The Light of the World
January 9, 2001
© 2001 Light to the Nations, Rabbi Chaim Richman - All Rights
In the Midrash, our sages state: "Jerusalem is the light of the world.
And who is the light of Jerusalem? The Holy One, blessed be He" (Breishith
Last night, at the mass rally held outside the walls of the Old City in
solidarity with an undivided, eternal Jewish Jerusalem, that light became a
palpable, tangible reality that could be sensed. During Chanukah, we wrote in
these pages about G-dís promise to "search Jerusalem with
candles." But last night, no candles were necessary. It was reflected not
only in the spotlights and torches that shone off the Old Cityís walls, but
in the faces of the hundreds of thousands of Jews who came from all over
Israel and the world to line the streets and pledge their loyalty to the city
that is also called by the sages "the mother of Israel" (Midrash
Míchiri, Psalms, 147). And just who is it that would be willing to give his
Speaking to reporters, Binyamin Netanyahu said "Jerusalem is our heart,
our soul, and the center of our being. We cannot tear our heart in two, and we
will never, ever divide Jerusalem." But the sages said it even better:
"Jerusalem is called life" (Avot DíRabbi Natan 34:10).
Last night, the collective, pure and untainted spirit of the Jewish people
made a statement to the world: we will not allow anyone to tamper with our
life. Mayor Ehud Olmert, diplomatically polite in the extreme, told Bill
Clinton that it would be a shame for him to wreck eight years of friendship
with Israel with his "creative" idea of dividing the city.
"Think about it, Mr. President," Olmert said.
Elsewhere there can be found a far less diplomatic, more straightforward
message to Mr. Clinton. "The L-rd rebukes you, O adversary; even the L-rd
who has chosen Jerusalem rebukes you" (Zacharia 3:2).
"Like the flocks of the holy sacrifices, like the flock of Jerusalem in
her appointed times, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men,
and they shall know that I am the L-rd" (Ezekiel 36:38). To behold
countless Jews of diverse affiliations and backgrounds, speaking every
language, filling the cityís streets to pledge their allegiance to her and
to affirm their imperishable connection, was perhaps the closest one could get
to the experience of the festival pilgrimage up to the Holy Temple.
"Jerusalem, built as a city that is compact together" (Psalms 122)
≠ and as the sages comment on this verse, "the city that binds all of
Israel together in friendship." This was called the largest gathering in
the history of Jerusalem, but during the festival pilgrimage in the Holy
Temple, there were even larger crowds. Then a miracle is said to have
occurred: No matter how many pilgrims crowded into the Temple, there was
always ample room for everyone to bow down before the Divine Presence.
Before the eyes of the world, Israel is again united in Jerusalem, and
focusing on the Temple Mount, as one man with one heart. Each speaker at the
gathering affirmed the Jewish peopleís inexorable bond with the Temple
Mount, and recognized it as the link between our past and our future. For
2,000 years, Jews the world over turn and face this spot daily in prayer. It
was noted that although the Arabs have squatted on our holy site for 1300
years, they never got around to changing their religious pilgrimage from Mecca
to Jerusalem. Even on the platform of the Mount, the Moslem worshippers turn
their backs on its holiness and bow down towards Mecca. Yet Jerusalemís
Mufti has called last nightís gathering a "provocation" and issued
a religious edict obligating every Moslem to defend El Aksa. He also stated
that even the Western Wall and its plaza "is Moslem property, including
seven levels below, and seven levels above...It is forbidden for Moslems to
permit non-Moslems to supervise, conduct services or pray in any part of the
mosques or underneath them."
Let it be noted that to the Mufti of Jerusalem, we find another clear message,
totally lacking in diplomacy:
"And the L-rd roars out of Zion, and utters His voice from Jerusalem, and
the heavens and earth shake, but the L-rd will be a shelter for His people,
and a stronghold for the Children of Israel. So shall you know that I am the
L-rd your G-d dwelling in Zion, My holy mountain: Then shall Jerusalem be
holy, and no strangers shall pass through her anymore" (Zacharia 1:17).
Sunday night, at the Israel Policy Forum dinner in New York, Bill Clinton
publicly unveiled his plan. "There is no choice but for Israel to divide
this land into two states for two peoples." Jerusalem, says the
President, must be the capital of both Israel and Palestine. Mr. Clinton was
praised as a great peacemaker, and presented with a scroll inscribed with the
Hebrew words "todah, haver" (thank you, friend).
However, a different, older scroll ≠ the Torah scroll ≠ bears a contrasted
inscription for Bill Clinton:
"Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the peoples
round about...and on that day I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all
the peoples: all that burden themselves with it shall be grievously hurt, and
all the peoples of the earth shall be gathered together against it" (Zacharia
Zacharia the prophet met an angel carrying a measuring line in his hand.
"Then I said, where are you going? And he said to me, to measure
Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth of it, and what is the length of it.
Jerusalem shall be inhabited like unwalled towns...for I, says the L-rd, will
be to her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of
her" (Ch. 2).
With blessings of light from Jerusalem, the heart
Rabbi Chaim Richman
THE TEMPLE INSTITUTE
PO Box 31876
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