In a number of old videos of Jerusalem in the 1920's and 1930's, one who is paying attention can discern Hebrew words written on the very stones of the Western Wall.

1925

1925

What is the origin of this writing? What did it say? Did it have any religious significance (perhaps an earlier version of note-placing)? And when was this writing removed?

  • 1
    It looks as if it is actual writing (like paint) rather than being carved into the stone. Thus, the rain over the years would remove it or the writing would have been removed when the stones were cleaned. – sabbahillel Dec 5 at 20:25

According to this article (and this one), until not too long ago there was a practice of writing one’s name directly on the wall. This is where the modern practice of writing a note comes.

The first article quotes the twelfth-century traveler Benjamin of Tudela, who writes that in the central house of prayer in Jerusalem at that time, Shaar Rachamim - as well as at Kever Rachel - "Jews who would arrive there would write their names upon the wall".

In this picture, some of the names are legible.

  • Fascinating. Although this answer still doesn't provide an actual origin to this custom, nor the perceived meaning for those performing it (ie. in what way is writing one's name at a location bear significance), it does provide a broader historical context, which makes it seem that this may not be a specifically Jewish practice in origin. – Chaim Dec 5 at 13:34
  • 1
    I ferverently hope this practice was banned before an appearance by Rav "קלרי – Josh K Dec 5 at 17:49
  • 1
    I wonder where the names went. Did they erode? – ezra Dec 5 at 18:05
  • If this picture is not Photoshoped, the names are pretty clear. – Al Berko Dec 5 at 19:05
  • @ezra - According to some of the "Meshichists", perhaps the rebbe replaced them ;-) – DanF Dec 5 at 22:30

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .