The Holiness of the Western Wall


[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Bechukotai 5774 – translated by R. Blumberg]

 

1. When we speak of the “Kotel”, the Western Wall, we must speak with great reverence.  We must follow the example of Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskin, who never dared to approach it at all, or of Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook, who prayed there only on special, sacred occasions, at which time he would tremble with reverence, and he would keep on trembling for about two hours after he returned home.

2. All the more so that we don't insult the Western Wall by saying that it is less holy than the Temple Mount. The Kotel, today, is like the Temple was in its time. Presently, the Western Wall is our Temple.

3. The Kotel, besides constituting the retaining wall of the Temple Mount, was also  sanctified through Israel's prayers, self-sacrifice and pristine longing, such that it constitutes the holiest synagogue of the Jewish people.

4. When our Sages said that "the Divine Presence has never left the Western Wall," they were not talking about the wall of the Temple, but about the Kotel, as the Sages of Israel have proven. A strident debate over historical/national issues need not spill over into matters of Jewish law and faith. Rather, it should remain humbly in its place. Otherwise, even the Kotel’s special value will be lost.

5. The Temple Mount was never a place of prayer or a place of various religious ceremonies, and it was forbidden to go there for any other purpose than the Temple worship or building the temple. Maran Ha-Rav Kook saw with his prophetic spirit, as is mentioned in Shut Malki Bakodesh, a great vision of a single synagogue shared by the entire Nation, near the Temple Mount at the Western Wall.

6. Laws regarding the Temple Mount are not within the domain of the rulings of Rabbi X or Rabbi Y, but rather, they belong to the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, serving the entire Jewish People.  Moreover, the decision that one should not enter the Temple Mount is not just anybody’s opinion, open to rejection. Rather, it is a final decision of whichever Judge “will be in those times” (Vayikra 17:9).

7. The site of the Temple Mount and of the Temple is not a matter of national conquest, that we need to maintain a presence or a settlement there, the way all other parts of the Land of Israel are.  Rather, as its name clearly states, it is the place and the mountain of the Temple. Its entire essence is the supreme holiness of G-d letting His Divine Presence rest upon us.
8. The Western Wall is the lobby and the Temple is the banquet hall, and there is no way to reach the banquet hall but through the lobby. Millions of lights from the banquet hall shed their light upon it.