Answers to Questions by Yair Davidiy
What is the Western Wall (or 'Wailing Wall') in Jerusalem, and why is it important?
The Western Wall is in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is situated to the west of the present-day Jewish Quarter and borders on the Muslim Quarter.
The Western Wall is a remnant of the Ancient Temple, i.e. of the Second Temple that the Romans destroyed.
The portion that tourists usually see and know as the Western Wall is actually only a part of it. More is to be found a little to the north in the Muslim Quarter and still more is covered over with Arab buildings that have been built onto it.
What we call the Temple was actually a building complex.
It consisted of a large area known as the Temple Mount which was encompassed by a wall.
Within the Temple Mount was a smaller portion considered the Temple proper. This consisted of an Inner Courtyard and an Outer Courtyard with a wall around them and a wall inside dividing them.
Within the Inner Courtyard was a large open-air Altar on which animal and other sacrifices were offered up. Just besides the Altar was a building. This was partitioned into an Inner Sanctuary (Holy of Holies) and an outer one.
The Western Wall is what remains of the wall that surrounded the courtyard.
There is a tradition that the Divine Presence never left the Western Wall (Midrash Shemot Rabah 2:2).
Jews throughout the centuries have come to this site to pray and mourn for the Temple.
At present prayer sessions, Torah learning, and the recital of Psalms take place at the Western Wall 24 hours a day.
The Western Wall as it is known to tourists consists of an open plaza adjoined by a tunnel.
Within the tunnel may be seen additional tunnels and excavations showing the full depth of the Wall and remains from 2nd Temple times.
The plaza is divided into a mens section and a womens section.
Millions of Jews, from Israel and from overseas, visit the Wall annually. Very many non-Jews also come both to see it and to pray there.
On Festival days as many as 8,000 assemble for the Morning Prayers and to hear the Priestly Blessing as in Biblical Times.
Many have religious experiences at the Wall. They feel as if God has heard them. People feel this constantly.
This is the Bible. This is what we have.
When the Jordanians ruled this area it was in ruins and Jews were denied access to it.