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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q14.14 TOC Q14.16 >

Question 14.15:
What is the Wailing Wall and why is it so important?


The term "wailing wall" is not used by Jews, who instead prefer the term "kotel/kosel hamaaravi," Western Wall.

The Western wall is a remainder of the wall on the outer perimiter of the mountain (although some people mistakenly believe it was the only remaining structure from the second temple left standing after the Roman destruction). Since the Jews are currently considered to be in a state of "ritual impurity" until a special ritual/procedure can be performed (notably the ashes of the red heifer), the traditional view is that no Jew may set foot on the actual site of the temple and this is the closest they can come to praying at the temple site. [Note: According to Rav Shlomo Goren, Jews can go on the southest 120 meters of the temple mount. This is the result of intersecting all the ideas of all the POSKIM.]

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

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© (c) 1993-2002 Daniel P. Faigin <>