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Former good articleWestern Wall was one of the Geography and places good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
October 10, 2008Good article nomineeListed
January 14, 2024Good article reassessmentDelisted
Current status: Delisted good article

GA Reassessment[edit]

Western Wall[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Article (edit | visual edit | history) · Article talk (edit | history) · WatchWatch article reassessment pageMost recent review
Result: Sourcing issues, involving uncited material, verifiability concerns, and dubious references, remain. ~~ AirshipJungleman29 (talk) 16:29, 14 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]

This 2007 listing has quite a few issues:

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Why "undue weight" tag for Leibowitz?[edit]

His opinion is a) very well known and often quoted, and b) at least as relevant as Mr. Reiter's take on the Islamic Movement in Israel, and indeed the IM itself, although I believe Reiter referred to Raed Salah and his radical Northern Branch and less so to people like Mansour Abbas.

May I remove the tag?

PS: has the previous discussion been archived? Why and where to? Arminden (talk) 03:48, 2 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Does there need to be a standalone ideological views section at all? Most of this material relates to views among religious groups and is duplicative of the existing sections based on religion that include views pertaining to those religions. I can see it being better folded into those other sections. Iskandar323 (talk) 06:33, 3 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]
It's outsized compared to the Mainsteam subsections that precedes it. Please take a look at the change I've made, trimming the unnecessary detail. Alaexis¿question? 13:49, 8 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]


Just a quick look at the article reveals some interesting bias. The Arabic name of the western wall is removed from the opening sentence, and is placed afterwards with a "in Islam", as if Arab Jews for example had no name for this wall for centuries, and without consideration of the fact that this site is located in East Jerusalem, which is part of the Israeli occupied West Bank. East Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the article. Also interesting how Jordan occupied EJ but Israel controlled it. Not sure what RS say about Jewish population leaving in 1948, but I am pretty sure the mayor signing a surrender agreement and moved the Jews out of the quarter. Not sure how that explicitly qualifies as "expulsion". Makeandtoss (talk) 13:08, 23 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]

I doubt that Arab-speaking Jews referred to the Western Wall as Al-Buraq Wall, do you have sources for that?
As to the surrender of the Jewish Quarter, this is quite similar to the surrender of Jaffa which happened earlier that month. Does it mean that the expulsion of Arabs from there also doesn't qualify? Alaexis¿question? 10:57, 24 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Religion In Infobox[edit]

I believe the article's infobox should be changed to that of a Holy Site, much like the Dome of the Rock's page. How come on there, it's listed as Holy Site in Islam, but the holiest site in Judaism is not listed as such? This seems quite one sided, especially considering the two sites are just metres away from each other. Theirishisraeli (talk) 21:55, 9 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]

History as Place of Worship Citation[edit]

An English translation of the Scroll of Ahimaaz with historical commentary by Robert Bonfil is available at ISBN 978-90-47-42731-5, from Studies in Jewish History and Culture, Volume 22. NuanceQueen (talk) 03:57, 15 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Extended-confirmed-protected edit request on 20 February 2024[edit]

Update "U.S. President Donald Trump" to "Former U.S. President Donald Trump" Maxjd1 (talk) 02:59, 20 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]

 Note: I think this may fall under MOS:PERSONOROFFICE. Shadow311 (talk) 16:08, 20 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]
 Not done for now: Per MOS:PERSONOROFFICE, saying Former U.S. President Donald Trump is unnecessary unless context requires it. NW1223<Howl at meMy hunts> 21:46, 21 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]

“The earliest source mentioning this specific site as a place of Jewish worship is from the 17th century”[edit]

So, why does the lede say that the earliest sources mentioning Jews pray at the Wall comes from the 17th century, when the section literally entitled “History as place of prayer” begins with sources in the 11th century??

