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Archive for the ‘Western Wall’ Category

I had an operation on my wrist last week, and find that the restricted movement that has been imposed upon me for the next 10 days means I’m looking for things I can do without causing too much pain. I decided video editing was a safe thing to do – use one hand, point and click. Okay there have been a few moments when I’ve forgotten and tried to hold a button down, but the sharp pain up my arm reminds me it’s not the thing to do! Anyway, I’ve put together a short video of my trip to Israel and include it here to give you a flavour not only of the trip, but also of the sights and sounds of land.

 

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After our solo visit to the Western Wall the evening before, we returned with the group on the morning of our second day.   This time, instead of entering by the Damascus Gate and walking through the Muslim Quarter, we entered by the Dung Gate, and before passing through the security check, we stopped to view the Temple area, because there is much more than just the wall to see, and for me, much of what I saw was familiar.  Why?   Because hanging on the wall in front of my desk at home is a drawing of the Temple Mount and the surrounding city, as it would have been on the eve of the destruction 70 AD, (marked out with archaeological finds).  And suddenly I could visualise it as more than ruins and remnants of buildings.     

Western Wall

Western Wall

The Western Wall is known as the most holy site in the Jewish faith, its significance lies in the fact that it is the last remnant of the original retaining wall which surrounded the Second Temple, which was built over 2,000 years ago; the Temple which Jesus would have entered to worship and teach, and to confront those who had turned his Father’s house into a den of thieves.   After the temple was destroyed in 70 AD, the Jews were exiled from the city, and it became a place of pilgrimage where they would return to lament their loss (it was known as the Wailing Wall for that reason, though many Jews today would take offence at that description).

Men and Women and Children - apart yet together

Men and Women and Children - apart yet together

The Western Wall is essentially an open-air synagogue, with divided sections for men and women to pray independently.   For a while, I stood in the women’s section alongside another Christian just watching the women whisper their prayers, seemingly into the cracks of the wall, while others would stand and place their hands, cheeks and foreheads up against the stone.  Some sat and read, and others as they prepared to go, slipped a piece of folded paper containing a written prayer, into the cracks between the enormous stones.  It was a busy area, people came and went, children moved about going from mother to grandmother, some spoke to family members on the other side of the dividing fence, others took photos, and yet, this was a place that invited prayer, irrespective of whether you were Jew or Christian.  And so, I stood before the wall, let everything recede, and took time to pray.  A few intimate moments with God, that left me feeling at peace.   Quite simply it was a place that inspired awe, drew you back through the centuries and made you aware of the importance of prayer.     

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An evening trip into the Old City, to visit the Western Wall, caught me off guard.   When we (two of us) got to the security gate, we were told we could not enter; we would have to wait for 5 minutes.  Uncertain as to why, we nevertheless waited. 

Western Wall at Night

Western Wall at Night

On gaining entry we made our way to the square, where there were thousands of people milling around.  People of all ages and of various Jewish backgrounds were there with their teenage children who were fully kitted out in Israeli Army Uniform, carrying their Israeli issue guns.   The occasion?   They were gathered in the square before the Western Wall to take their oath of allegiance as they joined the army.   And suddenly I was transported back two millennia to the time of the Passover, when the Jewish people would have gathered in their thousands; to come to the Temple to worship, and milling around would have been Roman soldiers, with the Roman issue weapons.   And I knew how those ancient Jewish people felt; the unnerving feeling of seeing someone with a weapon, wondering if anything or anyone would cause an incident that would mean this multitude of people would change from a crowd to a mob.  Wondering if someone with this new authority would abuse the power they had been given.   Wondering if you looked at someone the wrong way, you would end up with some kind of confrontation.   All in all, I would not have missed the experience.

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