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לימוד תורה

The struggle for Jerusalem

Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald – The Parasha in our everyday life – Behar-Bechukotai - Jerusalem Day - 5781

For several weeks now, explosions have been heard every evening in the Old City of Jerusalem. Fireworks fired by Jerusalem Arab rioters at our security forces and the shock grenades used to try to restore order. The media reports about the events, but for the most part it conceals their context and their connection to fueling the ongoing national and strategic struggle for Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority has requested to include East Jerusalem in the PA elections that are scheduled to take place in about a month. In doing so, it wants to express the de-facto it rules in East Jerusalem. Another stage in the ongoing battle for Jerusalem; its release and redemption.

In the coming week, we will mark Jerusalem Day, commemorating the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem, as the capital city of the State of Israel. Mordechai "Motta" Gur's historical calling will resound again in our ears: "The Temple Mount is in our hands!" הר הבית בידינו)‎ Har HaBayit BeYadeinu), Rabbi Goren's Shofar blowing at the Western Wall, the paratroopers cuddling on its stones singing 'Jerusalem of Gold', and the proclamation of the late Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook at the Western Wall: "To all the people of Israel, and to all the nations of the world, know that we are making a renewal of history, a renewal of our days as of old חַדֵּ֥שׁ יָמֵ֖ינוּ כְּקֶֽדֶם. Israeli history returns to have validity, from now and forever, and we will never move from here. If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither. "אִֽם־אֶשְׁכָּחֵ֥ךְ יְֽרוּשָׁלִָ֗ם תִּשְׁכַּ֥ח יְמִינִֽי

Although the unification of Jerusalem is anchored in the 'Jerusalem Law' and received special international recognition by the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem (currently the new US administration has not withdrawn from this decision), it has not ceased to be constantly challenged at home and abroad.

The struggle for control over Jerusalem is not purely a territorial struggle. It is a struggle against the State of Israel as a sovereign entity of the Jewish nation for generations. Jerusalem, the historic capital of Israel, the royal city of the House of David and the Temple expresses the roots of Israeli sovereignty over the entire land. In the Gamla excavations in the Golan Heights, archaeologist Shmarya Guttman found a bronze coin from the period of the Great Revolt on which was inscribed: "For the Redemption of Holy Jerusalem." The rebels realized that even in distant Gamla they were fighting for the "redemption of Jerusalem" which symbolized Israeli sovereignty.

The struggle for Jerusalem has a deeper layer. The added value and holiness of Jerusalem gives the state and sovereignty a deeper and more valuable meaning. It transforms the state, from being like all other countries - to a unique one, with a value and spiritual destiny. From a technical instrumental tool, designed to serve its inhabitants, to a state founded on a spiritual vision of holiness, message and morality. A vision of eternity.

וְהַנֵּצַח״ — זוֹ יְרוּשָׁלַיִם

"the triumph; this is Jerusalem" (Brachot 58a).

During the difficult days of the War of Independence, Jerusalem was cut off. The young IDF's General Headquarters was debating whether it was right to divert fighting forces from other sectors and endanger them, to open the way to Jerusalem. Ben-Gurion decided that the war on Jerusalem was the main effort, for its spiritual value and not only for strategic and practical reasons. And so he said: "If a land has a soul - then Jerusalem is the soul of the Land of Israel, and the battle for Jerusalem is decisive and not only militarily … That oath on the rivers of Babylon (If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither) is binding today as in those days, otherwise we will not be worthy of the name Am Israel" (David Ben-Gurion -Fighting Israel).

The Midrash in our Parasha adds another layer, a Divine one, where the inheritance of Jerusalem depends on the deeds of the people of Israel: "...

אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, בַּעֲוֹנוֹתֵיהֶם אֲנִי מוֹכֵר אֶת בֵּיתִי לַכַּשְׂדִּים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְאִישׁ כִּי יִמְכֹּר בֵּית מוֹשָׁב, זֶה בֵּיתוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: כִּי בָחַר ה' בְּצִיּוֹן, אִוָּה לְמוֹשָׁב לוֹ וּמֶה הָיָה, וַיִּשְׂרֹף אֶת בֵּית ה' ... עִיר חוֹמָה, זֶה עִירוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיְנַתְּצוּ אֶת חוֹמַת יְרוּשָׁלַיִם וְגוֹ'

"The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, “Because of their sins I have sold My house to the Chaldeans.” It is so stated “And when someone sells a dwelling house.” This is the house of the Holy One, blessed be He, as stated, “For the Lord has chosen Zion; he has desired it for His dwelling.” And what happened [to it]? And he burned the house of the Lord … “A walled city.” This is the city of the Holy One, blessed be He, as stated, “and they broke down the wall of Jerusalem….” (Midrash Tanhuma Behar 1).

אחר שאמר ענין מכר הבית חזר הכתוב לתת טעם לדבר איך יהיה הדבר הזה שימכור ד' אחוזתו בית הבחירה, והוא אומרו: 'ואיש' - זה הקדוש ברוך הוא, 'כי ימכור בית מושב' - פירוש בית שבו מושב אלקים - זה בית המקדש, 'עיר חומה' - זו ירושלים וכו'. אמר הטעם הוא 'והיתה גאולתו' שבאמצעות זה אדרבה נגאל! על דרך אומרם ז"ל (מדרש תהלים ע"ט): בפסוק 'מזמור לאסף וגו'' ש'השליך ה' חמתו על עצים ואבנים', שזולת זה לא היה נשאר מישראל שריד ופליט. ואם אין ישראל אין בית המקדש ולא ירושלים. לזה - 'והיתה גאולתו' של עם וגאולת הבית כי יש תקוה, ושבו בנים לגבולם! (או"ח ויקרא שם).

"After the Torah has described how G-d "sold" the Temple, the Torah now explains how it could happen that G-d would "sell" His heritage, the Holy Temple. This is why the paragraph starts with the word ואיש, so that we understand that the word refers to G-d, just as it had in the previous paragraph. The extraneous word מושב refers to the house in which G-d has His residence, the Holy Temple; the expression עיר חומה refers to Jerusalem, the "walled city" which is described by David in Psalms 125 ,2 as "the city ringed by mountains, (i.e. like wall)." The Torah continues by explaining that these very "walls" are why the city may be redeemed after as little as a year already. The reason is similar to what has been revealed to us by Midrash Tehillim on Psalms 79,1. We were told there that when G-d vented His anger on the stones and timber of the city allowing it to be destroyed, this was in lieu of venting all His anger on the people inside the city. Had G-d not vented His anger on stone and wood, not a single Jew would have survived that experience. If Israel had been wiped out, there would never again have been either a Holy Temple or a city of Jerusalem". (Or HaChayim on Vayikrah 25:28)

We have merited in our generation that וְשָׁ֥בוּ בָנִ֖ים לִגְבוּלָֽם "Your children shall return to their country" and 'from now and forever, we will never move from here'.

הרב צבי יהודה בכותל: "לא נזוז מכאן אף פעם

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