Likewise, both sources for this statement explicitly state that the site’s status as a place of worship is cited since the tenth century. Sinclairian (talk) 17:47, 30 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Pls see below. Arminden (talk) 20:33, 30 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The sources which were used to cite the statement do not reflect the wordage or even intent which you have conveyed in the latter discussion. As such, even if you were entirely correct, this is still a violation of RS.
Furthermore - the article heretofore does not even mention Warren’s Gate or the access tunnel. The statement about the earliest sources have nothing to do with them, it is explicitly clarified it is the site as a whole. Sinclairian (talk) 20:45, 30 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Sorry, I honestly don't understand what you're saying.
Let's pls continue at the next section if you don't mind.
In any case, as I wrote there, the 2 refs totally contradict each other (you wrote that they both support the 10th c. date; I don't see that at all), one cannot use both to prove anything, and neither of them is RS. Arminden (talk) 21:19, 30 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Big confusion, AGAIN, betw. short & long W Wall[edit]

In Judaism -> History as place of prayer -> 11th–12th centuries

Two sources are quoted: the Scroll of Ahimaaz, which speaks of a "synagogue", and B. of Tudela, who speaks of a gate ("of mercy"). Today this is considered to be one and the same, namely "the cave", a synagogue (as per Cairo Genizah docs, see here) built at "Warren's Gate". This, however, is NOT the Wailing/Western Wall sensu strictu, i.e. the short open-air stretch that remains since the Mamluks blocked access to the rest of the "long wall" by erecting a platform along most of it and building houses on top. Arminden (talk) 20:32, 30 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]

To Sinclairian:
  • One source, R. Goren, clearly writes in 1994 that Jews can't claim the Wall/Kotel, since the tradition there is "only" 3 centuries old. 20-3=17, so 17th c. (All as per ref, p. 300).
  • The 1930 report is dated. It must be checked if the very vaguely worded one-sentence reference to 10th- and 11th-century Jewish sources A) really relates to the Western Wall, B) if so, the "long wall", "the cave" synagogue (see above), or the "short wall" (Wailing Wall/Kotel). The commission collected arguments from the two parties, this sentence being based on what was presented by "the Jewish Side".
So first, the two sources contradict each other. Second, Gonen has an agenda, of moving the prayer site to the N and S extensions of the Herodian Temple Mt platform. Third, the passage in the 1930 report is vague, based on Jewish testimonies, and outdated - a valuable time document, but not a RS regarding what science says today.
So yes, the 2 sources cannot be used together to support the C17 date, but beyond that, I don't understand what you mean. Arminden (talk) 20:49, 30 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
To keep it easy: Goren is straightforward, so here is the 1930 passage for easy access:
"There are several Jewish authors of the 10th and 11th centuries, e.g., Ben Meir, Rabbi Samuel ben Paltiel, Solomon ben Judah, and others, who write about the Jews repairing [returning, habitually coming in numbers] to the Wailing Wall for devotional purposes, also under the Arab domination. A nameless Christian Pilgrim of the 11th century testifies to a continuance of the practice of the Jews coming to Jerusalem annually.
"The Arab domination was interrupted by the arrival of the Crusaders who conquered Jerusalem in 1099. The Crusaders at first treated the Jews badly, but afterwards became more tolerant. Benjamin of Tudela says (1167) that during the later Crusader Period the Wailing Wall was a place of constant prayer."
So we have:
  • C10 & 11: Ben Meir, Rabbi Samuel ben Paltiel, Solomon ben Judah, and others: Jews regularly coming "to the Wailing Wall" for religious devotions. Question: is the identification still accepted? I would argue: no. What terms did they use? Most certainly not Wailing Wall.
  • C11 nameless Christian Pilgrim: can be discarded, only mentions Jews coming to Jerusalem, not to the W Wall.
  • Benjamin of Tudela (1167, Crusader period): "the Wailing Wall was a place of constant prayer" - again, A) Identification still accepted? B) What term does he use?
Arminden (talk) 21:59, 30 April 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The problem is caused by modern authors who like to interpret old sources that mention Jews worshipping in Jerusalem as worship at the Western Wall even when the original doesn't identify the exact location. Even when the words "western wall" are mentioned (Paltiel for example) it might refer to the original wall of the temple and not the Herodian retaining wall, but many modern authors like to capitalise it as Western Wall without proof of identity. Of course it is perfectly possible that the Western Wall was an early site of Jewish worship but finding a scholarly rather than propagandistic analysis of the evidence is difficult. During the disputes over the wall in the mandate period both sides produced reams of nonsense that were unfortunately not thrown in the bin afterwards. The name "Wailing Wall" is apparently unknown from before the 19th century. Zerotalk 04:07, 1 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks Zero0000, that's what serious Israeli researchers are saying too, so it's not some "anti" opinion. But unless it can be supported point by point with RS, we'll be back at this point every few months. Similarly the tethering site of Buraq "moved" around the Mount throughout history to, I believe, every single side of it.
There is an Arabic name translating more or less to "Wall of Crying", of which I'm not sure how old it is and probably predated the English "place of wailing of the Jews". I think it was mentioned, but seems to have been edited out. Arminden (talk) 08:56, 1 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I have a good source on the origin of "Wailing Wall" and also of the related Arabic name, but I haven't yet got my act together to add it. There is no evidence on which of the Arabic name or the European name predated the other. Zerotalk 09:45, 1 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I can identify each of these sources:
  • "Ben Meir" is Aaron ben Meïr (btw the diaresis in that title is against policy and should be removed IMO). He does not mention any "western wall" by name, and the quote is as follows (letter to the Babylonian academy, 922 CE): "We have not forgotten you, and you are ever in our prayers, as are your dear elders—[the prayers which we offer] on the Mount of Olives opposite the Temple Mount, the place where God rests his feet, and by the Gate of the Priest (! site unknown), and by the gates of the Temple, when all Israel gathers to celebrate the holiday of Sukkot. And when the assembled Israel hears us praise you, they celebrate and rejoice and make merry at the peace which God has made between us." The full letter may be seen here.
  • "Samuel ben Paltiel" refers to the passage from Ahimaaz now block-quoted on the page.
  • "Solomon ben Judah" is Solomon ben Judah al-Fasi (d. 1051). This gaon of Jerusalem signed, and probably wrote, a heavily poetic letter to "Sahlan ben Abraham," a preacher, which does not mention the western wall. He says: ". . . you told [the Egyptian Jews] to help their poor brethren at every opportunity, and you told them eloquently of the suffering and terrible burden and heavy yoke which is now borne by the Jews who live in [Jerusalem], for as residents of the city they are required to pay the heavy taxes of her citizens, but they do this in order that the Muslims do not harm those Jewish pilgrims who come to give pleasure to her stones and ashes, and to circle the gates of the temple, and pray by them loudly . . ." The full letter may be read here.
GordonGlottal (talk) 03:57, 2 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks, this is quite fascinating. We should definitely use some of this information in the article, without engaging in WP:OR, obviously. I agree that some authors get carried away and read more into sources than what they actually say. Having said that, we should also be wary of the opposite extreme of denying the connection just because we don't know where exactly these 10-12 century Jews prayed.
Btw, isn't the Gate of the Priest the same thing as the Golden Gate, through which the high priest entered the Temple? Alaexis¿question? 21:25, 2 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]


Hi GordonGlottal, and thanks for the added material. Just a question: the Adolf Neubauer book has a German title, but contains Karaite documents, and I don't know what languages those might be in. What is "language=iw" supposed to mean? The template can't figure it out either, so it's not just me :) Thanks, Arminden (talk) 02:56, 1 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Hi, "iw" is for whatever reason what the wiki cite tool autofills when a Google Books page is in Hebrew. Maybe it refers to "Ivrit" in some other code system? In any case, usually I remember to replace it but I forgot. The particular text that I was citing is in Judaeo-Arabic but we don't have a code for that and other texts in the same book are Hebrew, so I'll replace it with "he". GordonGlottal (talk) 18:13, 1 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Too hard to follow[edit]

Thank you for the very interesting edits!

