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Ancient Graffiti,Nails in the Western Wall; Legends and customs for Jerusalem Day
Posted on May 17, 2015
Ever wonder about the Western Wall? I mean, really wonder?
You stand at the Wall, praying, thinking, meditating or just admiring. You see people putting small pieces of papers in the cracks. As you look up higher, you see that the upper stones have small holes in them. You wonder, what’s this all about?
In years past, people would come to visit the Western Wall. A few hundred years ago, the street level adjacent to the Wall was much higher than today.
People would come to the Wall, and want to leave their name or their mark at the wall, showing that they were there!
If you stand along the Wall in the Archeological Garden (near where the Western and Southern Walls meet) and look up, you can see a verse from the book of Isaiah scratched into the Wall, probably by a Jew who returned from the Babylonian Exile, possibly during the 6th Century (when the Persians conquered the Middle East and allowed the Jews to return from the 1st Exile).
You can also look up and see the scribbled name of a pilgrim who came to the Wall.
Also, as you look up, you may notice that the upper stones have small holes in them. Many have thought that these were just porous stones, which rainwater has damaged (thus creating the holes) over the years.
Actually, people used to come with small nails and hammers and make their marks
in the rocks. Imagine going to do that today!!!
Today we have a different custom. The Authorities could not possibly allow people to come in with hammers and nails, nor would they allow anyone to write or scratch their names onto the Wall. If you tried to do either of these acts, you would probably be arrested by the Police and told that you suffer from the Jerusalem Syndrome!
Instead, today we write notes. People of all ages come to the Western Wall and put a note in the Wall. Some write a blessing, others a prayer. Some write a personal request, others write a request on behalf of others. Some just write their name. Those who can’t write, draw pictures. While those who don’t know what to write, or even how to write, just crumple up a piece of paper and put this into the cracks in the Wall.
Whatever you do, whomever you are, we believe that at this Holy site, your prayers and thoughts go directly up to God.
And what happens to those Papers? There seems to be a never ending amount of visitors to the Western Wall, always adding papers . Is there always room for more??
Their is a special crew of workers. Their job is to keep the area of the Western Wall clean. They collect the papers that fall out of the cracks. (I have even seen them removing some of the papers at ground level, to make room for more).
And what do they do with these papers that have fallen? They are not thrown away.
The authorities considers these to be Holy papers, similar to a parchment from a Torah scroll or Siduur that has been torn or can no longer be used.
These papers are collected by the workers and put into sacks. Just like a damaged Torah Scroll, these sacks will then be buried in special areas of a cemetery , reserved for Holy books and parchments.
Want to insure that your piece of paper doesn’t fall out, or won’t be taken out to make room for others? Visit and/or pray at the part of the Western Wall that is located inside the Archeological park. Since fewer people pray there, chances are that your paper will stay in the Western Wall much longer.
Whatever you do, I encourage you to come to Israel, visit the Western Wall and place your paper in one of the cracks. Its our way today, of leaving a sign that you came to visit this important and Holy place.
And it’s your way, of reminding God that you are here..
And Who knows? Maybe your wish or prayer to God that you write, draw or just crumple on that piece of paper will come true…
May it be so!
Happy Jerusalem Day!