NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
As a small child, I remember accompanying my father to the Kotel. The bus ride from Kiryat Chaim to Jerusalem was tortuous and at times dangerous due to Arab snipers. We had to change busses three times. Having arrived in Jerusalem we changed to a local bus whose destination was the Kotel. On two occasions, having arrived at the Kotel the British Mandatory Police barred our entry due to Arab rioting. Nevertheless in the mid-1930’s we managed to gain access to the Kotel. Even for a 7 year old boy the Kotel was impressive and awe-inspiring. Prior to each trip, my father showed me old photos of the Kotel. In those days there was no mechitza, no benches for the elderly to sit, all forbidden by the British. Men and women huddled together at the ancient wall. My father was inspired by a 1937 article entitled “Mei'achar Kotleinu” (“Behind our Wall”) written by Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook, ZT”L. HaRav Kook chose a title which evokes God’s constant presence at the Kotel: “Behold, [my Beloved] is standing behind our wall, looking from the windows, peering from the lattices.” (Song of Songs 2:9)
To Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook, the term “Wailing Wall” was a shallow portrayal of the Kotel as a place of lamentation and despairing defeat. Moreover the term wailing Wall” evokes the weakness of a nationless people.
Kotel remains an icon of the undying spirit of the people of
Israel, now permanently ensconced in Eretz Yisrael.
Looking up at the formidable wall I recall Yossi Gamzu’s inspiring song.
The Kotel, moss and sadness; the Kotel, lead and blood.
There are people with a heart of stone; and there are stones with a human heart.
The imagery of Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook writings and Gamzu’s classic song prompted me to write this book. The concept of a stone with feelings able to share with us its observations over a period of two millennia was a revelatory moment
Kotel HaMa’aravi, the “Western Wall” was his choice to label the Kotel for it was, and still is, the holy remnant of the Second Temple complex. As explained in the book, ancient tradition maintains that “the Shechina never left the Western Wall”.Its unmoving stones are testimony that the Jewish people will return to their land and lofty heritage. And so it was in 1967 as our soldiers valiantly recaptured the Old City of Jerusalem which had been held captive for 29 bitter years by the Jordanians. Despite centuries of exile and oppression the