Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day 2010 By Rav Menahem Froman
As the conflict and struggles around Jerusalem continue and intensify, the vision to turn the city to a Capital of Peace seems especially distorted. Nonetheless, if every person will act for this dream, it is possible. In the context of all the associations that accompany the name of Jerusalem in these tempestuous days–conflicts, crises, problems–surely the one who will mention the identification of Jerusalem as Ir Shalom, the City of Peace, will come across as a hallucinatory. But it is forbidden for us to allow the downward spirals of current politics to blot out the true image of the city. [Hebrew missing for this paragraph]
Jerusalem in the Jewish tradition is the city of G-d whose name is Shalom, and therefore she is the Capital of Peace for all the nations. Already in her first appearance in the Torah, she appears as the city of Melchitzedek king of Shalem, as he, the Priest to G-d on High, blesses the first Jew, Abraham. Also, her ultimate end, according to what is revealed in Isaiah, is to become a place in which “they will blunt their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks–nation will not lift sword up against nation and they will no longer learn war”.
It is important to remember that also in the Islamic sources, Jerusalem holds a special place. From where comes the importance of Jerusalem to 1.5 billion Muslims across the world? From the chapter in the Koran called “The praise of G-d”, where G-d took his prophet on an incredible journey to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and from there up to “Jerusalem on High” in order that all the Divine messengers that came before him–the prophets of Israel and amongst them Jesus of Nazereth–would lay their hands upon him. And I have already found modern Islamic interpretations (from the Muslim Brotherhood) that give a real-life interpretation of this: Jerusalem is the outstretched hand for peace from Islam to Judaism and Christianity.
Peace Begins from Within
השלום מתחיל בתוכנו
From the perspective of the Jewish people, Jerusalem is described in our sources also as a place of inner peace–the city that connects the distinct tribes. As a Jew of the older generation, as one who merited to be a soldier amongst the paratroopers who liberated the Old City of Jerusalem, I remember with what tremendous feeling we would read the words from psalm 132: “Our legs were standing in your gates, Jerusalem. Jerusalem the rebuilt–like a city joined as one. For there ascended the tribes, tribes of G-d”.
This Psalm describes Jerusalems past, which is the basis for its future. But what is the city’s present condition? Does it in our time join the factions among our people? To a certain extent we must admit that Jerusalem in the present davka manifests before us the differences of opinion and the divisions between different cultural factions.
Behold, “Jerusalem Day”, at whose entrance we stand: for the National-Religious community it is one of the happiest days of the year. In their synagogues they will sing the Hallel, a joyous service of thanksgiving, and tens of thousands will pilgrimage to the city and celebrate with flag parades. In contradistinction, for the extreme Left, this is their Tisha b’Av, “the Day of the Occupation”, which brings to mind the low point of Zionism. And between these for the majority of Israelis it’s just another work day, where just the media will mention something about Jerusalem.
Is it possible to restore Jerusalem’s ancient crown? Is there any possibility that Jerusalem will become in reality the city of peace between Israel and the nations? And the city of peace between the various factions with the Jewish people? And if it’s possible to focus the question on a specific time, today, Jerusalem Day, is it in our hands to turn this new holiday, which the Master of History has place in the calendar, into an actuality for all factions of the Jewish people?
To Liberate the City
לשחרר את העיר
The answer I wish to propose today, on Jerusalem Day, is based upon the famous dispatch of my commander, Moti Gur: “The Temple Mount is in our hands!” Jerusalem has been given again into our hands in order to turn it into a City of Peace, between us and our neighbors and between us and ourselves. “in our hands”–lifted up in prayer, “in our hands”–through taking action.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslav sees in the clapping of hands–the joining together of right hand and left–an expression of combining the oppositions and polarizations that exist in reality. The movement of bringing the two hands together to clap is a movement of peace. If we should merit and if it should fall into our hands to transform Jerusalem into the cornerstone of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, between religious and secular and between the Left and the Right, it would give reality to our interpretation of this day.
And then Jerusalem Day can take its place in our consciousness as the day upon which the walls fell and we liberated the city, the day on which we trasnformed her to become the place of bringing all these oppositions together. Yom Yerushalayim, Yom YeruShalom. Today!