The Wailing Wall

Because of the custom of visiting the Western Wall to mourn and cry over the Temple, since the 19th century, it acquired the name – The Wailing Wall.

The Wailing Wall

The Western Wall is the western support wall of the Temple Mount, built about 2,000 years ago toward the end of the Second Temple period. The Temple Mount, upon which the First and Second Temples were built, was renovated toward the end of the Second Temple period under the initiative of King Herod. Its area was expanded and four support walls encompassed it, with the gloriously renovated Temple at its heart. The full length of the Western Wall is 488 meters. Part of the Western Wall is exposed at the Prayer Plaza and to the south of it, and most of it is covered by the homes built adjacent to it through history.

Measurements of the Western Wall


For generations, Jews have visited the Western Wall (Wailing Wall) and clung to its stones in prayer and mourning over the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple whose remnant is the Western Wall (Wailing Wall), in anticipation of comfort and redemption. It was customary to come to the Western Wall – Wailing Wall on Fridays prior to the Sabbath. Travelers and visitors, Jews and non-Jews, who came to the site, described the scene in different ways, based on their own perspectives and the ways in which the scene affected them.


Because of the custom of visiting the Western Wall to mourn and cry over the Temple, since the 19th century, it acquired the name – The Wailing Wall.


On the 9th of Av in 1911, Shneur Zalman Rubashov (later Zalman Shazar, Israel’s 3rd president) visited near the Western Wall (Wailing Wall). He wrote down his impressions and published them in the newspaper not long afterwards:


“You will go down through the narrow alleys of ancient Jerusalem and arrive at the Wall and stand there. Then you will not only see with your eyes but you will also feel with your entire being the single eternity in our past … And when your feet enter the courtyard of the Wall, here you feel and experience the re-weaving of your soul into the eternal fabric of 2,000 years … Into the space at this remnant of the Wall, the sighs from all the ends of the earth and all eras penetrate … The Wall does not differentiate between lands and eras. The tears have all flowed from the hearts of one people, they have all come from one source and they will all pray to One.”


There were Jewish philosophers and leaders in modern times who wished to bestow unto the Western Wall new significance as a national symbol. They wished to trade in the wailing customary at the Wall with Jewish national pride. But Shazar grasped the significance of the Wailing Wall and saw the tears shed by Jews there as a harbinger of a hopeful future.


The renowned poet Naftali Herz Imber preceded Shazar in the moving description of people at the Wall wailing and mourning the destruction as a basis of hope for the future in his most famous poem – Tikvateinu, Our Hope – part of which was slightly changed and became the national anthem of the State of Israel.

This is what Imber wrote in his poem:

Our hope is not yet lost,
The ancient hope,
To return to the land of our fathers;
The city where David encamped.

As long as in his heart within,
A soul of a Jew still yearns,
And onwards towards the ends of the east,
His eye still looks towards Zion.

As long as our precious Wall
Appears before our eyes,
And over the destruction of our Temple
An eye still wells up with tears.

Our hope is not yet lost,
The ancient hope,
To return to the land of our fathers;
The city where David encamped.

The memory of the Western Wall and of the Temple and the sorrow over the destruction preserve the hope to return to the land of our forefathers and to the city where David encamped, wrote Imber, just as Shazar had expressed. The tears that stream to the Western Wall from the hearts of Jews around the world, from near and far, unite the Jewish nation around Jerusalem and around the Western Wall and express its connection with its past and its hopes for the future. These tears are the foundation for the actions that actualize the Jewish nation’s hopes and dreams.


Following the Six Day War, the appearance of the Western Wall changed dramatically and it became a national Jewish site where various ceremonies are held that express the return of the Jewish nation to its land, such as joyous bar mitzvahs and other events related to the Jewish life cycle. However, all these do not negate the old significance of the Western Wall or the awareness that the lack of completeness in the nation still exists along with the hope for its completion and the joy about the change of the Jewish nation’s situation and its return to its homeland and capital city.


Today November 30, 2022

End of prayer time:
Mid day:
הכותל המערבי

We invite you to be a true partner and assist in the ongoing maintenance of the Western Wall


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Interesting Facts

The Western Wall's visible stones tell of its history from the time of the Holy Temples' ruin. The original Herodian stones are distinct from the others in size and in their unique borders.
The building style of "grading" used when layering the Western Wall's stones, teaches us that the Temple Mount's walls were not perpendicular but marginally sloping.

Parasha of the Week

Notice for Women's Section in Tunnels

The women's section in the Western Wall Tunnels closes on Fridays at 13:00 and opens again about 15 minutes before Shabbat begins.

Event Calendar

5 Kislev 5783
November 29, 2022
We were very excited and privileged to host Holocaust survivors from Rishon Lezion at
5 Kislev 5783
November 29, 2022
Chanukah candle-lighting at the Western Wall in the presence of public figures
4 Kislev 5783
November 28, 2022
Latvian President Egils Levits and his wife came to visit and pray at the
3 Kislev 5783
November 27, 2022
Parashat Vayetzeh 5783 Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites
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