Shmuel Rabinowitz
Rabbi of Western Wall and Holy Sites of Israel

Light from the Western Wall


Chanukah 5783

In the Book of Kings, it says that Solomon made for the Temple “windows broad without, and narrow within.” Our sages explained that they were made this way because he did not need them for light. In every house, windows are meant to bring light in from the outside. But in the Temple, their role was the opposite. The windows of the Temple were not meant to bring light in, but to spread the light of the Temple to the world outside. “This is testimony for mankind,” says the midrash, “that the Divine Presence rests among Israel – That is the westernmost lamp.”

The Talmud teaches us, “The offerings remain in force as long as the Temple exists, but the lamps are forever.” Indeed, even today, almost two thousand years after the destruction of the Temple, its light continues to shine at the Western Wall. This is a light that attracts over ten million visitors per year, a light that spreads out to the entire world.

Whoever gets their information from the media might be under the impression that the Western Wall has lately become a place of arguments and contention. Indeed, for the past few years, there have been extremist groups taking advantage of the Jewish nation’s sensitivity to what occurs at the Western Wall to stoke dissension and state their claims. But whoever comes to the Western Wall, whoever makes their way to the modest plaza at the foot of the ancient stones and joins the tens of thousands who come to the Western Wall every day, sees a completely different picture. They see that the Western Wall continues to be a place of connection and unity. They see a place where prayers of every kind are recited alongside each other. They see traditional prayers and those that spontaneously erupt from the heart. They see that every single day, the Western Wall is visited by Jews and non-Jews, Haredim and soldiers, Hassidim, and tourists. They are all attracted to the Western Wall and to the light that shines from it onto the nation and out to the entire world.

This year again, we will light the menorah at the Western Wall Plaza every night of Chanukah. Rabbis and leaders, the public, people from Israel and from the Diaspora will stand together and be blessed by the light of the candles, the light of the Western Wall, the light of unity and humility, the light of belonging and solidarity… which will continue to illuminate humanity for all of eternity. I invite you to join us in spreading the light of the Western Wall and of the Jewish nation.

About the Author
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz is the rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites of Israel, appointed to the position in 1995, by then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and the chief rabbis of Israel.
Related Topics
Related Posts