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Lds Temples And The Western Wall


volgadon

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On another thread there were some claims that Jewish rituals at the Western (or Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem closely match LDS temple rituals. These claims intrigued me, mainly because I've actually participated in prayers at the Western Wall a few times.

At the outset I will say that any detailed discussion of LDS temple rituals will meet with zero tolerance and be promptly removed. Generalities are alright and are enough for this post to be understood. I had addressed the claims on that thread but have since been expanding them. It would be imprudent to use these comparisons as evidence for the antiquity of LDS temple rituals. Unfounded claims do more harm than good. At the very least it means that few would take LDS seriously.

These posts will eventually be on my blog as well, but I am posting them here first in hopes of discussion.

Claim: At the Western Wall, Jews recieve a new name.

Answer: This must be a ritual of such secrecy that none of the participants are even aware of receiving a new name. I've been there several times and have never recieved a new name nor do I know of anyone who has. If anyone has evidence to the contrary, please let me know.

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188_Ariel400.jpg

On another thread there were some claims that Jewish rituals at the Western (or Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem closely match LDS temple rituals. These claims intrigued me, mainly because I've actually participated in prayers at the Western Wall a few times.

At the outset I will say that any detailed discussion of LDS temple rituals will meet with zero tolerance and be promptly removed. Generalities are alright and are enough for this post to be understood. I had addressed the claims on that thread but have since been expanding them. It would be imprudent to use these comparisons as evidence for the antiquity of LDS temple rituals. Unfounded claims do more harm than good. At the very least it means that few would take LDS seriously.

These posts will eventually be on my blog as well, but I am posting them here first in hopes of discussion.

Claim: At the Western Wall, Jews recieve a new name.

Answer: This must be a ritual of such secrecy that none of the participants are even aware of receiving a new name. I've been there several times and have never recieved a new name nor do I know of anyone who has. If anyone has evidence to the contrary, please let me know.

The closest I've heard is that written prayers are left within the wall, which could possibly include names. But this more like names on the altar. I've never heard the new name ordeal.

The only thing I have pointed to the Western Wall as an example of is the sanctity of the temple in the minds of the Jewish people. The mourning and longing for the temple demonstrated there is humbling and should be a wake up call for us temple-attending Mormons.

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The closest I've heard is that written prayers are left within the wall, which could possibly include names. But this more like names on the altar. I've never heard the new name ordeal.

I'm going to post on the notes in the wall as well, which isn't an ancient practice but a fairly recent one, nor is it confined to the Wall.

The only thing I have pointed to the Western Wall as an example of is the sanctity of the temple in the minds of the Jewish people. The mourning and longing for the temple demonstrated there is humbling and should be a wake up call for us temple-attending Mormons.

Well put. Especially moving is the mourning there on the Ninth of Av. My point though is that Jewish practices there do not match LDS temple rituals.

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I'm going to post on the notes in the wall as well, which isn't an ancient practice but a fairly recent one, nor is it confined to the Wall.

True, true,

My point though is that Jewish practices there do not match LDS temple rituals.

Nope. Sounds like someone grasping at straws.

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Thank you for posting this subject.

Can you add the other claims? And just a side note, I am not sure if they received the new name at the wall or at another location. The Old Testament has references so this would be an easy claim to believe that this practice is still being performed.

And like I said before, these claims are being propagated on that LDS tour in Israel that you know of.

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Thank you for posting this subject.

Can you add the other claims?

I'm doing so. I'm adding a lot more information than what I posted earlier.

And just a side note, I am not sure if they received the new name at the wall or at another location. The Old Testament has references so this would be an easy claim to believe that this practice is still being performed.

I don't know of anywhere where they recieve a new name.

And like I said before, these claims are being propagated on that LDS tour in Israel that you know of.

Of course, but this isn't personal, this is business.

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Claim: At the Western Wall, there is a certain number of knocks at a certain place.

Answer: Never seen this either.

There is a Jewish magical text from late antiquity, The Chapter of R. Nehuniah b. ha-Qanah, which describes how R. Nehuniah took R. Ishmael to a certain place and pronounced a holy name which summoned an angel known as the Prince of the Torah. This angel then imparted knowledge which enabled R. Ishmael never to forget anything learned in his Torah studies.

The setting of this ritual was not the Western Wall but the Chamber of Hewed Stone (Lishkat ha-Gazit), a building in the temple complex which served as the seat of the Sanhedrin.

As even the Chapter of R. Nehuniah shows, this ritual was private and required a good deal of ascetic preparation before it could be carried out. An example can be found in the legend of the Baal Shem Tov and R. Adam's son. In order to summon the Prince of the Torah they fast from Sabbath to Sabbath in their private house of study deep in the woods and frequently immerse themselves in water for purposes of ritual purification.

If this magical ritual is still practiced today then it is done so in private places of study, not out under public scrutiny.

What takes place at the Western Wall is not a unique ritual or rituals. People go there first and foremost to pray.

Regular prayers are said there at their set times, just like they would be done at any synagogue. In addition, people recite some of the psalms. This is usually down to personal preference and different community practices. In the 19th century there were even groups of beggars who joined together to recite psalms all day at the Wall. It is also the natural place for communal lament on the Ninth of Av, which is the traditional anniversary of the temple's destruction. The Book of Lamentations is recited. An old Jerusalemite legend has it that the place itself weeps. A white dove appears, spreads her wings and weeps. Dew covers the stones, which is said to be their tears. On that evening a terrible groan is made by the site of the temple itself, which none but the completely righteous can hear.

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IIRC, the Tour was Daniel Rona's company (don't know if the guide was Daniel Rona himself. Besides the tours, he has some free online material and some publications here: http://www.danielron...ublications.htm

You may be able to find something that is related to the claims, I don't have time to search the online material right now myself available here: http://www.danielron...ries/index.html

Okay, I lied...did find this on "new name":

(2.) New Name:

-------------------------------------------

It is a common practice among religious Jews that a special Hebrew name is given to the newborn child. It is an additional name to the one the person is usually known by. A girl receives her name at birth and the boy at eight days of age, at the circumcision. Conversion to Judaism is always accompanied by giving a new name. Often the `new' or `special' name is used when blessings are given for health, at marriages and at other festive occasions.

http://www.danielron...reminder-07.htm

(dog is barking and whining so who can take a nap?)

(7.) KNOCK BEFORE YOU ENTER THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD:

---------------------------------------------------------------------

At the Western (Wailing) Wall, I observed a grandfather keeping his Bar Mitzvah grandson from retrieving the Torah Scroll out of the "Ark" until he had first knocked. The boy questioned the "knocking" procedure. The only explanation that his grandfather would give was that inside the Ark, behind the curtain, represented the "Presence of God." The scrolls were "His Word," and it was only polite to knock before entering. Inside the Ark were several Torah scrolls draped with beautiful cloths or enclosed in beautiful containers. Retrieving them is often accompanied by a gentle kiss and a prayer utterance.

http://www.danielrona.info/supplements/bm-insights/bm-reminder-08.htm

(3.) “Knocking” and Curtains:

------------------------------------------------------------------------

At the Western (Wailing) Wall, young Bar Mitzvah lads, anxious to open the ark to retrieve the scroll will be told, “Be polite; first you knock, then pull the curtain aside and then you take the scroll.” The center of the Lord’s house (or city) was curtained because of its sacredness, a courtyard where we could converse with the Lord. We long for the time when we can “dwell in thy courts” (Psalm 65:4), and be “shielded,” safe from the imbalance of the world around us. (Psalm 84).

http://www.danielrona.info/supplements/dc-insights/dc-reminder-18.htm
The Lord’s house is where his glory and honor dwells, (Psalms 26:8). The ark holding the torah scroll is a reminder of the ark in the temple that held the tablets, the word of the Lord. Once, as I was leading my guest to the Western (Wailing) Wall, I observed a young Bar Mitzvah lad anxious to open the ark to retrieve the scroll so he could get on with his presentation to the congregation. His grandfather stopped him and said, "Inside represents the essence and the presence of the Lord, be polite, first you knock, then pull the curtain aside and then you take the scroll."
http://www.danielrona.info/supplements/ot-complete-online/studies44.htm
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IIRC, the Tour was Daniel Rona's company (don't know if the guide was Daniel Rona himself. Besides the tours, he has some free online material and some publications here: http://www.danielron...ublications.htm

