“I was glad when they said to me ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” (Psalm 122)
According to Judaism, the required thrice-yearly pilgrimage focuses on the Western Wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, as this is believed to be closest to the spot where the Holy of Holies of the First Temple was situated before its destruction. From the mid-19th century onwards, piety and messianic fervour spurred unprecedented numbers of Jews, from as far afield as Morocco and Russia, to visit and indeed settle in the Holy Land. A visit to Jerusalem was often combined with a tour of the wider region, taking in the Tombs of the Patriarchs – most importantly those of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – and those of the Matriarchs Sara, Leah and Rebecca, situated in Hebron. Visits to commemorative sites had great spiritual significance for believers, for as the Talmud explains, prayers at the graveside of someone who was holy during their lifetime have a greater chance of being accepted and bring blessings on both the supplicant and the deceased.