Being pedantic, I'd like to sort out a few things now, though. You assume a lot of knowledge from the Wiki user and editor alike and perform some thought acrobatics where I can't follow you at all. Plus the Hebrew.

  • Gate of Jehoshaphat: did he mean the eastern gate? (Kidron Valley - Jehoshaphat Valley - so to the east, so today it would be Golden Gate). But traditions change, so maybe he meant smth else. Or did he mean the inner Beautiful Gate (to Women's Court), or even Nicanor's Gate (to Court of the Israelites)? As it is now, unexplained, it's just confusing.
  • Tudela: does he really write Templi Domini, in the plural, not Templum Domini? Because of Al-Aqsa = Templum Solomonis, so 2 templi?
  • Does he really write Khataab, not Khattab?
  • Could you pls translate the Hebrew text, in its literal meaning, or transliterate it like you did with other terms, like azara?
  • "...Gate of Mercy was once known as the "western wall"" Means what? And are you sure that capital letters are required, given what you wrote in the note? Given that, maybe "Gate of Mercy/gate of mercy"? It is confusing in many ways:
    • What exactly are you saying was once known as the "western wall"?
    • Think of Bab er-Rahman, lit. 'Gate of Mercy' (one of the 2 parts of the Golden Gate; is in the E of the Mount, so no way can it can be seen as "western wall")
    • Maybe it refers to Warren's Gate?
  • Al-Biruni: what could he have possibly meant by "the harhara of Jerusalem"? How is it relevant, is harhara related to azara?
  • Geniza letter: what could he have possibly meant by "the azara"?

And there was more... Arminden (talk) 23:10, 1 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

