Where God’s Presence DwellsNovember 7, 2021 - 12:00 am
“He has founded his city on the holy mountain.— Psalm 87:1–2
The LORD loves the gates of Zion
more than all the other dwellings of Jacob.”
In honour of my father, Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, of blessed memory, and his lifework helping Christians understand the Jewish roots of their faith, I offer you one of his devotional teachings from the beloved Psalms.
One of the first stops for many newcomers to Jerusalem is the Western Wall. Standing in the Old City, it is considered one of the holiest sites in all of Judaism. It is the only wall still standing from the Second Temple, and Jews all over the world direct their hearts and prayers toward this remnant of their biblical heritage.
For many Jews, the Western Wall, known as the Kotel in Hebrew, represents not only their yearning to return home to Israel, but their right to return there. Even during the many years of the Jews’ exile from their biblical homeland, the Western Wall remained our most visible “mark” on the city. The Jewish claim to Jerusalem was never forgotten because our ancestors’ handiwork of the lone remaining wall of the Temple stands as a testament to our right to the City of David.
In fact, Jewish tradition holds that the Western Wall of the Temple was built through the donations of the poor. God realized what a sacrifice those families made in order to give the little money that they could to help build His dwelling, so He did not let their wall burn with the rest of Jerusalem. Rather, He kept the Western Wall standing strong to this day to honour their sacrifice.
Where God’s Presence Dwells
For Jews, the Western Wall is a visible reminder of God’s presence, His protection, and His provision for His people over the centuries. Standing at the Kotel today, one can almost imagine the scent of the sacrifices that were offered in that very spot thousands of years ago by King Solomon, and taste the tears of the thousands of people who had come to the Temple daily, praying and begging God for divine guidance and help.
Go to the Wall today, and you will witness thousands of people, Jews and Christians alike, inserting scraps of paper with heartfelt prayer requests into the crevices of the Wall. It remains a place of prayer where people can make their requests to God. We Jews believe that even though the Temple no longer exists, this is still the place where God’s presence dwells in a unique way.
And, indeed, people who visit the site testify that they feel God’s presence in a way unlike anywhere else on earth.
The Western Wall is a beautiful and wonderful reminder to all people of faith that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob keeps His promises — past, present, and future. No matter where we are in this world, we can be confident in that truth as we come to our Father in prayer.