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On the day after Tisha B'Av 5778 a 400Kg (estimated) stone fell off the Kotel.

It was subsequently moved - for safekeeping - close to the Gate of the Moors, a.k.a. the Mughrabi Gate.

Meanwhile, the Rabbi of the Kotel, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, is figuring out its Halachic status.

I am wondering what the sides of the debate are. We already discussed Plants growing out of the Kotel and the accepted answer states that they should not be picked because [leaving them lying around] adds to the feeling of despair.

That would actually point to not moving the stone, but I assume it was moved for safety reasons, and to prevent tourists from picking off chips for souvenirs.

Now that it's been moved, would it have any Halachic special status?

  • It was part of the Western retaining wall of the Temple Mount, and not actually part of the Bet HaMikdash as such.
  • OTOH, we do treat the Kotel as if it has a special holiness, so maybe from a Minhag aspect, (if it's not a Din) it should have some special status.

But I can't find any specific related Halachot. Sources welcome!

  • IIRC one of the statement about the shechina of the area is that it settled on the Kotel after churban bayit sheini. – rosends Jul 26 '18 at 10:45
  • related – msh210 Jul 26 '18 at 10:51
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    @rosends no, it settled on the remenent of the western wall of the temple up on the mountain. The kotel is just a wall. Tour guides often erroneously conflate the two. (The midrash explicitly says that the other three walls were knocked down and only the western one wasn't. Clearly it's not the walls of the mountain which are still all standing (minus this rock).) – Double AA Jul 26 '18 at 11:26
  • Notably it came from the far south of the mountain which is almost certainly a Hasmonean/Heordian addition with no special holiness – Double AA Jul 26 '18 at 11:38
  • @DoubleAA - "remenent of the western wall of the temple up on the mountain" - does any of that still exist? (I guess we all heard the same non-fact without paying attention.) – Danny Schoemann Jul 26 '18 at 11:38
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This article quotes Rav Yitzchak Herzog (Heichal Yitzchak OC 18). I do not have access to this source to confirm the accuracy of the following discussion, so take this with a grain of salt until it can be confirmed.

  • The Meiri (Kiryas Sefer, Hil. Beis HaBechirah, ch. 5) writes that the entire Har HaBayis has Kedushah. Since the Rambam (Hil. Karban Pesach 9:1) writes (regarding the walls of the house in which a Chaburah eats their Pesach) that the walls are considered a part of the space within them, the author of the article argues that the retaining wall of the Har HaBayis (of which the Kosel is a part) should similarly be part of the Har HaBayis.
  • The problem is that a large part of the Kosel was added by Moses Montefiore in the 19th Century. This was long after the use of the Har HaBayis, and therefore, those stones are not endowed with the same Kedushah as the ones placed when the Har HaBayis was actually in use.
  • R’ Moshe Feinstein (YD 4:63) holds that there is a prohibition of not only Me’ilah (making personal use of property of the Beis HaMikdash) but also “Lo Sa’asun Kein LaHashem Elokeichem” (we are enjoined to destroy idols and all objects that are associated with their worship, and we are further enjoined not to do so unto Hashem).

All of this only helps when the stone is on the wall, though. What about when the stone has already fallen off? This seems to be a machlokes Achronim. (I am not clear if this part of the article is still quoting Rav Herzog or not.)

  • The Magen Avraham (OC 152:6) quotes the Maharam Padua (§65) that the prohibition of taking a stone of the shul (or, apparently, any holy place) is only when it is connected to the ground. The Machatzis HaShekel (no source provided) explains that this is because just like the commandment to destroy idolatrous alters is only when they are connected to the ground, so, too, the prohibition against doing so to holy objects is only when they are connected to the ground. According to these views, it would be permissible to make use of this stone.
  • On the other hand, the Chasam Sofer (in his responsa, OC 32) says that the Magen Avraham’s words are astonishing, as they seem to contradict the Gemara (Makkos 22a) which states that one who uses wood from the Mikdash to cook is in violation of Lo Sa’asun Kein - but nobody cooks with wood that’s still attached! Rather, he says, the Maharam Padua must have been referring to vessels inside the Shul rather than a part of the Shul itself. It’s clear from this Chasam Sofer that his opinion was that even when it’s disconnected from the ground it’s still forbidden. (The article doesn’t attempt to defend the Maharam Padua.)
  • So, back to our question: The stone that fell off is apparently (so I read) part of Herod's addition. So it would seemingly be included in the Rambam's Issur of Har Habayis. So even after it fell off, its Issur of Me'ila remains, from what I gather from the Igros Moshe, which starts on hebrewbooks.org/… - - BTW: I think that the Magen Avraham doesn't apply here, as Reb Moshe seems to prove at length; a shul and the Mikdash have different Dinim, and the stones of the Mikdash and its extension the Har haBayis retain their Kedusha. – Danny Schoemann Jul 26 '18 at 13:27
  • @danny Herod's addition didn't have holiness. Only the original 500*500 Ammah has holiness – Double AA Jul 26 '18 at 13:55
  • I emailed him: You mention the מ"א about shuls, and you assume his conclusion can be extended to the Har haBayis. The מ"א and the מ"ה that you quote are discussing destroying shuls (and idols). Only applicable when they are attached. But A. Z. pieces remain forbidden even after they are broken off. You no longer have a Mitzvah to destroy it, as per the מ"ה but it retains its issur, surely? (Unless you get a goy to do bitul.) Similarly, the stones of the Har haBayis retain the מעילה prohibition even if you claim there's no issue destroying them, Reb Moshe seems to make this rather clear. – Danny Schoemann Jul 26 '18 at 13:57
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    @danny was the ceremony performed by Herod? אין מוסיפין על העיר ועל העזרות אלא במלך ונביא ואורים ותומים וסנהדרין של שבעים ואחד ובשתי תודות ובשיר Did he have all those? – Double AA Jul 26 '18 at 13:59
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    @DonielF The Rambam writes that even in the times of Ezra they couldn't do the process. They just did a "Zekher" to the real process. (So all the more so Herod.) – Double AA Jul 26 '18 at 14:46

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