Twice a year, the Chief Rabbinate removes the special notes visitors place in the Western Wall in order to make room for new notes. The eve of Passover is one of those times. While all Jewish families clean their homes for the upcoming holiday, the staff at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount clean out the notes from the wall.
The Notes are Buried – The Sentiments Ascend to the Heavens
The Rabbi of the Western Wall explains this act in the video in Hebrew. “We pray that all the notes and prayers that are here in this wall will be brought before the one above. Now we bury these notes, with other holy artifacts, in order to make room for visitors to put in new notes. However, the prayers and requests on these old notes go up to the Heavens.”
The Rabbi is referring to the Jewish custom of burying papers and books of religious topics that are old or worn out. Judaism does not allow us to throw out any of these items. Instead, we bury them. In Judaism, we respect words and artifacts. They also contain holiness and we treat them with respect.
Where do we bury these notes? n a special section on the Mount of Olives, members of the Chief Rabbinate bury the notes. The cemetery on the Mount of Olives is the oldest Jewish cemetery in the world. And it overlooks the holiest place to the Jewish people, the Temple Mount.
In the video you see employees wearing uniforms with the word “Genizah” written in Hebrew.
What is a Genizah?
A Genizah is a storage area for Jewish books, pamphlets or notes that are old or torn. It is usually in a Jewish synagogue or in a cemetery. Anything people place in a genizah in a synagogue is slated to be buried in a cemetery.
In Judaism, it is forbidden to throw away writings containing the name of God. Even these notes in the Western Wall have holiness to them, even if the contents themselves do not contain the name of G-d.