On Tuesday morning, the stones of the Western Wall (Kotel Hama’aravi) were cleaned and disinfected, in preparation for the Passover holiday.
Millions of people visit the Kotel every year, from Israel and all over the world, and many of them place notes with requests to G-d into the cracks between the ancient stones. These prayer notes are customarily removed twice a year, before Passover and the Jewish New Year, and are buried.
This week, the notes were removed by workers wearing protective gloves and using disposable wooden implements. The notes were gathered into sacks and will be buried on the Mount of Olives.
In the last half year alone, more than 18,000 prayers were sent to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation’s website, to be printed out and placed between the stones, with requests coming from all over the world.
The Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, personally supervised the removal of the notes.
“During these difficult days, when an epidemic is spreading around the world, threatening our lives, we are adding to our prayers at the site of the last remnant of the destroyed Holy Temple, praying to the Creator of the world and asking Him to save us from this terrible epidemic,” he said, before offering a prayer of his own at the Kotel, asking G-d to bring about the complete recovery of all members of the Jewish people as well as those of other religions and nations.