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The Wall of Tears, the tragic story of one of the most famous buildings in Jerusalem

The Wall of Tears, the tragic story of one of the most famous buildings in

For non-Jews, it is an old fragment of a more than 2,000-year-old wall. But for Jews, it is an essential element of their history and identity. This is all that remains of the "Second Temple" that once stood on the Temple Mount, and was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

The Western Wall is part of the Temple Mount complex, considered a holy site by 3 religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism), and thus the hot spot of conflict between Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem.

The Wall of Tears or the Wailing Wall consists of large stone blocks weighing up to 100 tons each, built without any connecting elements between them. The space in front of the Wall, where not so long ago the houses stood, functions as an open-air synagogue.

Between the first Israeli-Arab war in 1948 and the Six Day War in 1967, the area was under Jordanian occupation, and the Jewish people had no access to the Wall. Meanwhile, during the "Six Day War" in 1967, Israel took the old city from Jordan, destroying the Arab settlements.

The Israelites created a space in front of the Western Wall where the Jewish people could pray undisturbed. Jewish men in black hats, long black coats, or wearing only a kippah (the typical Jewish hat that covers the top of the head), and women pray at an ancient wall, with a screen separating them from each other.

Some Jewish men mutter prayers and bow rhythmically. It is a sign that they immerse themselves in prayer with their whole body, heart and mind, increasing their closeness to God, as required by the Torah.

Among the shelves nearby are many copies of the Torah and Talmudic scriptures, and anyone can choose one of them. According to the Jewish concept, prayers performed at the Wall of Tears are much more effective.

People insert small papers, which contain written prayers to God, into the cracks of the Wall of Tears. Especially on Friday evenings and Saturdays, during the holy time of the Sabbath, many families go there to pray.

The Wall of Tears is also where Jews celebrate the ritual ceremony of Jewish children (bar mitzvah), marking their entry into adult life. 13-year-old boys approach the Wall with their relatives accompanied by music and drums.

The boy recites parts of the Holy Book, the Torah, and thus symbolically enters adulthood. The Jewish people were first united under King David, who conquered Jerusalem and made it his capital. He was probably aware of the story, according to which God had designated this place where Abraham would sacrifice Isaac.

So he wanted to connect his kingdom with the holy place. King David began building the temple, which was completed by his son Solomon around 1000 BC. It became the First Temple. The laws of Moses, called the Torah, were kept inside the church. The kingdom of Israel reached its peak under the rule of King Solomon. The First Temple stood for 400 years until 586 BC, when the Babylonians subdued Jerusalem, destroyed the temple, and sent the Jews captive to their capital Babylon.

After returning home from the 70-year Babylonian captivity, the Jews rebuilt the temple on the same site.

It became the Second Temple. Herod, king of Judea, appointed as such by the Romans, began the construction of many public works. He remodeled and expanded the Second Temple around 19 BC to win the sympathy of the Jews. He surrounded Mount Moriah (today's Temple Mount) with rectangular retaining walls, so the temple could accommodate up to 200,000 people.

The Roman Empire destroyed it in 70 AD. The temple's treasures were so valuable that it is believed that the emperor Titus used them to build the entire Colosseum in Rome. The only part that remained intact from the Second Temple is the Wailing Wall built by Herod.

Contrary to popular belief, the Wall did not belong to the church itself. It was bordered only by the Temple Mount on the western side. Today, there are two mosques on the Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, where Jews cannot pray, although they can enter.

The Wall of Tears is thus the closest place for them to their two previous temples, so now they mourn their destruction. The most religious Jews in Israel, and those living in the diaspora, pray daily for the rebuilding of the Temple.

They believe that there will be a Third Temple in the future, but exactly when this will happen is not known. Perhaps when the Antichrist reveals himself during the Great Tribulation predicted by the Bible. And the Third Temple will be destroyed by an earthquake at the second coming to Earth of Jesus Christ. Some Jewish religious communities are already collecting donations, and some ultra-Orthodox Jews are ready to begin building the Third Temple.

Published in bota.al