You may be able to find something that is related to the claims, I don't have time to search the online material right now myself available here: http://www.danielron...ries/index.html

Okay, I lied...did find this on "new name":

http://www.danielron...reminder-07.htm

(dog is barking and whining so who can take a nap?)

http://www.danielron...reminder-08.htm

http://www.danielron...reminder-18.htm

http://www.danielron...e/studies44.htm

Excellent find. Sounds like what my friends were told while in Israel.

So are these claims validated or are they made up, misunderstood, sensationalized or what?

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I didn't find anything by searching on site:danielrona with terms "robe" and "shoulder" (this only comes up once in an unrelated text), but did find this when limiting it to "robe":

3.) Yesterday's Temple Practices Recognized Through Restoration:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In the Old Testament Supplemental Manual, we have previously discussed temple symbols in Jewish worship such as clothing, robe (Talith or Prayer shawl with four markings - sets of strings that denote the commandments), sash, apron (Levites wear them), shoes removed, and men separated from women -- all in a special worship

environment.

http://danielrona.info/supplements/nt-insights/reminder02.htm

This page has several things related to temple worship: http://www.danielrona.info/supplements/nt-insights/reminder34.htm

Couldn't come up with anything that related the Wall to the Veil.

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Okay, in wandering around the site (who needs a nap, really?) I found this comment about the Lehi Cave:

(4.) "LEHI" CAVE CLOSE TO JERUSALEM:

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A display in the Israel Museum of Jerusalem shows artifacts from a cave some twenty-three miles southwest of Jerusalem in an area known as Lhi (Lahi or Lehi). They are dated to six hundred years before Jesus’ time and seem to connect to Lehi’s family departing the area of Jerusalem. The oldest-known writing of the name Jerusalem and the spelling out of the name Jehovah appears in this cave.

http://www.danielrona.info/supplements/bm-insights/bm-reminder-02.htm

At least he said "seem".

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Okay, I lied...did find this on "new name":

Quote

(2.) New Name:

-------------------------------------------

It is a common practice among religious Jews that a special Hebrew name is given to the newborn child. It is an additional name to the one the person is usually known by. A girl receives her name at birth and the boy at eight days of age, at the circumcision. Conversion to Judaism is always accompanied by giving a new name. Often the `new' or `special' name is used when blessings are given for health, at marriages and at other festive occasions.

http://www.danielron...reminder-07.htm

Thanks, Calmoriah, for finding that. "Conversion to Judaism is always accompanied by giving a new name" is baloney. I don't know how else to put it. There is actually no halachic requirement for receiving a Hebrew, or different name. This is an overwhelmingly popular custom, but not a requirement. When one joins a distinct people, one attempts to fit in. Social rather than ritual.

As for newborns recieving names, these are not "new" names. These are their formal, official names, regardless of whether or not they are popularly known by a different one. For example, officially, I am Allen, yet in Israel I go by Alon (which actually should have been the other way round were it not for a beaurocratic mix-up). Not all Jews gave their children two sets of names. If the child was born on a Sabbath then he was usually names Shabbetai, if on Passover then Pesach, and Hannukah for that holiday, or Yom-Tov for others. Jews in Arab lands merely used the Arabic equivalent of their name. Moshe was Musa, Obadiah was Abdullah, Shlomo was Suleiman and Abraham was Ibrahim. Even among Ashkenazi Jews the most popular names combined Yiddish and Hebrew. Dov Baer, Zeev Wolf, and Yuda Leib. People with these names did not receive additional ones. Two entirely different names were most commonly found among the Anusim (Marranos), who pretended to be Christian (or in the case of Meshhed and 18th c. Daghestan, Muslim) yet kept their Jewish identity. It is only natural that they would give the child a Jewish name. Later on in Europe and America there was extensive assimilation, which led to similar results in naming practices.

The reason that the Hebrew name is used at marriages and other festive occasions is that it is the actual name, not a nickname. None of this is ritual, nor does it have anything to do with the temple or Western Wall.