  • The "Gate of Jehoshaphat" would seem to be the Lions' Gate. In some manuscripts Benjamin later describes "And one goes out the Gate of Jehoshaphat to the Valley of Jehoshaphat." However, I don't know of any other references to the gate by this name, and I don't know that it can be certainly identified even if the reference to the Valley is accepted as legitimate. Benjamin says "Jerusalem has four gates: Abram's Gate, David's Gate, Zion's Gate, and Gushpat's Gate which is Jehoshaphat's Gate, which faced the Temple in ancient times". The name "Gushpat" is completely unknown, but presumably some corruption of Jehoshaphat.
  • He does really say "Templi." I don't know what it implies. He seems to be using the term "templi domini" to refer to the site and not any building on it, because he says that the Dome of the Rock is "built on" the "templi domini". Could it just be a different form of the singular? But also we can't assume that Benjamin was capable of reliably transcribing Latin, let alone his copyists. Manuscript variants include "templo domino" and "templo romano" (tentative vowels).
  • I haven't looked directly at the manuscripts of Benjamin, but if there are detailed vowels on Umar's name in any of them (which wouldn't be particularly expected) the printers have ignored them. The consonantal spelling given is "אל כטאב" in most manuscripts and "אלקטב" in one. I transcribed it with the vowels from Umar's page, which are a perfectly reasonable representation of "אל כטאב", although I suppose "al-Ketaab" or "al-Khattaab" would be just as representative if there was a reason to prefer them.
  • The passage in Benjamin is just very difficult to understand. The sentence "the western wall . . . this is called the gate of mercy" is impossible to square with the later meanings of those terms, which refer to opposite sides of the Temple Mount. Assuming that Benjamin was accurately recording something that made sense (?) one of the two terms must have shifted meaning since. I found attempts to identify each with the other, although I see that I only cited one side -- I will try to retrace the other tomorrow.
  • I don't know what Benjamin or Ahimaaz means by "western wall". I put the block quotes in to try to give the reader as much access to the evidence as possible, because experience in the field doesn't give you much of a head start. I think it would be misleading to imply that anyone knows or even has more evidence than what sits in front of you on the page.
  • If you look at the JQR source, Alfred Guillaume understands "harhara" as "azara", so it's not my identification. I looked around to see if anyone had proposed anything else and I didn't get any hits. Presumably it's not an Arabic word or Sachau would have been able to translate it. An Arabic specialist may be able to find out more.
  • I don't know for sure what it means, and neither does Guillaume, who leaves it untranslated. But it may provide a clue to what Benjamin means by the same term. Ariel says that both must refer to the whole mount, as does Moshe Kliers in a book called The Temple and its Sacrifices [Hebrew] (1970), p. 172. I think others with the same interpretation came up when I searched.
GordonGlottal (talk) 04:57, 2 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I couldn't find a scholarly opinion on "Gate of Guspat", but I have a non-scholarly guess. Both before and after Benjamin's time, Arab writers listed one of the gates as "Bāb al-Asbāṭ" (Gate of the tribes [of Israel]). According to both Wilson's and Burgoyne's compilations, some authors used it for the gate still known as Asbat, and some used it for the Hitta gate. Someone could mishear Asbat as Guspat across languages. Zerotalk 08:23, 2 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I see citations to medieval Arab writers calling it "Gate of the tribes" but I've read elsewhere that أسباط is a corruption of أسود and "Lions' Gate" is the original. It's possible that "asbat" was misheard as "gushpat", although while b>p is simple a>g is harder to explain so copy error more likely. Maybe it could happen through ayin though, or both could split from ayin. The names were clearly quite unstable so it's messy. GordonGlottal (talk) 15:56, 2 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Realized that أسباط very close to יהושפט, so probably one of those is actually the original and not "Lions' gate". Less confusing if we reject that proposal.
I found another reference to "gate of Jehoshaphat" but I don't read even modern French so would need more eyes -- the Chronique d'Ernoul refers (1187 CE) to a porte de Josaffas which leads to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. See here p. 208. Followed a reference to this from the gbooks preview of this book, there may be more in the notes there if someone has access to a full copy. GordonGlottal (talk) 18:02, 2 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Just read a discussion of names changing after the 1033 earthquake and reconstruction, which makes identification impossible (Prawer). He considered it a fruitless attempt, too much inconsistency, even use of same name for different features. So one set of names pre-1033, a whole jungle of names after that. Arminden (talk) 20:15, 2 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Thank you so much! I would have never reached by myself this deep into the sources. However, there are two related problems here: except for a few editors, nobody will get to read your explanations here, and what's presented to all in the article is ein Buch mit sieben Siegeln, beyond comprehension for the vast majority of users who are coming to Wikipedia for answers. I'd say that every word of it belongs in the notes, the extant edits and your clarifications together, but in the body of the article we should ideally have that Jewish authors A, B, C from the 10th-12th c. have left writings on the subject, which all use names and terms whose meaning has been irreversibly lost, was often allegorical to start with, or has been corrupted by copyists to a degree where they seem either contradictory or incomprehensible.
