WHY DO WE PUT NOTES IN THE WESTERN WALL(KOTEL)

 

 

The source for burying notes among the stones of the Western Wall

 

BURYING NOTES AMONG THE STONES OF THE WESTERN WALL JERUSALEM

 

 

INTRODUCTION TO THE WESTERN WALL TRADITIONS

 

 

It seems that no one does not bury requests among the stones of the Western Wall when he visits the holy site, which attracts millions of people every year. The custom is so common that many times the first request heard from groups visiting the Western Wall is "to have time to bury a note."

When did the custom become so common? Why do we tend to flatten personal requests by writing them on a note and inserting them between the stones of the Western Wall? Does the custom of burying notes that have become so prevalent symbolize the end of the golden age of institutionalized prayers and constitute a new beginning and beyond personal prayer, or is it an additional tier than the existing one in terms of renewal and refreshment?

In this short article, I will review a variety of opinions and present different sources to try to trace the roots of the custom and ... "on the road" I will present some interesting and lesser-known facts.

 

THE PREVAILING OPINION - THE PERIOD OF SECULARIZATION AND EDUCATION

 

 

Like many, for many years I believed that the origin of the custom was at the end of the period of 'secularization' and education that began to spread throughout the Jewish world during the last centuries. A large public began to move away from the classical tradition and did not always know firsthand the wording of the prayer that is passed down from generation to generation. According to this assumption, the younger generation felt uncomfortable flattening their request in prayer in public - perhaps even if the prayer was common in their mouths. Thus was born the written request that expresses the feelings of the heart without the need for an awkward standing in front of the "Creator."

 

 

THE ORIGIN OF THE WESTERN WALL CUSTOM

 

 

At the beginning of my research, I turned to Rabbi Zalman Koren, who is considered one of the great experts in everything related to the Temple Mount. According to him, there is no explicit classical Jewish source that indicates the custom of burying the notes on the Western Wall. He emphasized to me that many religious Jews do not bury their requests among the stones of the Western Wall for one reason or another. These - make sure to flatten their oral prayers in front of their voices.

 

According to him, it is possible, and even plausible, that the custom of burying notes began in the early days of storks. Days when the Chassidim used to give the rebbe notes (kvitlech) with the names of their relatives so that he would bless them during prayer.
With the death of the Rebbe, a large void was created among the Hasidim and then some of them began to place the "Kvitelech" on the Rebbe's grave. This custom spread among many of the Hasidic communities and even reached the point where a cell with an opening for the introduction of "Kvitlech" was built on the grave of the founder of the Yeshiva of the Sages of Lublin, who was one of the greatest "opponents" of Hasidism. According to this belief, the custom began to spread in Old Jerusalem with the immigration of the first Hasidim to the city.

 

Standing in front of the Western Wall, the remnant of the Temple, the Hasidim felt that its slits were ready for "Kvitlech". Thus was born the custom of burying a note in the Western Wall. The custom began to spread and was adopted by those whose ancestral tradition was no longer in their hands during the secularization period and who preferred written and informal prayer. In this way, the custom spread throughout the Jewish world.

 

In our case, the verse quoted above is important. It turns out that blowing a peg between the stones of the Western Wall was known as a virtue for the peace of the broadcasters who go out on their mission.

 

Many do not know, but in the tier of stones above the heads of worshipers in the Western Wall plaza, you can find dozens of names engraved in stone - evidence of the custom described above. There are many similarities between the custom of engraving the name on the Western Wall stones in recent centuries and the custom of burying notes. The engraving of the name expresses an explicit or virtuous prayer for success and the note, also includes a request that is not explicitly stated. The peg, too, similar to the engraving of the name, expresses a prayer as stated in the verses: "And give us a peg in its holy place" (Ezra 9: 8), "and put a peg in a faithful place" (Isaiah 22:23). The source for the engraving of the names on the courses of the Western Wall may be the verse: (Isaiah, chapter five, five) - the same verse that inspires the commemoration of the Holocaust at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

 

By the way, I note that it is not at all clear that there is a permit to engrave inscriptions on the stones of the Western Wall, since, according to some scholars and scholars, the Western Wall itself is part of the sacred area of ​​the Temple Mount and its defects are forbidden. For this reason, many used to be careful not to bury notes between the stones of the Western Wall and even, not to touch the sacred stones with their hands.

 

THE STORY OF THE ACT IN THE NAME OF THE HOLY LIGHT OF LIFE

 

Following my search for the source of the custom, I turned to the Book of Remembrance for the late Rabbi Getz, who served as Rabbi of the Western Wall until he died in 2005. His book tells the story of a Jew who came before the holy light of life and shed his fate in tears before his face: his wife is lying on her deathbed. According to the description, the light of life handed him a note and said, "Go out immediately to the Western Wall, place the note between the stones and you will receive complete healing." What happened (the note was lost) and the note was not inserted between the stones as the commandment of the light of life. Said the Holy Light of Life: "You had a wonderful virtue in your hand and you lost it with your own hands." Assuming that there is a reference to the above source, it was already customary to bury notes in the Western Wall about 260 years ago.

 

The book quotes Rabbi Getz as saying about the custom: However, Rabbi Getz notes that the basis for the Hasidic custom is very ancient and is already stated in the words of the Ramban, one of the first in his commentary on the commander of the children of Israel after the Exodus from Egypt:

 

"And because he who comes before the father of all the prophets and his brother - the Holy One of God, and he is known to them by his name - he will have a right and life in this matter because he came in the secret of the people and the writing of the children of Israel "Have mercy on them - God, the God of your fathers, Joseph will be with you like you a thousand times and will not diminish your number and the shekels will atone for your souls."
According to this interpretation, the fact that the children of Israel were numbered in the wilderness through notes on which their names and the names of their ancestors were inscribed indicates that in this way they were blessed, for, Moses and Aaron petitioned before them before God.

 

 

THE WESTERN WALL NOTES IN THE MODERN AGE

 

 

THE WESTERN WALL NOTES IN JERUSALEM

 

 

 

The custom of burying notes is intriguing to many visitors to the Western Wall and raises quite a few questions. The most common question is how there may be room left for burying hundreds of thousands of new notes even though the Western Wall is already "full."

The answer to this, of course, lies in the fact that there is an initiated evacuation of the notes on the eve of Passover and at other times. In addition to the initiated evacuation, there is a natural "dropout" of notes by the wind. These are collected in special containers and brought for burial at a designated site to honor what is written in them.

An intriguing interest, no less, is sending an online note through the Western Wall website. The notes are printed each morning in a concentrated manner and buried in the Western Wall. To maintain the privacy of the individual, the printout is obtained in a tiny and illegible font and is thus buried between the stones of the Western Wall.
"And what happens if there are spelling errors in the printed requests," one of the children once asked me, and I answered him "God knows how to understand the request even when there are mistakes and ... also read a font in size 4."

 

WESTERN WALL NOTES TODAY'S CONCLUSION

 

The custom of burying the notes on the Western Wall is not necessarily the end of a period that has passed from the world. It can be seen as a renewal of the ancient prayer custom and its making available even to those who do not have prayer in their mouths.

 

VISIT THE WESTERN WALL IN JERUSALEM TODAY AND PLACE YOUR NOTES IN GOD'S HANDS