|Temple Mount is
also called Mount Moriah
By Rabbi Shraga Simmons, based on "The Western Wall," published by the Israeli Ministry of Defense
1) The Holy Temple
The Temple Mount is also called Mount Moriah. This is the spot where Abraham bound Isaac, and where Jacob dreamt of the ladder reaching to heaven. The Sages explain that the name "Moriah" is actually a play on words: "Moriah is the place from which instruction (horah) goes forth, from which the fears of heaven (yirah) goes forth; from which light (orah) goes forth."
The Holy Temple served the non-Jewish world as well. When King Solomon built the Temple, he specifically asked God to heed the prayer of the non-Jew who comes to the Temple (Kings I 8:41-43). The Jewish prophet refers to the Temple as a "House for all nations" (Isaiah 56.7). The Temple was the universal center of spirituality, a concentrated point where God-consciousness filtered down into the world.
In ancient times, the service in the Holy Temple during the week of Sukkot featured a total of 70 bull offerings. This, the Talmud explains, corresponds to each of the 70 nations of the world. In fact, the Talmud says that if the Romans (who destroyed the Temple) would have realized how much benefit they themselves were benefiting from the Temple, they never would have destroyed it!
2) Permanent Reminder of God's Presence
The Wall is therefore a symbol of the Jewish People: Just as there have been many efforts to destroy the Wall - and yet it remains eternal, so too the Jewish People have outlived its enemies and remain eternal!
In the Torah, God assures us that the Jewish People will never be destroyed. In establishing the eternal covenant, God tells Abraham: "And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations, an eternal covenant, to be your God and the God of the descendants after you" (Genesis 17:7).
As Mark Twain wrote: "Other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?"
3) Place of Pilgrimage and Tears
The Talmud (Brachos 32) teaches that when the Temple was destroyed, all the Gates of Heaven were closed -- except for one. That is the Gate of Tears. The Western Wall therefore also become known as the "Wailing Wall" - because of all the tears Jews have shed there.
From 1948-1967, during the Arab occupation of the Old City, Jews were forbidden access to this holy cite. Imagine the joy each Jew feels today at the easy opportunity to go and pray at the Western Wall!
4) Focus of Prayers
Our mystical tradition teaches that all prayers from around the world ascend to the Wall, from where they then ascend to heaven. The Talmud says: "If someone is praying outside the Land of Israel, he should direct his heart in the direction of Israel. If the person is praying in Israel, he should direct his heart toward Jerusalem. Those in Jerusalem should direct their hearts to the Temple. As the Bible says, "And they will pray to You through the land which You gave to their fathers, the city which You chose, and the house which I have built in your name" (I Kings 8:48).
5) Built with Love and Dedication
When the Temple was being built, the work was divided among the different sectors of the population. The building of the Western Wall fell to the lot of the poor, and they worked hard to construct it, as they could not afford to hire laborers to do their work for them.
When the enemy destroyed the Temple, the Angels descended from on high and - spreading their wings over the Wall - said: "This Wall, the work of the poor, shall never be destroyed." (from "Legends of the Land of Israel")
6) Site of Jewish Heroism
Like them, our soldiers in 1967 fought in holy trepidation to liberate the Western Wall and the Temple Mount.