July 18th, 2015| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


That’s me, praying at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Western Wall is the small portion of the retaining walls of the Temple Mount, where the Jewish Temple stood till it was destroyed in the sack of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E.

After an extensive expansion of the plateau of the Temple Mount in the first century, conducted by Herod the Great, the guy who killed babies at the birth of Jesus (reigned 37–4 B.C.E.), this obsessive builder of edifices created retaining walls to hold everything together. The western portions of these retaining walls are supposed to have been closest to the former Temple, making it—at least currently—the holiest site of Judaism.

(In earlier days, it used to be called the Wailing Wall, from the Jewish practice of coming to the site to mourn the loss of the Temple.)

Here, the total height of the wall is about 100 feet, 40 feet of which is below ground level, covered over by millennia of debris. (An underground “Tunnel Tour” provides a fascinating glimpse of the subterranean structure of the Wall.)

The custom of praying at the Wall apparently originated in the 16th century C.E., with Suleiman the Magnificent granting rights to Jewish people to do so. In times of public calamity, even Torah scrolls were brought to the Wall to be read from. In Midrashic teaching, God’s presence has never moved away from the site of the Temple, even from its only remnant, the Western Wall. And in Kabbalistic tradition, all prayers ascend to heaven from this holy site. Oh, also, praying consecutively at the Wall for forty days will supposedly find you a mate. (I prayed only for four minutes—and not for a spouse!)

There is also the practice of placing written prayers in the crevices of the Wall—a million of them are placed there every year, even by visiting dignitaries, including popes, the US President, and others. In all kinds of languages and formats and lengths and on all kinds of papers, even gum wrappers. In fact, there are a number of online services that will take your prayers by email, fax, or text, and print them out and insert them in the Wall.

The notes are collected twice a year and buried on the Mount of Olives. Halakhic law prohibits one from reading another’s prayer note. But the note inserted in 2008 by then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama was removed and sold to a newspaper by an enterprising Jewish seminary student.

In any case, our God is a prayer-hearing God.

O You who hear prayer, To You all men come.
Psalm 65:2

But not necessarily prayers made from one particular place. Jesus, himself, prayed in the wilderness, and on mountains.

But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.
Luke 5:16

It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray,
and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.

Luke 6:12

God is omnipresent and his ears are big!

Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O LORD, You know it all.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
Psalm 139:4, 7

Rather than place or pattern or paper, what’s important is praying through one particular Person.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life;
no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
John 14:6

So …

… pray without ceasing …
1 Thessalonians 5:17

… anywhere and everywhere!

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