People and Land of Israel: Place of Wailing Jerusalem

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 11
But as the sun was going westward, and the sabbath day rapidly approaching, we hastened toward the place of wailing. I found my own way, up one street, down another, through narrow alley after alley, and at last emerged suddenly in a small paved court or place, seventy or a hundred feet long by twenty broad, the east side of which was the high wall of massive stones on the west side of the mosque enclosure, which is without doubt the same wall that stood here, enclosing the temple in the days of its great glory. In this place the Jews are accustomed to assemble, and with low murmurs of prayer, to bewail the desolation of the holy places. Moslem rule forbids their nearer approach to their once holy hill.
The impression made on my mind by the scene here witnessed will never be effaced. Men, women, and children of all ages, from young infants to patriarchs of fourscore and ten, crowded the pavement and pressed their throbbing foreheads against the beloved stones. There was no formality of grief here. We waited till the crowd had thinned away and only a dozen remained. These were men of stately mien and imposing countenances: their long beards flowed down on their breasts, and tears, not a few, ran down their cheeks and fell on the pavement. There was one man of noble features that we especially noticed; whose countenance for more than half-an-hour seemed unmoved by any sensation of earth, save only that of grief too deep for expression. I approached close to him, but he did not look up at me. He sat on the pavement, his back to a wall of a house or garden, and his face to the wall that once enclosed the shrine of his ancestors. I looked over his shoulder, and saw that he was reading the mournful words of Isaiah; nor did I then wonder that he wept for the mockery that now occupied the place of the solemn services of the daily sacrifice, and the senseless Moslem traditions, which in vain essayed to cloud the glorious history of the mountain of the Lord.
Evening came down, and with the sunset the sabbath commenced. Still some old men lingered, and still we lingered too, for the scene was not to be witnessed elsewhere on all the earth. The children of Abraham approaching as nearly as they dared to the holy of holies, and murmuring in low voices of hushed grief and sobs of anguish their prayers to the great God of Jacob, some kissed the rocky wall with fervent lips-some knelt and pressed their foreheads to it-and some prayed in silent speechless grief, while tears fell like rain-drops before them.
I was deeply moved, as one might well be in the presence of this sad assembly-the last representatives, near the site of their ancient temple, of those who once thronged its glorious courts and offered sacrifices to the God who had so long withdrawn His countenance from the race. A more abject race of men can hardly be conceived than are the downtrodden children of Israel in the city of their fathers, except when they assemble here where the majesty of their -grief demands respect from every human heart. - Tent Life in the Holy Land