The Western wall has been the center of Jewish spiritual life and yearning for more than 2000 years. It is thought be the only remaining fragment of the Second Temple which was destroyed by the Romans.
Originally, this portion was part of the retaining wall of the Temple Mount where once the Temple stood built by glorious and wise king Solomon. Later it was destroyed by the mighty Babylonians in 586 BC then rebuilt on the smaller scale in 515 BC.
During the reign of King Herod (historically referred to as The Great) from 37 BC to 4, the Temple was reconstructed, expanded and the plaza was enlarged. This ambitious construction project began in 20 BC and was completed 46 years later. The entire area including the Temple was razed to the ground by the Roman army in 70 AD.
Abraham, the patriarch and a future father of many nations came here to the land of Moriah (Gen.22:2) to sacrifice his son, Isaac.
The prophet Isaiah exclaims:
"Even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people" (Isaiah 56:7).
This is the universal place where all the nations were supposed to come and worship the Creator of the Universe and of all mankind.
The first to lay the foundation for the inclusion of all people was King Solomon while praying in the Temple:
"As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of Your name — for men will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm—when he comes and prays toward this Temple, then hear from heaven, Your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of You, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears Your Name" (1 Kings 8:41-43).
Even after the Temple was destroyed, the holiness of the place is such that it remains sacred for the Jewish people and for all humanity. Today, people from all over the world visit the Western Wall, to see, feel and pray, to wedge notes containing prayers within its walls.
Only 55m (180 ft) of the Wall is available for prayers. The whole length of the Wall is around 488m (1600ft). Another 80m stretches to the right and is part of Davidson Archaeological park which holds famous Temple remains and artifacts.
Some 320m (1000ft) to the left is part of recently discovered Western Wall tunnels where Herod's genuine masonry stones are revealed which were laid as the foundation of the Wall.
One of such stones is called the Western Stone which is part of the Nidbach Raba (The Great Course). This stone’s dimensions are 13.6m (45ft) long with an estimated width of 3.5 to 4.5m (11 to 15ft). The weight is conservatively placed at a stunning 570 tons. How a stone of this size and weight was put into place without aid of powered machinery is a mystery!
All are equal at the presence of the Wall. When we touch its stones, we are linked with the Divine history and the history of the mankind as it has been recorded in the Bible.
For generations it has silently absorbed the prayers of those near and far. This is the most visited site in the Land of Israel.
Though... one of my American friends upon visiting the site had been asked about his feelings, he answered: "Well, it felt like talking to a wall..."
And do not forget the Jerusalem's psychiatrists description of certain symptoms: "When you talk to God it's called a prayer, but when God talks to you it might be a sign of a malady... " (Jewish humor)