D287. June 15. The Holly Center of the Universe – Part 1

Jerusalem. Yerushalayim.
You pass through the gates of the old town, pass through the souk and dozens of small lanes and then, all the sudden, you get to see it, and you get a shiver of excitement, a frisson : The Western Wall (Mur des lamentations) is here.

Capture d’écran 2014-06-19 à 09.08.09 Built 2000 years ago, it was merely a retaining wall supporting the outer portion of the Temple Mount. But following the destruction of the Temple in 70 (by Titus and Vespasien, Roman emperors), Jews were sent to exile and the precise location of the Temple was lost. Upon their return, they avoided the Temple Mount, fearing that they might step on the Holy of Holies, the ancient inner sanctum of the Temple. Instead, this wall became a place of pilgrimage…

Capture d’écran 2014-06-19 à 09.08.29Behind, the Dome of the Rock. It covers a slab of stone sacred to both the Muslim and Jewish faiths. According to Jewish tradition, it was here that Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son and from which, according to Islamic tradition, the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven. The mosque was built in in 688 to compete with the imposing Christian Church of the Holy Sepulcher…

Capture d’écran 2014-06-19 à 09.18.45In 1948, the Jews lost access to the Wall when the Old City was taken by the Jordanians and the population of the Jewish Quarter was expelled. The Israeli Army fought their way directly to the Wall during the Six Day War in 1967.

Capture d’écran 2014-06-19 à 09.10.09 It now looks like an open-air synagogue, divided into two areas…

Capture d’écran 2014-06-19 à 09.10.23Men on the left (above), women on the right (below)… Where is toilet paper ?

Capture d’écran 2014-06-19 à 09.19.31When leaving the Wall, people don’t turn around but step back, to still face the Wall.

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Capture d’écran 2014-06-19 à 09.19.55This woman on the left seat wears a wig. Indeed, Orthodox Jews cover their hair…

Capture d’écran 2014-06-19 à 09.10.56Hasidic Jews rock backward and forward on their heels, bobbing their heads in prayer, occasionally breaking off to press themselves against the Wall and kiss the stones.

Capture d’écran 2014-06-19 à 09.16.53Hasidic Judaism is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality through the popularization and internalization of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspect of the faith (for what it means).

Capture d’écran 2014-06-19 à 09.17.44It was founded in Poland during the 18th century, before spreading in Eastern and Central Europe.


Capture d’écran 2014-06-19 à 09.16.09Above, a Lubavitch, recognizable by his peculiar hat. It is one of the hassidic currents. The movement was born in the 18th century in Lyubavichi, in the Smolensk Oblast, a Russian region in between Minsk and Moscow.

Capture d’écran 2014-06-19 à 09.09.55 The strings you see under their jackets are called tzitzit in English, tsilsit in French. Those specially knotted ritual fringes worn by observant Jews are attached to the four corners of the tallit (prayer shawl).
It comes from this Torah sentence : “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, that they shall make themselves fringes on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and they shall put on the corner fringe a blue thread.”

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Payot in Hebrew, sidelocks in English, Paillotes in French. This is the name of orthodox Jews and rabbis strands of hair. The Torah says, “You shall not round off the Pe’at of your head”. The word Pe’at was taken to mean the hair in front of the ears extending to beneath the cheekbone, on a level with the nose.
Capture d’écran 2014-06-19 à 09.09.18Many Hasidic and Yemenite Jews let their sidelocks grow particularly long. Even among Jewish groups in which the men do not wear noticeable payot, often the young boys do wear them until around the age of Bar Mitzvah.

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2 thoughts on “D287. June 15. The Holly Center of the Universe – Part 1

  1. The Wall… so small the wall !!! the bigger part it’s for male on the left, on the right, a little spac for women… even in religion the parity is not present !

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