Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Printed from chabad.org
All Departments
Jewish Holidays
TheRebbe.org
Jewish.TV - Video
Jewish Audio
News
Kabbalah Online
JewishWoman.org
Kids Zone

Why Pray at the Western Wall?

Why Pray at the Western Wall?

E-mail

Question:

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?

Answer:

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
Synagogues

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman for Chabad.org

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, 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.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
E-mail
1000 characters remaining
Email me when new comments are posted.
Sort By:
Discussion (20)
August 4, 2014
No distinction...
Praying is done everywhere and anywhere even in a basement where one would think that G-d wouldn't see them, and it is the same for men or for women and children. It is the prerogative of every human being. It is not for anyone to say who can pray and where. G-d is everywhere and can see what's in your heart no matter where you are or who you are
Feigele
Boca Raton FL
August 4, 2014
Question
If you will not pray at the wall, why pray at all?
boB
NYC
July 21, 2013
Women at the Wall
It was not the case that "a small minority of men choose to be offended" but that a large majority of women expressed their distaste at the behavior of a small minority of women who like to make an exhibition of themselves.
Levi Bookin
July 19, 2013
Recent posts address "The" issue. Women at the Wall is not what this question is about.
is that a small minority of men choose to be offended when women pray in the way that those women's souls need to pray.

A small minority of men seek to limit women's prayers.

However, "the issue" of this site is why Jews pray at the Kotel (THE Wall) at all.

But since Jews do pray thee, men's exclusion of women from certain major aspects of the service is bad enough, without a small minority of men pretending to be offended when some women pray in the way that their neshamas need.

No one can claim to know the suffering of another, or to deny anyone the right to pray in a way that nourishes one's own neshamah, much less to be offended when a hungry soul attains the nourishment it desperately needs.

I've encountered more than one man who erroneously imagined that whatever any woman needed to do "must" be centered in HIM rather than in her own soul's need.

Try to imagine men limiting THEIR prayers to the dictates of women.

Got to run. Time to bentsh licht.
Devorah Esther
Brooklyn
July 19, 2013
The Mount or the Wall!
Maybe it is to avoid wars between two cousins each claiming possession of an historic and Holy site. Being so close to each other, they get the Dome, we get the Wall. In the long run, which one will sustain time? Maybe this way is G-d’s Will knowing which one is more reasonable than the other not to fight for a monument while there shouldn’t be any difference for G-d where you pray, as long as you do. It seems that G-d favors the bad one because he has to learn thru life lessons until he transforms unto a good one, while the good one is already there and there is nothing for him to change anymore.
Feigele
Boca Raton FL
July 19, 2013
The Mount or the Wall!
Maybe it is to avoid wars between two cousins each claiming possession of an historic and Holy site! Next to each other, they get the Dome, we get the Wall. In the long run, which one will sustain time? Maybe this is G-d’s Will knowing which one is more reasonable than the other not to fight for a monument while there shouldn't be any difference for G-d where you pray, as long as you do.
Feigele
Boca Raton FL
July 19, 2013
Temple Mount
Why do we pray at the Temple Mount retaining wall when we ought to be praying on the Temple Mount as that is where the Temple stood and where our ancestors prayed?
david
melbourne, florida
jewishbrevard.com
July 18, 2013
Women at the Wall
I have not followed this controversy, but it did seem, the verse in all this, in controversy itself, was a feeling, women were not being treated with equality. I could be wrong. I do not live in Israel but do not there is a politics to how Israel is run, that does put, secular Jews, another controversy, in "place". It feels like there are rules governing even those who are not religious in the Orthodox way. As to the WALL we all will go to the WALL in petitioning for a new chapter in a very old story. And that is the Wailing that has to do, with the bitter parts of life and story.

I only say this, because my life is so visibly NOT random, and I have already proved this on paper by way of a story that winds like smoke, a wreath, around this small life.
ruth housman
marshfield hills, ma
July 18, 2013
Women at the Wall
Women have always prayed at the Wall, and will no doubt continue to do so.

The question in issue has been the behavior of a small minority who use the opportunity to offend the majority of those present.
Levi Bookin
July 17, 2013
The Western Wall
There is a feeling of holiness, of sanctity, connected to Jerusalem. It feels like holy ground, and often I have seen, on my visits, people kissing the ground, particularly Orthodox Jews. I think people should "go" with their feelings, and I feel a true Biblical Aliveness when I have visited Israel, and certainly, Jerusalem. So many pilgrims from around the world have been here, so many wars fought. I am glad there was a movement Women of the Wall, WOW, so women could pray at the Wall, as men have for a long time, as a group, undisturbed. I also feel, as do many others, that the temple of the Divine resides within, and THAT sanctuary can be accessed anywhere at any time, in meditative stillness. For me, Nature, the woods, the mountains, are the loftiest of sanctuaries. The beaches, by the waters, wherever one chooses to rest, to look up, and to look down and around. An immanent presence of G_d requires a worshipful reverence, and inner understanding, it's all G_D.
ruth housman
marshfield hills, ma
Show all comments
FEATURED ON CHABAD.ORG