Do We Take the Kosel for Granted?


koselBy Michael Freund
It stands there silently, contemplatively, like a sentry guarding its post, projecting strength and a dramatic sense of history even as it invokes our deepest longings regarding Jewish destiny.

As the best-known site in all of Yerushalayim, it is a symbol that resonates profoundly and sometimes inscrutably in the heart of all those who feel the softness of its touch.

Indeed, for those of us born after the miraculous events of the Six Day War, it is hard to conceive of a time when the Western Wall was defiled and unreachable, languishing despondently under foreign rule.

We visit it whenever we wish, free to recite any prayer, and to offer as much praise or shed as many tears as our hearts might desire.

Nonetheless, it was just 48 years ago, on the 28th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, that this ancient relic of the Temple period was returned to our people.

But how much do we really appreciate and cherish the Wall? I hesitate to ask, but, do we perhaps take the Western Wall for granted? Of course, the Temple Mount, which sits above the Wall, is our holiest of holy sites, surpassing the Wall in significance. And we must work towards the day when we shall be free to ascend it in peace, unencumbered by political restrictions.

But has our unfettered freedom at the Wall below led us to lose our sense of wonder about this very special place? Consider the following. There is a Midrash in Bamidbar Rabba (11:2) where the sages, based on a verse in the Song of Songs, assert that “the Western Wall of the Temple will never be destroyed.”

Here it is, erect in all its grandeur, defying history, humiliation and the odds, a physical testament to the Divine promises made to our forefathers so long ago.
Those words are breathtaking. At the height of our people’s suffering in exile many centuries ago, when we were being massacred, persecuted and hunted as no other nation before or since, how could anyone suggest that ever one of Jerusalem’s many conquerors would leave the Wall standing? And yet, here it is, erect in all its grandeur, defying history, humiliation and the odds, a physical testament to the Divine promises made to our forefathers so very long ago.

But how often do we visit it? When was the last time you caressed its stones, or bent your head and leaned on it soundlessly seeking spiritual succor? Sure, there are those who regularly make a pilgrimage to the site, while others seek it out in times of need.

But there are too many of us – far, far too many – who have not set eyes on the Wall in all its glory in years or even decades.

This has got to change. Especially now, when pressure is sure to mount on the Jewish state to divide Yerushalayim.

I think it is time for each and every Jew, all those of us who love Yerushalayim and cherish its unity and wholeness, to make a simple yet significant pledge: to visit the Western Wall at least once a year. Don’t let 12 months go by, don’t allow the time to pass, without heading to the Old City of Jerusalem and standing at the Wall.

Just imagine what our ancestors down through the generations would have given to be able to glimpse it for even a few moments. How can we not seize the opportunity to go there, to be there, to show the Wall, and G-d, and all of mankind that this place is ours and we shall never give it away?

A question: Have you ever wondered what holds the Wall together, what keeps those majestic stones united? There is no cement or adhesive, nothing that would appear to keep them in place. What is the secret of its accord? The late Rabbi Dov Perla, the rabbi of the Western Wall, pondered this question and once told a bystander visiting the site, “It is the pressure. The pressure of the heavy stones one on top of the other – that is the secret of its upright position, just like the Jewish people! “The more the nations pressured us,” he continued, “the more external pressures we faced, that is what brought us together in unity of purpose. That is what has kept the Wall standing, and that is the secret of our people too.”

Let us recommit ourselves today to that sense of unity by visiting the Wall at least once a year and never abandoning it again. Take the pledge, now, and keep your promise. The Wall, and especially He who watches over it, await.


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  1. ”But how much do we really appreciate and cherish the Wall? I hesitate to ask, but, do we perhaps take the Western Wall for granted? ”

    in human nature we take things for granted. we even take life for granted. This is the only lesson i realized that takes us a life time to learn (we never learn it ) although it gets revealed to us so many times each year. HOW LIFE GOES BY IN AN INSTANT. One second, father just made הבדלה from שבת & Mother is already lighting the candles, something is wrong here something has to be wrong 6 days just flew by .this is how every year goes by we go from חנוכה & Before you know it its time to order משלוח מנות for פורים Then its exactly 30 days to פסח we then count exactly 7 weeks until שבועות then its exactly 4 weeks until שבעה עשר בתמוז then comes the 3 weeks & then 3 weeks of summer & Before you know it its time to blow the שופר already YES A YEAR JUST FLEW BY & IS GONE FOREVER.

    I was once approached by 3 people-at 3 different occasions-with the same question, Each person asked me, how he can learn to stop taking things for granted & instead appreciate them? I then replied to each one with a different answer. The first person that approached me was in a shul, before starting Shachris. I told him, most lessons a person learns in life take weeks & months to learn but this lesson takes only one hour to learn. I then opened up a siddur to birchas Hashachar. & showed him boruch… pokeach Ivrim (blessed be Hashem for giving sight to the blind) & told him why don’t you close your eyes for one hour, just one hour & then open it up to, the world to color & beauty etc… you will not know how to thank Hashem enough. I then gave him 2 other examples. Boruch… Matir Asurim (blessed be Hashem for releasing the prisoner) & told him why don’t you lock yourself in a empty room for 1 hour?-it doesn’t need to be a prison cell it could even have a little furniture, & then come out an hour later to freedom & the world etc…. Boruch… Zokeif Kefufim (blessed be Hashem for straightening the bent) & told him why don’t you stand straight for one hour, no knuckles, elbows or knees, & then loosen yourself free. You will not know how to thank Hashem enough for giving you so much… how would a person eat & put food in his mouth without using his elbows? These are just a few examples. The second person approached me & I replied to him from a different perspective, I Told him if a company of 1000 employees had a policy that all employees must hand in their cell phone from 9:00am-when they arrive-until 5:00pm-when they leave-when he would get it back (at 5:00pm upon leaving) the person would not just look at his missed calls & text messages but would actually start to see the beauty of “the cell phone” & everything that it does…. upon the Third person approaching me-in the midst of a major snowstorm on a friday night-& asked me how will he ever make it home in such deep snow & darkness? I asked him if he knew what I think of when I see snow at night? He replied no, so I told him of the pesukim we say during maariv & in the morning of, Hashem takes light from darkness & dark from lightness. i.e. what else could light up the entire ground in the midst of darkness like snow? With Hashem deciding on each storm how big it will be & each snowflake if it will stick-to the ground-or become water in mid-air etc… BOTTOM LINE: there is always a way to look at every situation in the positive way (from a big water bill in the mail to other sad situations or any other situation a person is in.)