The Western Wall in the midst of the Old City in Jerusalem is the section of the Western supporting wall of the Temple Mount which has remained intact since the destruction of the Second Jerusalem Temple in 19BCE. The Wall became the most sacred spot in Jewish religious and national consciousness and tradition by virtue of its proximity to the Western Wall of the Holy of Holies in the Temple, from which, according to numerous sources, the Divine Presence never departed.
Many visitors to the 2,000-year-old Western Wall (also called the “WailingWall) leave notes bearing requests and prayers. Senator Obama did so during a 5:00am pre-dawn visit on Thursday, following a day spent meeting Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Senator Obama’s prayer, written on a piece of hotel notepaper, was published by an Israeli newspaper, which was criticized for making it public.
“Lord – Protect my family and me,” read the note published in the Maariv daily. “Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.”
Twice a year, when the cracks in the Wall become full, the prayers and messages are removed and buried – without being read – in strict accordance with Jewish law.
“The notes placed between the stones of the Western Wall are between a person and his maker. It is forbidden to read them or make any use of them,” he told Army Radio. The newspaper’s action, he said “damages the Western Wall and damages the personal, deep part of every one of us that we keep to ourselves.”
Another Israeli paper, Yediot Ahronot, published an article saying it had also obtained the note but decided not to publish it to respect Mr. Obama’s privacy.
Maariv published a photograph of the note, which it said had been removed from the wall by a student at a Jewish seminary immediately after Senator Obama left.
The handwriting appeared to match a message Obama wrote in the guest book at Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial, on Wednesday and was written on stationery from the King David Hotel, where Obama stayed while in Israel.
At the Western Wall, Mr. Obama was greeted by a crowd of curious onlookers and photographers. He donned a white skullcap, listened to a rabbi read a prayer, and inserted a folded white piece of paper between the stones.
Shameful. This is a sacred and most personal communication between Senator and his Lord and Savior.
It never should have been removed from the wall…