One of the highlights during our Christian tours to Israel is visiting the Western Wall, the remaining wall of the Second Temple, where Boy Jesus is found in the Temple court after three days of being lost (Luke 2:41-52), and where later Jesus Cleanses the Temple (Matthew 21:12-17) overturning tables during a pilgrimage by Jesus and his disciples to the holy city of Jerusalem, and it is the Temple that Jesus uses his body to compare to foretelling the high Jewish council he will be raised after being destroyed after three days (John 2:19).
The Western Wall, also known as The Wailing Wall, the Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the area known as The Noble Sanctuary. Parts of the wall are ruins of the ancient wall that surrounded the Temple, and is arguably the most sacred site recognized by the Jewish faith. Just over half the wall, including its seventeen courses located below street level, dates from the end of the Second Temple period, believed to have been constructed around 19 BCE by Herod the Great, but recent excavations indicate that the construction of the Temple were not finished during Herod's lifetime. The remaining layers were added from the Umayyad era onward, especially during Ottoman rule. The Western Wall is not only the exposed section facing a large plaza commonly used for a site for prayer, but also to the sections behind structures running along the whole length of the Temple Mount, like the Little Western Wall – a 25 ft. section in the quarter.
Some scholars believe that when Jerusalem came under Christian rule in the 4th century, there was a purposeful "transference" of respect for the Temple Mount and the Western Wall in terms of sanctity to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Many Christians traveling to the Holy Land come here to pray, and many enjoy watching the festive Bar / Bat Mitzvahs at the Western Wall.
The practice of placing prayer notes into the cracks of the Wall began over three hundred years ago. The earliest account of this practice is told by the Munkatcher Rebbe. The story involves Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar, the Ohr Hachaim, in Morocco. The story goes that a man came to him in great distress after he had become so anguished that he was not able to provide food for his family. The Ohr Hachaim wrote him an amulet in Ashuri script on parchment and instructed the man to place it between the stones of the Western Wall. Another story is told involving a student of the Ohr Hachaim who planned to immigrate to Jerusalem from Morocco. The Ohr Hachaim instructed him to place a note in the Wall upon his arrival. The pupil, who later became famous as the Chida, attributed his personal success to the note, which read, “Dear God, please let my student Azulai become successful in Israel”.
Today, more than a million prayer notes or wishes are placed in the Western Wall each year. Notes that are placed in the Wall are written in all languages and format. Their lengths vary from a few words to very long requests. They include poems and Biblical verses. They are written on a wide variety of papers, including colored paper, notebook paper and even bubblegum wrappers, using a variety of inks. Twice a year these notes are collected and buried in the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.
The tradition of leaving notes for God in the Western Wall has also been adopted by Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land and people of other faiths. Besides pilgrims whom have placed notes on the Western wall it has also included Pope John Paul II in 2000, U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI in 2008, and U.S. president Barack Obama In 2009.
During your Christian holy land tour to Israel you can be part of this amazing experience by praying and placing a note for God in the cracks of the Western Wall, after all it was a highlight in Jesus times to travel to the Temple, and it will also be yours during this special day visiting the Holy Land Israel.