The Power of the Kotel

לא תבושי ולא תכלמי. מה תשתוחחי ומה תהמי. בך יחסו עניי עמי. ונבנתה עיר על תלה:
In the Tefila of Friday night in Lecha Dodi, we ask that: In You the poor of our nation trust, and let the city be built on its תל (hill).
The source for this is a Pasuk in Yirmiyahu : Thus says the LORD: Behold, I will turn the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have compassion on his dwelling-places; and the city shall be built upon her own תל (hill), and the palace shall be inhabited upon its wonted place.
The Hebrew word is תל, which appears a number of times in Tanach. Here in this context almost all the Meforshim translate it as a word of strength. But if you look in Devarim and Yehoshua they are used in a context of destruction . How are we to understand this seeming contradiction? And after we reconcile that, why is the Bais HaMikdosh to be built on that תל?
There is a piece in the Zohar which says the following : The Lower Shechina dwells in the Western Wall (Kotel), because it is the תל towards which all turn. The word כותל is made up of up כ”ו which is equal to twenty six in gematriya, the value of the ineffable name of HaShem, and תל which the Shechina is at the תל. And תל is the number 430 which is five times the name of Din (judgment Elokim- 5*86).
We can connect this to the Gemarra in Berachos, that deduces from a Pasuk in Shir HaShirim in which direction we face when praying : R. Abin — or as some say R. Abina — said: What text confirms this(to daven towards the Kodesh HaKodashim)? — Thy neck is like the tower of David built with turrets [talpioth], the elevation [tel] towards which all mouths (piyyoth) turn. So we see that the תל is the place of Tefila, and that is the Kotel. It would seem that this aspect of the כותל, is when the Bais HaMikdosh is destroyed. This is clear in the Zohar, but even in the Gemarra the need to daven would seem to be when there is no Bais HaMikdosh .
But what was special about the Kotel, that it becomes the תל which remains even after the Churban?
The Ramchal writes the following idea . There is a bone in the vertebrae which is called the Luz. Chazal tell us that it is indestructible, and from there Techiyas HaMeisim will begin . In addition there is a concept called Havla D’Garmi- a breath of the bones- which is the remnant of the Neshama that hovers over the grave. That too awaits Techiyas HaMeisim, and when the time will come, they will join together to bring about Techiyas HaMeisim. So too, he writes, is the Kotel. The wall is actually the piece of the Bais HaMikdosh which is indestructible, and is like the Luz; and the Shechina resting there is the Havla D’Garmi, and when the time arrives they will join together to be the foundation of the Third Bais HaMikdosh.
R Pinchas of Koritz extends this idea and says that in every facet of the world there is something eternal, parallel to the Luz. In the people of Klal Yisroel it is Eliyahu who never dies. And that is why he is the harbinger of Moshiach and the world of completion.
So we learn that the meaning of the word Kotel is the place where all prayers are directed when the Bais HaMikdosh is destroyed; and it is the indestructible part of the Bais HaMikdosh that will be source of the reconstruction. But what imbued the Kotel with these unique attributes above all the other aspects of the Bais HaMikdosh?
We need to add one more idea. The Kotel was built specifically by Dovid . Dovid is characterized by three ideas. Firstly Dovid is the essence of Tefila. As he says in Tehilim ואני תפילה my essence is Tefila. Secondly, Dovid is humility, he views himself as a pauper beseeching HaShem. Thirdly, דוד מלך ישראל חי וקים- as the extension of Adam HaRishon he begins the process of bringing Moshiach into the world which will bring the world to an unending life as Adam before the sin.
If we put these ideas together we get the following. The Kotel is a magnet-תל for Tefila, constructed by the person whose essence is Tefila. Dovid is also the person who brings the world back to a time when there is no death. Therefore the part of the Bais HaMikdosh that he builds is like the Luz, which is the seed from which rebirth takes place. This characteristic remains even after the actual Bais HaMikdosh is destroyed, and therefore the Shechina never leaves the Kotel, and awaits and brings about its reconstruction.
But if we take this idea further, we asked that the word תל means both destruction and strength. What allows the Bais HaMikdosh to be rebuilt is the feeling of Tefila that arises from a sense of impoverishment. When the Bais HaMikdosh is standing we do not need Tefila to the degree we do when it is not built. Dovid had that feeling of ‘lack’ since he desired to build the Bais HaMikdosh. His Tefila reflects that and is imbued into the one part of the Bais HaMikdosh that he did build. We approach from the other side, of loss and destruction. But that only makes our Tefila and desire that much deeper and heartfelt. The reason why the Kotel is a Luz is because of the feeling of lacking a Bais HaMikdosh. From the תל of destruction comes the תל of strength and that is where the Bais HaMikdsoh is rebuilt from. And that is what we say in Lecha Dodi- in You the paupers of our nation trust- meaning not financial paupers, but those who feel the lack of the Bais HaMikdosh, and from that the Bais HaMikdosh will be rebuilt from the destruction to the strength- on its תל. And the word תפלה is made up of תל and פה .
This idea of Bitachon and trust that the pauper has in the rebuilding is also a part of the Kotel as the Zohar writes : The Kotel is the place of the Shechina and that is the beginning of Emunah. And that Emunah brings the final Geulah as the Gemarra says: Chabakuk came and established the Torah on one principal – A tzadik dwells by his Emunah.
The source for this is in the connection between the Kotel and the Aron. The ARIZ”L says the Aron is the same letters as the word נורא- HaShem’s attribute of Tiferes . As the Gemarra says , that when Yirmiyahu saw the gentiles in the Bais HaMikdosh, he stopped praising HaShem with Nora. This is because there is no Aron, so there is no נורא. In the first Bracha of Shemoneh Esreh, the three attributes of גדול, גבור, ונורא are connected to the three Avos . Avohom is Gadol which is Chesed; Yitzchok is Gibor which is Din; and Yakov is Nora which is the balance between them, otherwise known as Tiferes. This therefore is the Aron-Nora, the convergence of Chesed and Din, which is destroyed with the Churban. This is also the verse השליך משמים ארץ תפארת ישראל That the Churban is a destruction of Tiferes, the convergence of Din and Chesed. The Zohar explains that the word Kotel is כ”ו the name of Chesed הוי”ה, and ת”ל which is five times the name of Din, and within the Kotel is this same convergence of Nora. Therefore when the Aron is destroyed, the Kotel replaces the balance between these two attributes, and replaces the Nora which is gone .
Since Yakov is Tiferes, the Pasuk which describes the Bais HaMikdosh as being built on the “KoTEL” begins with “I Will return the tents of Yakov”. The Midrash says that since Yakov when he has the dream, could see the Bais HaMikdosh before it was built, he merits that when it is built it is called ‘The House of Yakov’. In this same verse Yakov is written in an unusual way, with an extra ו’. The Midrash says that this is because Yakov is written with the ו’ five times and אליהו loses the ו’ five times. This letter is a guarantee that Yakov takes from Eliyahu that he will return and redeem his children. Since as we said there is a parallel between Eliyahu and the Kotel; that both are like the Luz; that is why in his verse Yakov has a ‘piece’ of Eliyahu to connect to the eternity of the Bais HaMikdosh.
And that is the Seudah of Melave Malka, where we eat for the Luz , and it is called the Seudah of Dovid, and we daven for the arrival of Eliyahu.
And this is what Yakov says when he has the dream at the place of the Bais HaMikdos : This is the House of EL, but it was called beforehand Luz. This place, even when it seems like there is nothing here, is a Luz that is indestructible, and is the source of rebuilding, speedily in our times.


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