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I hope this isn't too far off topic, but the first time I went through the temple after I got my great kilt, I was struck by the similarities.

There are some symbols that just 'make sense', archetypes in other words, so I would assume that there are similarities in many, many cultures that share common human behaviours and concepts. Not knowing the similarities, it's hard to tell if it goes beyond common shared cultural concepts.

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There are some symbols that just 'make sense', archetypes in other words, so I would assume that there are similarities in many, many cultures that share common human behaviours and concepts. Not knowing the similarities, it's hard to tell if it goes beyond common shared cultural concepts.

I don't claim to know of any real world connection, but for me, it was...magical. Looking back on it now, it was one of my first lessons in magical correspondences. They don't have to make sense in real world terms, as long as it "works" for you. Magic is all about altered states of consciousness and such correspondences can be a powerful method of achieving those shifts. Whoa, I just learned something new about magic. Thanks, Cal.

Edit to add: ok, derail over. I'm not talking about that on this thread any more.

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Excellent find. Sounds like what my friends were told while in Israel.

So are these claims validated or are they made up, misunderstood, sensationalized or what?

Mostly the latter two options.

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Quote

(7.) KNOCK BEFORE YOU ENTER THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD:

---------------------------------------------------------------------

At the Western (Wailing) Wall, I observed a grandfather keeping his Bar Mitzvah grandson from retrieving the Torah Scroll out of the "Ark" until he had first knocked. The boy questioned the "knocking" procedure. The only explanation that his grandfather would give was that inside the Ark, behind the curtain, represented the "Presence of God." The scrolls were "His Word," and it was only polite to knock before entering. Inside the Ark were several Torah scrolls draped with beautiful cloths or enclosed in beautiful containers. Retrieving them is often accompanied by a gentle kiss and a prayer utterance.

http://www.danielron...reminder-08.htm

Quote

(3.) “Knocking” and Curtains:

------------------------------------------------------------------------

At the Western (Wailing) Wall, young Bar Mitzvah lads, anxious to open the ark to retrieve the scroll will be told, “Be polite; first you knock, then pull the curtain aside and then you take the scroll.” The center of the Lord’s house (or city) was curtained because of its sacredness, a courtyard where we could converse with the Lord. We long for the time when we can “dwell in thy courts” (Psalm 65:4), and be “shielded,” safe from the imbalance of the world around us. (Psalm 84).

http://www.danielron...reminder-18.htm

Quote

The Lord’s house is where his glory and honor dwells, (Psalms 26:. The ark holding the torah scroll is a reminder of the ark in the temple that held the tablets, the word of the Lord. Once, as I was leading my guest to the Western (Wailing) Wall, I observed a young Bar Mitzvah lad anxious to open the ark to retrieve the scroll so he could get on with his presentation to the congregation. His grandfather stopped him and said, "Inside represents the essence and the presence of the Lord, be polite, first you knock, then pull the curtain aside and then you take the scroll."

http://www.danielron...e/studies44.htm

It sounds like a habit unique to that grandfather. I've never seen it myself, nor heard of such from my friends and neighbours who put their phylacteries on for the first time at the Western Wall. This also isn't done in synagogues when the scrolls are taken out to be read from. To that must be added that Bar Mitzvahs at the Wall are a fairly new practice. I couldn't find an exact date for when they began to be held there, but it could have been no earlier than 1967-68. The Wall was in Jordanians hands before that. Prior to Jordanian rule it was under Turkish and British rule. Bringing in benches or setting up a partition between men and women was considered a violation of the status quo, so you can see that a Bar Mitzvah would not have been tolerated. It is also worth mentioning that Bar Mitzvah celebrations are a fairly recent developement as well. It used to be that only the Ashkenazi Jews would hold a big celebration. The Yemenite Jews, for example, did not hold a celebration at all.