Moshe Gil in 1982 ("The Jewish Quarters ... 638-1099 According to Cairo Geniza Documents...") didn't seem to be aware of the interpretation of Warren's Gate as "the cave" (the 10th-c. synagogue), but he already writes much more clearly and well-documented about this historical house of worship and suggests it might have been in the space behind Barclay's Gate. (The Tunnels with Warren's Gate were still under excavation.) He seems to suggest that the Gate of the Priests was there somewhere, but I didn't read carefully: there was a lower gate (Warren's Gate), which he doesn't seem to know about, and another one slightly south of it and at a higher level, at the end of the great viaduct-cum-aqueduct carried by Wilson's Arch, so basically Chain Gate (Bab as-Silsila), which he probably has in mind. This is indeed now widely accepted as a gate used by priests residing in the Upper City. Anyway, Warren's Gate as "the cave" makes perfect sense. Which for our purpose means: yes Jewish place of prayer along the outer western wall, but closer to the Foundation Stone, north of the later "Wailing Wall". And it was taken out of use for good in 1099, unless we manage to better understand Benjamin of Tudela - which wouldn't change much the bigger picture either. Once the Mamluks build the platform and raise the construction level in the Central Valley along the wall, there are only the haram gates left, but they belong to the Muslims, and - the "classical" southern section and that tiny "Small Kotel".
That's the logical approach, now let's see if accessible RS present it this way and then place it in the text, with your wonderful, comprehensive explanations in the notes, as proof for the summary in the body. This would hopefully close the discussion and rise the article to a more acceptable level, away from silly agitprop. Arminden (talk) 12:48, 2 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I think the Warren's Gate proposal specifically is a pretty clear result of bias from availability of data. The only part of the Temple Mount complex that has ever been opened to excavation is the Western Wall plaza, but I presume that, if every other section were dug up, many more previously-unknown chambers and building foundations would be discovered, and some of these would make more sense as prayer spaces. The letter that mentions a cave says "On Monday we gathered in the cave, a great assembly of us, and we brought out Torah scrolls, and we excommunicated all those that give evil declarations and false letters and lies . . ." It's difficult to imagine a "great assembly" gathering for this purpose in the Warren's Gate space (which is tiny), and it sounds like it's describing a court function and not a prayer service. Yitzhak Baer gives other medieval examples of bans declared in caves and other burial places here n. 9, confirmed by Abraham Yaari here who also gives more examples of "cave" being used generically for "burial place". Israel Elfenbein writes that "in the cave" was an idiom for "in public" here p. 258 n. 14, while Jacob Mann says here p. 127-8 that it was chosen for subtlety, but in any case other medieval authors use "cave" in the sense of "burial place" as a location for bans. I think this makes more sense than assuming there was a cave-synagogue in Jerusalem on the basis of the letter.
I agree the final form of the prayer section should present as clearer and less technical, although I think Wiki works best when it finds a way to be both an easy introduction for novices and a convenient collection of previously-dispersed technical info for deeper scholarship. I'll try to work more on this in the coming weeks. GordonGlottal (talk) 20:28, 2 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Thank you. Unfortunately, all links you offered either have subscription walls or, as prohibitively in the case of illiterate me, lead to Hebrew texts. Sorry.
"Cave" being used for "burial place" makes perfect sense. How a burial place would offer more space than Herodian gatehouses doesn't make sense to me though. The largest ones I know are the (royal?) tombs under St Etiénne, the Cave or Tomb of Jehoshaphat behind the Tomb of Absalom, the Tombs of the Kings (Adiabene), or the Tomb of the Prophets; none would be able to hold large asseblies. Muqqadasi wrote about a hall of prayer large enough to hold, I believe, 69 people, interpreted as a Jewish house of prayer (Muslim authors "omitted" to mention non-Muslims) and thought to be a scribal mistake to mean many more - I came across it since reading up for the topic here but can't remember where, it could be Prawer or maybe an older, less reliable source among those that came up.
Also, how would a tomb work as an assembly place for Jewish clergy and notables, I wonder? I know only Cohanim would have a stringent issue, but still.
