It was right before noon when the visitors to the Western Wall heard a loud sound of joy, which is quite unusual for the holy place of prayer, the only vestige of the Holy Temple complex, destroyed in 70 C.E. by the Roman Legion and considered Judaism's most sacred site.
The jubilant cries came from the 24 Chilean miners who were rescued about three months ago from two months in the depths of the earth. They arrived yesterday for a visit to Israel after being invited by the Israeli Tourist Ministry, and as part of their trip, toured the Western Wall Plaza.
Israel National News TV spoke with two of the miners who described their feelings and the meaning of their visit to Israel. They said that their own rescue reminds them of the difficult periods in which the Jews were saved from harsh decrees throughout the ages.
“It’s something that’s very similar," said Samuel Avalos. "If there’s anything I can identify with it’s the idea of not losing faith, just like the Jewish people. I feel grateful that I can give back in return for everything that was done for me through all the prayers that were said for me and for the rest of the miners.”
“I would like to thank the Jewish people for extending this invitation to us and for the warm welcome,” said Luis Urzua. “I thank G-d and I hope that G-d stays with us.”
During their visit to the Western Wall, the miners said a prayer in which they thanked the Creator for the miracle that had befallen them in returning them from the depths of the earth to the open air. The miners approached the stones of the Western Wall with great excitement, placed notes, and prayed silently for a long period of time.
At their request, the miners did not tour the Western Wall tunnels because of the fear that still exists in them following the incident in Chile. Instead, they heard an explanation from the tour guides about the Western Wall and the Old City.