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It sounds like a habit unique to that grandfather. I've never seen it myself, nor heard of such from my friends and neighbours who put their phylacteries on for the first time at the Western Wall. This also isn't done in synagogues when the scrolls are taken out to be read from. To that must be added that Bar Mitzvahs at the Wall are a fairly new practice. I couldn't find an exact date for when they began to be held there, but it could have been no earlier than 1967-68. The Wall was in Jordanians hands before that. Prior to Jordanian rule it was under Turkish and British rule. Bringing in benches or setting up a partition between men and women was considered a violation of the status quo, so you can see that a Bar Mitzvah would not have been tolerated. It is also worth mentioning that Bar Mitzvah celebrations are a fairly recent developement as well. It used to be that only the Ashkenazi Jews would hold a big celebration. The Yemenite Jews, for example, did not hold a celebration at all.

I agree with Volgadon. I've been to the Kotel many times, and seen lots of different activities, and have never seen anything like this. I suspect its a private practice of some old fellow, then sensationalized a bit in the telling. There's lots of idiosyncratic things that Jews do there, just like any other religious group.

The most interesting thing I've seen was a Tzadiq in ecstatic prayer. He was dressed in tattered robes, had a big beard and a large knitted kippah. He was rocking back and forth (davening), eyes closed, face wrinkled as he chanted a rapid stream of ecstatic speech. I don't understand spoken Hebrew well enough to understand what he was saying, but it wasn't standard Jewish prayer. There was a big crowd of people around him listening to him. I talked with some Haredim who said he was a mystical prophet who wandered around the country healing, blessing and prophesying. He was definitely an old school mystic. I saw him there on several Fridays, always with a crowd listening to his chanting.

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I hope this isn't too far off topic, but the first time I went through the temple after I got my great kilt, I was struck by the similarities.

Wow.

Was that your interpretation or some "kilt lore"? (forgive the terminology- if I messed up- I am totally ignorant here...)

I can see how it would relate....

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I don't claim to know of any real world connection, but for me, it was...magical. Looking back on it now, it was one of my first lessons in magical correspondences. They don't have to make sense in real world terms, as long as it "works" for you. Magic is all about altered states of consciousness and such correspondences can be a powerful method of achieving those shifts. Whoa, I just learned something new about magic. Thanks, Cal.

Edit to add: ok, derail over. I'm not talking about that on this thread any more.

Ok - got it- no problem!

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I don't claim to know of any real world connection, but for me, it was...magical. Looking back on it now, it was one of my first lessons in magical correspondences. They don't have to make sense in real world terms, as long as it "works" for you. Magic is all about altered states of consciousness and such correspondences can be a powerful method of achieving those shifts. Whoa, I just learned something new about magic. Thanks, Cal.

Edit to add: ok, derail over. I'm not talking about that on this thread any more.

Since the Don said we could derail, just got to mention something that mf posted in another thread to make sure you caught it.

Describing Dewey's perception of science, art, etc....and don't forget the 'religion is art' premise so this is speaking about religion among other things...

[A]rtistic acts are both inevitable and spontaneous. Unexpected combination is required for art: order and proportion are not the whole story. The more extensive the uniformities of nature in art, the greater the art, as long as they are fused with our wonder for the new.....
Now going back to your comment about magical correspondences...
They don't have to make sense in real world terms, as long as it "works" for you. Magic is all about altered states of consciousness and such correspondences can be a powerful method of achieving those shifts.

Seems to me we are talking about the same sort of thing here.

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Since the Don said we could derail, just got to mention something that mf posted in another thread to make sure you caught it.

Describing Dewey's perception of science, art, etc....and don't forget the 'religion is art' premise so this is speaking about religion among other things...

Now going back to your comment about magical correspondences...

Seems to me we are talking about the same sort of thing here.

Thanks again. I'm planning a response. It reminded me of something I learned from Isaac Bonewits. I'll probably get it tomorrow.

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Since the Don said we could derail, just got to mention something that mf posted in another thread to make sure you caught it.

Describing Dewey's perception of science, art, etc....and don't forget the 'religion is art' premise so this is speaking about religion among other things...

Now going back to your comment about magical correspondences...

Seems to me we are talking about the same sort of thing here.

No question.

That's why I have no problem with all these guys talking about "magical thinking". If it isn't magical, it isn't thinking! Thinking itself is a creative process through which we put order into "matter unorganized".

I don't know what is more "magical" than that! It's what God himself does!

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