The Kotel (The Western Wall)



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So what's so special about the Kotel - the Western Wall? People have a lot of misconceptions about the Kotel. First of all, it's the western wall of the Temple Mount, where both of our temples were built over two millenia ago.

Temple Mount

Here are some of those misconceptions:

(1) The Western Wall is prayed at because no other walls are standing - False. All four walls are actually standing. So why do we specially pray at the Western Wall? The answer is tradition: for long periods of time, this was the only side of the Temple Mount we had access to. Even today, the other walls (except for the South Wall, which was recently excavated) are very dangerous, because they are in Arab areas that are hostile to Jews.

(2) The Western Wall that we pray at is the entire western wall - False. The wall continues in both directions - the traditional "Western Wall" site is only a small portion of the actual western wall. But again, this was the only section of it we had access to.

(3) The Western Wall is the holiest of the walls - While this might be true in some fashion I don't understand, we have no sources for this.

(4) The Western Wall is a wall of the destroyed Temple - False. The four walls of the Temple Mount are not our temple's walls - they are the walls that surrounded them, the outer walls that seperated the temple itself from the rest of Jerusalem.

(5) When you pray at the Western Wall, you directly face the location of the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept in the First Temple - False. As said above, the traditional "Western Wall" that is photographed here is only a small southern portion of the whole western wall, and in fact, does not face the Holy of Holies, which was further north on the Temple Mount. So when you're praying at the Western Wall, it is actually better to pray not straight forward but facing slightly left.




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