THE WAILING WALL
[* Picture supplied by Christian Witness To Israel.]
THE WAILING WALL
By CLARENCE D. WISEMAN (in 1947)
In company with a group of British service men, I visited the Wailing Wall in Jerusalern,* on a Hebrew Holy Day. The wall is about seventy-five feet long, and is held in highest veneration by pious Jews who believe it to be a surviving portion of their ancient temple. Though not actually part of the temple, archaeologists say that it most certainly dates from the time of Herod, and probably was part of the wall that surrounded the temple area.
On this day hundreds of Hebrews were weeping pitifully at the sacred spot. Women cried bitterly as they beat their foreheads against the stones. I ran my fingers over the surface of one of the huge blocks from which the wall is constructed and found that it was worn quite smooth by the presence of a million hands and lips down through the long weary centuries since the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70.
The Wall is
156 feet long and 59 feet high, and is probably the only remaining portion of
In the interstices between the blocks of stone were little slips of paper bearing written prayers, placed there by simple souls who consider that if God should forget their spoken words He surely would not fail to remember their written petitions if left in such a holy place. I also noticed a few rusty nails driven into the cracks many years ago by Jews who were bent on “fastening” their prayers in a sure place. This custom is no longer observed, for the authorities have banned it lest it weakened the wall.
I saw many people kiss the stones passionately. At one time, at the far end, a man began to chant in a high-pitched monotone, and the crowd took up the refrain. This went on for some time, and the atmosphere was so charged with a sorrowful sense of despair and frustration that it sent a chill through my soul.
all nations, these Jews were lamenting the loss of their land and the
destruction of their temple, pleading piteously to Jehovah for their
restoration. Women wept with honest
tears – perhaps they were thinking of loved ones slain in the gettoes of
- The War Cry.
THE CONFESSION OF A JEW*
[* This confession of an unnamed Jew is a most
wonderful forecast of the revelation which will break at last, like lightning,
‘WE are not in Goluth because we have been such good and willing missionaries to the Gentiles.’ This farce has been spread among us Jews that we are missionaries of the faith of the one God among idolatrous Goyim. Gentiles do not set a foot in our synagogues, except in rare cases, and that for curiosity sake, to see how we perform our religious rituals; and when they come there, we do not often offer them a seat or welcome. Yea, whenever one does venture within the holy precincts of our prayer-houses, we look at him as if he were a bit of poison who would make us Posul.
It must be some gross sin that drove us out of Erets Israel. If the Most High had any intention of using us as His servants to the other peoples in the world, He would not have driven us wholesale out of the land of our Fathers. He would have left us in the possession of the land, and selected a spiritual army to go out and conquer the nations for His faith. But we have been sent as a body from our glorious land, driven by the sword of the enemy from our hearths, and drowned in rivers of blood. And from that day on, we have known little but sorrow upon sorrow, as our own Moses foresaw: “The Lord shall give thee a trembling heart, a failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind.” No goodness on our part, no willingness to serve God in the capacity of missionaries among the nations would have been rewarded with such pay from the Almighty God.
Now, comes the great question: “Why are we then in exile?” If we ask the average of our people, the answer is: “We do not know.” And truly, our trouble is of such long standing, and we have become so accustomed to our Exile, that very few, if any of us, have given any thought to the matter; and because we scarcely think about it any more, we have not searched out the cause of our estate of 2,000 years of misery. The Rabbis, our leaders, generalize away the causes, by stating that our sins must be the reason, but they leave it there. They do not search for these causes and look for any specific sin which might have aroused the ire of the Almighty. And yet it must be, it cannot be otherwise, that there is something outstanding in our national history that has caused the wrath of the Almighty to be provoked, and that with such terrible results.
Again, what did we do to our brother Joseph? The finest boy of our father Jacob’s family! Because he was a dreamer, we hated him, we intended to kill him, we threw him into a pit, and then sold him to Ishmaelites who in turn sold him to the Egyptians. From this treatment of our brother Joseph comes the bitter cause and the weight of all our sorrows. For all our captivities are but punishment for the treatment given to our own flesh and blood, our noblest blood. Our tribal fathers charged each other:‑- “We are guilty concerning our brother; therefore is this distress come upon us.” And Reuben answered them, “Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? Therefore, behold, also, his blood is required.” (Gen. 42: 21, 22).
What about this present captivity of nearly two
millenniums? What brother did we betray to reap this
long exile? Whom did we see nearly two
thousand years ago in the anguish of his soul? And we would not hear! Whose blood was
required then? In all our history since
the return from
Our fathers who perpetrated that crime against their own flesh and blood, called upon themselves and us the curse that Reuben said that our earlier fathers reaped when they had sold little Joseph: “His, blood be upon us and upon our children.” It has indeed been so, the blood of Jesus has been required of us now for nearly two, thousand years. We have bled for His blood in rivers.
We Jews must let our eyes be opened, that we may see the truth of these matters: We surrendered Jesus to be crucified, we stood at that ignoble tree and watched him in His pain, and our hearts remained stones, and have been stones ever since, so far as Jesus is concerned. We slandered our own mother’s son, we cursed him, spit on him, we called out, when His name was mentioned: Yemach, Shemou. And in the meantime we suffered, and suffered, and suffered, and we said to ourselves that we did not know why we suffered. We blamed it to the intolerance, the stupidity, the blood-thirstiness, the Jew-hatred of the nations. Indeed these are the second causes, but they are mere co-incidents.
Yet there is something miraculous in all this. For it is a miracle of mercy that we are still in existence. We, had we received our due reward, would have perished from the earth long before this. If God had fully followed up His indignation for those wrongs, we would have sunk into the sea of oblivion. Yet we are still here and still have precious promises of a great future. What is the secret of this strange phenomenon: punished, but not perished? For the continuation of existence we have to thank these very maltreated brethren!
It was Joseph who kept us alive when we almost
starved in Canaan and furnished us a place of refuge in
And there came a day in Joseph’s life that he made himself known to our fathers, clothed with kingly robes and acting with the authority of a king. And there will yet come a time when our people will see Messiah-King, Jesus, who was cut off. For as our prophet Zacharia said:‑“They will see Me Whom they have pierced,” not on a cross, but as a King with authority and honour. He will reveal Himself unto us and unto our children in his own appointed time. He may even quote the words of Joseph:‑“I am Jesus, your brother, whom you surrendered to the Romans. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that you surrendered me to them: FOR GOD DID SEND ME BEFORE YOU TO PRESERVE YOUR LIFE.”
However, before this moment of revelation takes place in the future, we as individuals must acknowledge our grossest of all sins, and if we do, God will for Jesus’ sake pardon us, even now!