As far as I know, there has been no dig under the actual plaza after Warren, while immediately north of it a lot has been done, with the entire length of the wall being excavated for the tunnel. South of the plaza B. Mazar did a lot, Reich & Shukron followed, and there were others since. So sorry, but here I tend to disagree. A bulding ending inside the Warren's Gate hall could hold any number of people. The Geniza letter about the large amount donated by the widow also cannot relate to a burial cave.
The immediate proximity to the Rock is the perfect argument. The connection to a Priests' Gate could also well point to a proximity to Wilson's Arch - we now know about the Temple priests living on the Western Hill, and them using that bridge to get to the Temple is at least logical, don't know if proven.
I'm not aware of any documented C10-11 archiectural remains there, so your reservations make perfect sense, but it's a relatively strong case in my opinion, unlike many other Elad theories. I'd love to know what Bahat, Reich & Shukron, Solomon etc. have to say as archaeologists. Arminden (talk) 16:11, 3 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Here: Bahat did identify Warren's Gate as "the cave". We don't have to agree, the paper is from 2002, but he's in no way an Elad activist or other type of fantast. Arminden (talk) 16:20, 3 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Responding in order:
  • Access—I am happy to be the bearer of good news. The first two links are paywalled but that can be bypassed with a WP:LIBRARY account. Just set it up and then replace "www.jstor.org" with "www-jstor-org.wikipedialibrary.idm.oclc.org". Good to know generally!! The third link is to a free repository, press the "download pdf" button. The fourth link is to an out-of-copyright book on GBooks, so it should just let you scroll to the right page, but if not it's also available on Archive.org. Unfortunately the first three are in Hebrew but the fourth is in English. I don't mind spending a Sunday hour translating; it's good practice for the various dialects.
  • Basically the situation is that 1) Solomon [ben Judah]'s letter says On Monday we gathered in the cave in a great assembly, and we brought out Torah scrolls, and we excommunicated all those that give evil declarations and false letters and lies . . . 2) a responsum attributed to Rashi says With regard to his claim . . . let witnesses be brought and testify to it, because according to him they said this to him in the cave before the assembled congregation. These texts are only a few decades apart and both make a strange reference to a "cave" where a congregation gathered, but the first is probably from Israel and the second is from Ashkenaz. In the latter case it seems clearly idiomatic to me, and also to Israel Elfenbein: he writes The CAVE i.e. a totally public place. 3) Baer goes further and connects the second example to the first, adding also that in another responsum from the same period Meshullam ben Kalonymus describes how . . . they excommunicated them in the cemetery, [ordering] that no one should do business with these brothers . . .. Now, notably Joel Müller, in his original publication of Meshullam's responsum (p. 93) comments The CEMETERY perhaps must be emended to 'the SYNAGOGUE', for it was their practice to excommunicate people in the synagogue, but it's possible that they excommunicated them in the cemetery in order to cause great fear, just as in geonic times in was customary to carry out a bed for corpses when they made a witness swear. The geonic reference is to (p. 8-9) a very strange responsum by Paltoi ben Abaye, who says We have heard that among you there are .. . some people who do not restrict themselves from swearing oaths, but who swear and do not follow through . . . heavy is the punishment for a broken oath, even if it be over less than a half-penny. When a person needs to be sworn, and asks you to swear him, take out the Torah scrolls and remind him of all the curses which are written in the Torah. Then take out a bed which is used to carry corpses, and spread on it the utensils used for preparing the dead. Then bring trumpets and children from the synagogue, and bring inflated skin bottles and spread them before the bed. And let the court say to this man, "Know that tomorrow you(r breath would be as easily spent) as one of these bottles." And bring roosters and light lamps, and bring ash and let the swearer stand on the ash, and force him to him to swear before this display. Say to him "If you lie, every curse in the Torah will come upon you" and use every threat on him, and then blow the trumpets and let the children and all present say, Amen. A (p. 168) very similar responsum attributed to Hai ben Sherira says The world has never seen or heard, since the beginning of Rabbinic history, of a court who objures witnesses with a Torah scroll. Rather, this is our practice: We bring a corpse-bed and place on it a rooster, and the rooster (gavra) represents the man (gavra), and we cover it with a cloth, and we light the lamps, and the lamps represent his life-force, and we throw stove-ash at his feet, to remind him he is "dust and ashes", and we place inflated skin bottles before him, which represent him, and we terrify him and say to him, "know that each of these items is analogous to you", and we bring children and trumpets, and we sit him before the Ark, and the cantor stands above