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Why Pray at the Western Wall?

Why Pray at the Western Wall?



Why do Jews pray at the Western Wall (or Wailing Wall) in Jerusalem? It seems redundant and out of place praying facing a wall, when one can pray in a synagogue or at home or anywhere, and G‑d will listen to their prayers. Is G‑d more prone to listen and answer prayers recited at the Western Wall than at other locations?


I think what you’re really asking is: If G‑d is everywhere, why should prayer be more effective in one place than another? In truth, the same can be asked regarding praying in a synagogue vs. praying at home.

The question has been asked many times before in classical Jewish literature. Since this is a Chabad site, I’ll provide the answer given by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745–1812), the first rebbe of Chabad.

The essence of his answer is that although G‑d is everywhere, His light shines stronger in some places than in others. He compares this to the human body: You are everywhere in your body, yet you are far more conscious of your mind than of your toes. So too, in the universe that G‑d created, there are places, times and states of being where we are able to be more aware of Him—and it is from those places/times/states that our prayers can fly best.

Any person is able to create for himself a time of day and a special place from which he or she reaches out to G‑d. And we all should—somewhere in our homes or gardens, set aside a place of prayer and meditation, along with a time of day or week that we sit there and connect. Even more special is a place that was chosen not just by us, but by G‑d as well. And that is the Temple Mount, which G‑d chose as His dwelling place in the time of King David.

Ever since then, that specialness has never left the Western Wall, the only remnant left standing.

The Talmud tells us that every synagogue is a “minor Holy Temple.” Thus the above also applies—in smaller measure—to any location designated to be a house of worship for G‑d.

Refer to the following links for more information on these topics:

The Western Wall

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman for

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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Discussion (31)
May 18, 2016
Why pray at wall?
Sure, pray at the Wall, while the Muslims on Temple Mount laugh and throw rocks at you. Are you afraid to pray on the Mount, because "you might be standing on Holy ground?" Better, a Muslim urinates on G-d's Holy Place. If Jews had any self respect, they would march in mass to Temple Mount, throw the Muslims off, and re-sanctify the site. Make whatever excuses your Rabbis can come up with, give away the Land, and keep praying at the Wall of sorrow.
Dr. Harry
January 29, 2016
Rabbi, I'm kept away from the Torah and from praying aloud.
The Torah carried way in the middle of the men's side.

Some women need a service at some appropriate time of day--maybe at 11 am--when we can touch the Torah before & after it is read. If a male minyan is required for a Torah service, then let there be men there too, but let the Torah be available to women. Let the women pray aloud--the men can wear ear plugs if the women's voices turn them on. How can I worship if I cannot pray aloud as has been customary at my synagogue of origin all my life? I am older than you--I remember when this business about a woman's voice was not an issue. All the women prayed aloud; nobody noticed. We were kept out of Hebrew school in those days, but singing the melody helped us learn & remember the words.
I am sincerely interested in the "beautiful things" & "miracles" you say are "happening there". What should I look for or listen for if Gd lets me go to Israel again?

HERE, the Torah is carried on both sides of the mehitsah. Both men & women touch it.
January 27, 2016
The "Oneness" is everywhere!
Lucky are those who experience closely the effect of G-d’s presence at the Kotel. I had the privilege to be one of those many years ago. But, I must say that I have felt the same way in many other places when communicating with G-d. I know this is the place where G-d meant for us to pray to Him but I’m sure He realizes that it is not possible for lots of people all over the world. He is everywhere and acknowledges that we are well worthy of his attention no matter where we are.
Boca Raton FL
January 26, 2016
For Esther
I'm puzzled at your statement that you were "kept away" from the Kotel. There is a large section for women. Many beautiful things are happening there—some that will never happen on the men's side. There are some very holy women, and women have told me that the oneness they feel there is unmatched anywhere in the world.

Men and women have prayed separately since the earliest of times. It was this way by Isaac and Rebecca, it was this way in King Solomon's Temple, and it is this way because that is how prayer works. It has nothing to do with making a spectacle of yourself. The energies of men and women are entirely different, their prayer is different, and they each need their space to do it in.

The space is there. Go visit the women's side of the Wall. Join in the miracles happening there.
Tzvi Freeman
January 22, 2016
Levi Bookin & other frum men who want to keep women away from the kotel
Why is it that a woman cannot pray at the kotel without making what you call "an exhibition" of herself?

I wanted to pray at the kotel, but the site was monopolized by men, and I feared making "an exhibition" of myself and so I was effectively prevented from praying at the kotel and from touching the Torah. If it were a synagogue, I could go to another synagogue, but the kotel is uniquely sacred and it is simply wrong for men to be permitted to excluded from this most sacred spot.

There should be special times of day for a mixed congregation (say a mincha service in the early afternoon) when women can go to the most sacred part of the kotel and pray there and touch the Torah. That way those few men who feel a need to hog the kotel to themselves could still pray comfortably three times/day, but the millions of women who need to experience this special closeness to HaMakom, but who fear making "an exhibition" of ourselves, would no longer be excluded from this unique place.
January 22, 2016
Special experience!
However, I still believe any other place you pray G-d is there to listen!
Boca Raton
January 21, 2016
Praying at the Kotel
Having prayed at the Kotel, I can tell you it is a special prayer experience. For me I felt such a close presence with Hashem that made me weep. I look forward to the day I can return to Jerusalem.
Stewart Kelly
June 26, 2015
Re: Please pray for my husband
Joanne, provide us his Hebrew name and mother's Hebrew name.

And if you can't visit the Western Wall to pray, visit the Rebbe's gravesite in Queens.
Tzvi Freeman
June 25, 2015
please pray for my husband
diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I know and need and want him to be with me longer
Joanne groshardt
September 22, 2014
What makes the Temple Mount "special" ...chosen by God?
We allow Muslims to own the area. Was this God's plan?

All the prayer notes written and taken away...
Does not God know what is written before it is written? Do we really expect by
placing our prayers in small holes that God will be better able to read them?
Is is closer to the Aron Kodesh?
Allan Koven