Boulder Falls From Western Wall, Almost Hits Worshipper

July 24, 2018 Last Updated: July 24, 2018

Disaster was narrowly averted at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on Monday when a 220-pound rock fell a few feet from a woman praying there.

A woman was praying on a special platform built for Orthodox and other Jews, where men and women are allowed to pray, near a part of the wall called Robinson’s Arch.

“I didn’t hear or feel anything until it landed right at my feet, ” said Daniella Goldberg, 79 told the Times of Israel.

She told Hadashot TV news she “tried not to let the incident distract me from my prayers” and refused to be drawn on whether divine providence had spared her, the Times reported.

“May we all be blessed,” she said.  

The day before was the fast of Tisha B’Av, one of the busiest days at the site. Tens of thousands of people had filled the plaza facing the wall, and countless worshippers had prayed on the spot where the stone fell.    

Yitzhar Hess, head of the religiously conservative Masorti Movement, described the incident on Twitter as “a wake-up call.”

“We must check the entire Western Wall, both parts, so that heaven forbid there is no disaster in the future,” he said, adding that the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) was investigating the incident.

A picture taken on July 23, 2018 shows the massive stone block that dislodged from the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest worship site, falling down onto an egalitarian prayer platform in the Old City of Jerusalem. (Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 23, 2018, shows the massive stone block that dislodged from the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest worship site, falling down onto an egalitarian prayer platform in the Old City of Jerusalem. (Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images)

“With the help of advanced technological methods, IAA experts will begin careful monitoring in the area of the fall, as part of a survey of the entire area and the formulations of recommendations for the elimination of such danger,” the IAA said in a statement.

“The Israel Antiquities Authority is aware of the sensitivity required in handling this case and will work in cooperation with all the relevant bodies.”

The last incident of a boulder falling from the Western Wall occurred on Yom Kippur in 2004. One worshiper was slightly injured falling.

Jewish priests wearing 'Talit' (prayer shawls) and civilians take part in the Cohanim prayer (priest's blessing) during the Passover (Pesach) holiday at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, on April 2, 2018. (Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)
Jewish priests wearing ‘Talit’ (prayer shawls) and civilians take part in the Cohanim prayer (priest’s blessing) during the Passover (Pesach) holiday at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, on April 2, 2018. (Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

Danger Zone

Zachi Dvira, an archeological expert who is completing a PhD on the structure of the Temple Mount, said Monday afternoon that the entire Western Wall was a “danger zone,” the Times reported.

He said that more rocks could fall at any time.

A study completed in 2014 reached a similar conclusion.

Some of the stones in the wall are a fine-grained limestone which erodes rapidly in water, said Dr. Simon Emmanuel, who conducted the study with doctoral student Yael Levenson from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The study was published in the July 2014 edition of the scientific journal Geology.

Huge chunks of rock (yellow arrow) break loose from the Western Wall in Jerusalem. (@yizhar_hess/Twitter screenshot)
Huge chunks of rock (yellow arrow) break loose from the Western Wall in Jerusalem. (@yizhar_hess/Twitter screenshot)

“Rainwater gets into the stones and causes dissolution,” Dr. Simon Emmanuel explained to the Times in 2014. “It’s similar to what happens to a sugar cube when it’s dunked in coffee.”

“The stones that are made of finer crystals fall apart much more easily.”

Researchers reading the study suggested that the wall might need to be treated with some kind of binding or sealing agent.

Israeli nationalist settlers wave their national flags at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on May 13, 2018, as they celebrate Jerusalem Day, a celebration of the 'reunification' of the city following the 1967 Six-Day War. (Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli nationalist settlers wave their national flags at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 13, 2018, as they celebrate Jerusalem Day, a celebration of the ‘reunification’ of the city following the 1967 Six-Day War. (Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

Very Old and Very Holy

The Western Wall, also called the Wailing Wall, dates back more than 2,000 years. It is the only portion of the main temple complex in Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, which is accessible to Jews. It is considered to be the holiest site where Jews are permitted to pray.

Temple Mount itself is closed to Jews, as it is also considered by Muslims to be a holy place—the place where their prophet, Muhammad, spent the night before ascending to Heaven.

Called the Western Wall, the Wailing Wall, or Kotel, the 60-foot-high, 160-foot-long stretch of stacked limestone blocks is a gathering place for the Jewish faithful at all times, and is packed with worshippers on Jewish holy days.

The wall is the only surviving remnant of the Second Temple of Jerusalem, which was razed by Roman occupiers in 70 CE.   

From NTD.tv

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