him with the Torah scroll, saying "If you tell us any lie, however small, you will suffer the whole of this from A to Z". I understand that this ritual is described in other Babylonian geonic texts as well. Anyway, Abraham Yaari writes to confirm Baer's view that the three texts are connected: The CAVE means 'the CEMETERY'. Already the traveloguer Jacob Saphir told us that the Jews of Aden referred to their ancient cemetery--which was a field and not a cave--by the name "old cave", and [Saphir] attests that "Everywhere in Yemen they call their cemeteries, the cave". Further he notes "So it is that the Talmud twice describes 'Rabbi so-and-so went to mark the caves', meaning that he went to mark burial places, and in many more places the medievals used the term this way". Obviously the origin of the nickname "cave" for cemetery is the ancient Israeli custom of gathering and burying bones in caves [This is described in many places], and so over time "cave" came to mean "cemetery". So it is that throughout North Africa today, they call their cemeteries "caves". . . the purpose of excommunicating in caves was to induce great fear upon the banned individual. Yaari goes on to say that, in addition to Solomon ben Judah and Meshullam ben Kalonymus, the practice of excommunicating in cemeteries in mentioned in other medieval sources, though he doesn't cite any more specific examples. If you accept that Solomon ben Judah is paralleled by Rashi, it seems clear that he using some kind of generic legal idiom, and if you accept that he is paralleled by Meshullam (et al., according to Yaari) who explicitly refer to a ban in a cemetery, it seems clear that he is referring to a burial site. These can be taken together, as Baer and Yaari do, or separately. However, three other approaches take "cave" literally in at least the first case. According to Simcha Assaf, Solomon ben Judah is referring to the Cave of the Patriarchs. According to Jacob Mann, It is not clear why the Gaon had to meet in a cave for the purpose fo announcing the ban. But probably this was due to a general government order forbidding the ban to be proclaimed on Mount Olivet . . .they had to do it a cave in secrecy. And of course, there are those like Gil who say that it refers to a cave-synagogue in Jerusalem.
  • According to Yaari at least, it wouldn't have to be a literal burial cave, just a cemetery that they referred to as "cave", could be open-air. His sources for cemeteries being called "cave" are 19th-century, but it seems reasonable to me.
  • Re Kohanim, I don't know. It definitely would be a concern. Nonetheless there are many sources for the well-established medieval custom of swearing in witnesses in cemeteries, like Paltoi's responsum quoted above.
  • I've been inside the Warren's Gate space. It is very small, and there's no evidence that it was ever part of a larger building. Re the plaza--there hasn't been an official dig but when they built/expanded it they had archaeologists on site who would have recorded anything notable. Today it's paved over and the neighboring sections (Warren's Gate floor, and on the other side) are left exposed for tourists. The Ahimaaz reference doesn't refer to a burial place, but it also doesn't refer to a cave. My guess is that it referred to a larger, more habitable building somewhere else in the area. GordonGlottal (talk) 16:53, 5 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
  • Could "great assembly" refer to the gravity of the event rather than the number of people? If not, I expect it is dramatic exaggeration and wonder if there were even that many Jews living in Jerusalem at the time. As for a large number of people in a cave, is there any record of Jews meeting in Zedekiah's Cave? Thousands could fit in there easily. Zerotalk 02:45, 6 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Benjamin's "west"[edit]

I have heard another theory about Benjamin's description but I'm struggling to remember where. Like most travellers of the time, Benjamin would have observed the mount from the Mount of Olives. From that perspective, the Gate of Mercy is to the west. Maybe Benjamin just meant the wall he could see towards the west (of himself). The earliest manuscripts we have are all dated centuries after Benjamin and frequently disagree with each other (see Adler's description) and this is something a copyist could easily get wrong. Adler's critical apparatus notes 3 manuscript variations in just this sentence (find by לו in the margin) though none answer this question I think. Zerotalk 04:22, 2 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

I'm definitely not an expert but I've read the discussion and wanted to give my two cents from a perspective closer to the average reader.

I'd suggest the following structure for the section on the 10-12th centuries

  1. Medieval authors' accounts of Jews praying near the walls
  2. Note on the complexity of identifying a precise location (using Prawer as the source?)
  3. Identifications made by modern scholars, like Rabinowitz (2012). Alaexis¿question? 21:42, 2 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Extended-confirmed-protected edit request on 6 May 2024[edit]

just a small typo: is also known ad the "Wailing Wall"

should be: is also known as the "Wailing Wall" Daizee.boucher (talk) 04:06, 6 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Done, thanks. Zerotalk 04:57, 6 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]