Can you believe we are here? We are at the Temple Mount or Mount Moriah. The Temple Mount is the historical and spiritual focus of Jerusalem revered by the Jews as the holiest place on earth. The rock at the center of the mount (now covered by the Dome of the Rock) is believed to be the place where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Solomon built the First Temple here, and later the Second Temple was built on the same spot. Christianity associates the Temple Mount with the preaching of Jesus. For Muslims, this is the place Mohammed is believed to have ascended to heaven.
The gold-capped Dome of the Rock was built in 691 by Ummayad Caliph Abd el-Malik. The mosque is one of the wonders of the modern world, adorned with wall mosaics, beautiful carpets, and stained glass windows with a marble façade and blue and gold tiles on the outside walls of the building.
The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, is all that remains of the Second Temple. Pilgrims from all over the world gather to pray here. After the reunification of Jerusalem following the Six-Day War in June 1967 the site was cleared and this vast, paved plaza was built. At any time day or night, winter or summer, Jews can be found standing in front of the Wall in devout prayer, some placing the ir messages in cracks and crevices between the stones. The day our group visited was Jerusalem Day, a celebration day for the completion of the Six-Day War in June 1967. You can see the plaza was jam-packed with crowds of Jews coming to commemorate the victory of peace. Later on, we were able to approach the wall and pray—women on the right side of the Wall, men on the left.
Our group waited an additional two hours before we could approach the wall to pray. I wrote my prayer for the peace of Jerusalem on a small piece of paper but was unable to place it into an open crevice near me. I searched for an opening, yet between each brick, like paper mortar, the cracks and crevices were jam-packed with the hand-written petitions of hundreds of others who had gone before me. Finally, I was able to touch the wall with my hand and began to pray, silently at first; yet almost immediately feeling a physical and spiritual breakthrough, I moved closer and leaned into the wall. My forehead now pressed onto the cool stone, I prayed aloud, joining the murmured symphonic whispers of scores of women, lined along the Wall, shoulder to shoulder, many draped in prayer shawls and head coverings, making their own petitions to God in languages I couldn’t understand. I was overcome with emotion for the thousands of prayers prayed at this very place throughout the centuries. May God hear the prayers of His people.
“And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, and to worship him…these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer.” —Isaiah 55:6–7
Don’t miss out on tomorrow: the Via Dolorosa and the Garden of Gethsemane!
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