Dear God, Love Bob

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Check out this fascinating article in The Guardian about all of the letters that people send to God, often addressed “God, Jerusalem.”

God has a postbox and an address. All you need write is “To God, Jerusalem” and the postman in the holy city’s dead-letter office will deliver it for you.

Yet, of the 2,000-odd notes delivered to the almighty yesterday, many were addressed in such elaborate ways that even the most ardent of God’s ancient correspondents would have blushed.Prayer_Papers_in_the_Western_Wall.jpg

As if the post office might be confused about the identity of the recipient, some of the envelopes read: “The Holy, The Great and Big Temple”, “His Reverence, The High Priest, The Holy Temple of God, Jerusalem Holy City of God, Holy Land of Israel” and “To Almighty God, Alpha and Omega, Jerusalem, Israel.”

While most oddly labeled letters meet their end in the “undeliverable” pile at Jerusalem’s post office these ones get a second life.

As long as the envelopes have some form of address, the postman is obliged by international law to deliver.
The head of the office, Avi Yaniv, says he knows where he can get closest to God on earth.

Every year he has the envelopes opened, the messages neatly folded and slipped between the cracks of the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. Known as the Kotel to Israelis and as the Wailing Wall to others, it is venerated as the last remnant of King David’s temple.

At the dead letter office “we find the owners and send the letters back and in between these letters we also receive letters to God and because we have no address other than the Wailing Wall, we put them there,” Yaniv says.

Yaniv says they also receive letters to Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and King David, but the Chief Rabbi at the Western Wall permits only those addressed to God to be delivered.

When the mail arrives at the dead letter office the staff sorts it into boxes. Correspondence destined for the wall goes into boxes marked “To God”.

Full Story
Does this make anyone else think of all those letters sent to Santa? Also, where exactly are these notes being placed? It’s so hard to find a place at the Kotel that isn’t already totally full of notes, at least in my experience. Maybe the key is to go right after the wall is cleaned out, twice a year. Little known fact: once the notes are removed from the wall they’re treated like holy books, and buried in a nearby cemetery.

Related: Here’s a website where you can read and write letters to God. I don’t think they end up at the Kotel, but it’s still kind of cool.

[Also I would like to point out a mistake in the article: it's not King David's temple, it's the Holy Temple, built by King Solomon.]

Posted on December 12, 2008

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