by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths
Before we returned to the Old City in 1967, the Jordanians controlled the area. There was a street sign placed on the Kotel itself. A rectangle was chiseled out of the stone so the sign would fit flush with the Wall. The hole is still there. It is in the middle of this picture, just under the small bush. It read, “Western Wall Road.”
Today, there are three distinct groups of stones forming the outside area of the Kotel. The lower six or so rows are larger stones that have a narrow border carved out along the edges of each stone. This is a sign that they were built by Herod.
The stones that form the next six or so rows (above bottom rows) are smaller stones. They were originally the large stones from the Kotel that were thrown down during the destruction 2,000 years ago. Many hundreds of years later the Muslims partially rebuilt the Wall to form a support for that area of the Temple Mount. They cut the large, thrown down stones in half or thirds to be able to rebuild the new levels. The Temple Mount ground level is at the top of those smaller stones.
The next sixteen (top) rows are very small stones. The story goes that the Muslims on the Mount would throw stones down onto the Jews who were praying below, so those stones were put there to prevent injury. Some say that Moses Montefiore arranged for this.
There is an additional single row of white thin stones on the very top of the Kotel. The story goes that the Muslims did not want the Jews who put the top 16 rows of small stones there to be able to claim that the Kotel belonged to Jews, so they put another row over it.
There is an unusual pattern of stones on the fourth row above the present ground level of Kotel stones (third row of this picture). First there are large stones that exposure to the elements has noticeably eaten away. Then, there are two smaller stones that are barely eaten away. Then there are stones that are eaten away, followed by one or two stones that are not. This pattern repeats itself all the way across that row of stones. Why?
Obviously, the stones that the weather has consumed over the years are softer stones than those that the weather has barely affected. I assume when that row of stones was set in place, some 2,000 years ago, the builders recognized the softness of those stones and spaced them apart with the harder stones set in place to protect the wall from collapsing.
The Kotel is wider (thicker) at the bottom, and each higher level is thinner than the one below it. This can be seen by the way the adjoining building butts up against the Kotel. Obviously, it was built this way to make the Wall stronger. Originally, there was no mortar placed between the stones, so only their weight and location secured the wall. Because of this pattern there are those who do not walk up to the Kotel itself, but stay a few yards back away from it. They feel it would be improper to stand right by the Kotel, because they would be standing on top of the lower rows of Kotel stones. Their actual concern is not to enter onto the Temple Mount.
The Kotel is the holiest place that we are allowed to go today, but it is not the holiest place in the world. The Temple Mount is the holiest place in the world. May we all be merited to soon stand there, and have the Shechina (G-d’s Revealed Presence) fill our hearts and minds forever.