By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried
Dear Rabbi Fried,
I appreciate your answer to my question how to explain the true ownership of Israel; I am reading and am contacting AIPAC as well, as you suggested. Another related issue is that of the “international status of Jerusalem” as so many on campus and in the political arena are espousing, pushing the issue of the separation of Jerusalem and making it the capital of the P.A. I would appreciate your insights on this issue as well.
On June 7, 1967, corresponding to 28 Iyar 5727, a seminal event in recent Jewish history transpired: the reunification of Jerusalem. The sources I mentioned previously will give you the geopolitical ramifications of that event. I will focus upon the spiritual importance of a unified Jerusalem.
The name “Yerushalayim” is actually the combination of two separate names, “Yeru” and “Shalem.” The second name was assigned to it by Shem, a son of Noah, who served as its spiritual leader for many generations and led a yeshiva there for Torah study. This name means peace, like shalom, and also means completeness. The name Yeru means “the awe of G-d” and was given by Abraham. The Midrash relates that the Almighty savored both names and the message therein; therefore, He combined them into one name, Yerushalayim.
Geographically, Jerusalem has a ridge running from north to south which divides the city into the lower eastern and upper western sections. The lower city, which included the eastern slope of the Temple mount, was known as Shalem in ancient times. The upper city, which included the western part of the Mount and the place of the altar used by Abraham, was known as the land of Moriah, and renamed by Abraham as Yeru. Its reunification reflected the first hints of Jerusalem being returned to its original grandeur.
The spiritual roots of Jerusalem run very deep. The Midrash and Rashi explain that the place of the altar in Jerusalem is, in fact, the very spot from which G-d took the dust out of which he formed Adam, the first man. This was in order that man should have a place to repent from his very essence if he should succumb to the earthly, mundane side of his being. In that place he could again be elevated to G-dliness. Adam built an altar there, the same one where Cain and Abel later brought their offerings. Noah rebuilt the altar there after the flood, and next to it his son and great-grandson, Shem and Ever, established their study halls. This was the altar where Abraham offered Isaac, Isaac later prayed and Jacob saw the vision of the ladder in his sleep next to it. King David was shown this place prophetically when he established the site of the Temple to be built by his son Solomon. In the Kabbalistic sources we find that there is a stone on the mount at the place of the altar which was the beginning of G-d’s creation of the universe, and from there emanated all of creation.
All this reflects the essence of the two concepts: the awe of G-d through His service and Presence, and the peace among the Jewish people when they would come together as one family thrice yearly for the three Jewish holidays to worship together in the Temple.
Throughout our exile we pray three times daily for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and mention it in our blessing after meals and in our Sabbath prayer service. Under the marriage canopy a glass is broken and ashes are placed upon the head of the groom in solemn remembrance of Jerusalem at the time of greatest joy. The entire Jewish people end the Passover seder with “Next year in Jerusalem.”
The reunification of Jerusalem gave us the ability to again pray at the Western Wall and live with some modicum of peace in Jerusalem. Those who seek to re-separate it seek the downfall of Israel. We should do all we can in our efforts and our prayers to keep Jerusalem unified. “Next year in Jerusalem!”
Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, noted scholar and author of numerous works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel. Questions can be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried