On a recent trip to Israel, we explained to participants the tradition of folding written prayers and tucking them into a crack or crevice in Jerusalem’s famous Western Wall (also known as the “Wailing Wall,” or in Hebrew, the “Kotel”). The site is part of a retaining wall for the Temple Mount where several courses of stone date back to Herod’s day, when the Second Temple was remodeled and expanded.
The wall is as close as Jews can get to the now-destroyed temple, which was the seat of Israel’s religious life. Jews and Christians alike have found it meaningful to leave their prayers there, hoping perhaps that God will give them special attention. Several of our students and others placed a prayer in the wall during the visit: one brought a one-page list of all his church members, and found a crack large enough for the entire sheet.
I learned from this morning’s paper that someone has set up a Twitter feed so people anywhere can tweet a prayer to a special service that will print them out and stuff them into the wall. Those prayers, of course, will be limited to the 140 characters of typical tweets, so they won’t be full-page petitions.
Prayers are cleaned from the wall twice year, before Passover in the spring and the Jewish New Year in the fall, then buried on a mountain close to Jerusalem. Jews believe that anything containing God’s name should never be destroyed, so even government documents are buried just in case they should contain God’s name.
If you have a yearning to tuck a prayer into the Western Wall, but don’t have a trip to Jerusalem on your itinerary, you can learn more here, or just tweet your prayer to @TheKotel.