed the existence of the upper city from the Second Temple period in the days before the destruction. From (1967) until today, the prayer plaza has been staffed with worshipers around the clock. Apart from prayers on Saturdays, holidays, and festivals, the Western Wall plaza is used today for ceremonies such as swearing-in soldiers, and every Monday and Thursday Bar Mitzvah grooms usually go up and enter the Western Wall with drums and dances.
THE SON OF THE WESTERN WALL - THE LITTLE WESTERN WALL
Contrary to what we know today as the prayer plaza, the first worshipers buried their notes in the Western Wall, which is 30 meters long and the width of the plaza where they stood did not exceed 4 meters. South of the Western Wall plaza today, within the Muslim Quarter, is the small Western Wall that is not only a prayer area but also a reminder of the density of the Central Wall plaza before the Six-Day War. To the small Western Wall, turn from the Western Wall plaza to Hagai Street and then turn right onto Sha'ar HaBarzel Street. A few meters before the gate, turn left and you are at the Little Wall.
WHAT IS IT BEST TIME TO VISIT THE WESTERN WALL?
Throughout the year several dates and days must, at least once in a lifetime, be present at the Western Wall, Thousands of worshipers gather together in front of the holy wall: greeting, crying, wishing, expecting, dancing - it all depends on the event.
1. On the 9th of Av, the day of the destruction of the first and second temples - thousands of worshipers visit the plaza. Tisha B'Av is a day of fasting in Judaism and on the eve of fasting it is customary to carry lamentations and read the holy Books of Lamentations. It is even customary to sit on the extension floor and not on a chair as is customary on days of mourning.
2.10 Tishrei, the eve of Yom Kippur - a day of forgiveness and atonement in which the Holy One, Blessed be He, is forgiven us for our iniquity Vows are made and during Yom Kippur special prayers are said, including "all vows". At the end of the holiday, a shofar is blown, which symbolizes the locking of the gates of heaven and gives the signal that one can eat.
3. The month of Elul, the month of Slichot - by being the last month in the Hebrew year. The month of Elul is dedicated to saying sorry and making a mental calculation between a person and himself, a person, and his friend, and between a person and God. The saying of forgiveness continues every month of Elul. A visit to the Western Wall on one of the evenings of the holiday is a special and emotional experience, but throughout the month the atmosphere is felt throughout the Jewish Quarter, but between the alleys of Nachlaot Jerusalem west of the Old City.
4.Birkat HaKohanim, the week of Sukkot 15-21 on Tishrei - the holiday of Sukkot is one of the three customs (Pesach, Shavuot Sukkot). Except for the common purpose of all these holidays which is to remind us of the Exodus, the acceptance of the Torah, and the temporary sitting in the Sukkah, each holiday has an additional purpose. Sukkot is a holiday for all the people and the mitzvah in it to rejoice. Moreover, the commandment of the four species on which they are blessed expresses all the strata of the people. According to the Torah, the priests were commanded on this day to bless the whole people of Israel. Today, thousands of priests gather on the day of Sukkot and the blessing of the priests is heard throughout Jerusalem.
On the 28th of Iyar, Jerusalem Day - a day to mark the liberation and unification of Jerusalem.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A VISIT TO THE WESTERN WALL?
The Western Wall is a sacred place, the visitors are subject to several rules:
1. Arrive in modest and appropriate wear that respects the place.
2. Women may be required to wear additional covers when visiting the Western Wall plaza.
3. The entrance to the Western Wall complex is subject to a security check. Do not bring sharp objects that could be used as weapons.
4. On Saturdays and holidays - it is forbidden to take photos, smoke, or talk on the cell phone.
5. Pets are not allowed.
6. Entrance to the Western Wall with musical instruments. Bar Mitzvah celebrants will accompany up to the entrance gate.
7. Smoking or lighting candles near the Western Wall is forbidden.
LEGENDS AND STORIES ABOUT THE WESTERN WALL
When God commanded Solomon to build him a permanent home, which is the first temple, he stated that all the people should take part in the construction and so it was. The rich of the city built the eastern wall, the men and the wealthy built the northern and southern walls while the poor won the construction of the western wall. While the three walls built by the wealthy were soon completed with the help of hired laborers, the Western Wall was built slowly as the poor had to carry with their own hands the stones hewn from Zedekiah's cave north of the Temple Mount. When God came down to establish His presence in the Temple he set his eye on the poor wall and declared, "This wall will never be destroyed." This is how the Shechinah rested among the stones of the Western Wall that have survived to this day.
THE DECISION OF THE ROMAN EMPEROR
It is no coincidence that the Western Wall survived the destruction inflicted on it by Vespasian, the Roman emperor. At the end of the fighting and the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, Titus' warriors wondered why his father ordered not to destroy the Western Wall. Vespasian answered that if he had not left the Western Wall standing who would have believed him regarding the great deed and the victory over the Jews.
LEGEND OF SULTAN SULIMAN
In 1517 the Ottoman rule in the country began. The residence of the Turkish Sultan at that time was adjacent to the Chain Gate located in the western part of the Temple Mount. One day the sultan realized out of the corner of his eye an old 90-year-old was throwing her household rubbish near his house. The ruler was furious and summoned the old woman for questioning. The Sultan asked where the impudence for such an act came from. The old woman replied that even in the days of Roman rule, in the days after the destruction, the emperor ordered the foreign inhabitants of Jerusalem to pour out the garbage of their house in this place. Those who live close by will do so once a day, farther away once every two days, and the rest once a month. why? The sultan wondered and asked the old woman. And she answered him because the place was the house of the God of Israel. Upon hearing this, the Sultan hid gold coins in the garbage mountains that surrounded the walls of the Temple Mount, the inhabitants of the city came in droves and searched for the gold coins, having no choice but to clear the garbage to find the coins and so the place became clean and tidy.
The Western Wall is the most important site in the world for the Jewish people. Thousands of people arrive at the wall every year to visit and participate in the prayers, the wishes are placed in the cracks of the wall. It is one of the most important highlights of any guided tour of the Old City of Jerusalem.
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