Rabbi Yehuda HaKohenThe author is a leader in the Alternative Action movement (www.alternativeaction.org). He also teaches at several Jerusalem institutions and is a frequent lecturer on American college campuses.
To recognize the true significance of Yom Yerushalayimת Jerusalm Day – the day on which the Jewish people liberated Jerusalem from foreign rule – one must work to develop a deep vision of faith, Emunah.
In D’at Tvunot, Rabbi Moshe Haim Luzzatto teaches us to see authoring history – to appreciate a Divine plan unfolding and to understand everything we encounter in our lives through the context of a greater goal that transcends, yet includes, all creatures, places and events.
All of Creation with all of its multiplicity and variety is actually one organic whole that appears fragmented from the untrained human perspective. Due to his myopic perception, man tends to see everything as disconnected – and often even opposing – forces. But when we learn to view the world from the Divine perspective, we become capable of relating to everything we encounter – with all of their diverse unique functions and distinctions – as exceptional pieces of one giant and amazing puzzle.
The study of Emunah is learning to see the Divine light in its unity before its having been distilled into multiplicity from the human perspective – to see not only the seemingly fragmented branches, but also the unified roots. The study of Emunah helps us to recognize the One that precedes and transcends the individual parts, yet is at the same time revealed through them, thereby giving them their true significance and purpose in our world.
Because we exist within the framework of time, history seems from the human perspective to flow in a long process of events. But from the perspective of He Who creates the framework of time and is clearly not bound by it – history exists as one giant light. What we might perceive to be disconnected events, with hundreds of years and thousands of miles between them, are actually interdependent expressions of a singular Divine theme in which ’s Oneness is revealed to all of Creation.
Everything in Creation possesses a spiritual back end – a lofty ideal that manifests itself in our world through a tangible vehicle that expresses its inner content. Everything we encounter on the terrestrial plane possesses a spiritual counterpart in the celestial realm. And a central component of the Hebrew mission requires us to reveal the kedusha, holiness, inherent in our world through actualizing concrete material expressions for our deepest spiritual values and ideals.
Israel is not so much tasked with spiritualizing the material, but rather materializing the spiritual, in order that the Torah’s loftiest concepts attain full expression in our reality.
Celestial Jerusalem as a spiritual ideal represents the absolute good from beyond this world and the eternal Divine values constantly driving history forward towards its goal. Terrestrial Jerusalem here on earth is the physical expression of the celestial Jerusalem above. What may appear to the human eye as merely an ancient mountain city is actually the uniquely designed conduit that reveals ’s Oneness to mankind and enables the flow of Divine energy and blessing into our world (Tanhuma Pekudei 1).
G-d swore that His Shekhina (Presence) would not enter celestial Jerusalem above until the Jewish people enters terrestrial Jerusalem below (Zohar 3:15b).
Clal Yisrael – the unique spiritual organism revealed in this world through millions of bodies in space and time called Jews – is the national receptacle that receives and expresses the Divine Ideal.
What the Land of Israel – and specifically Jerusalem – is in geographic form, the Nation of Israel is in human form.
The famed kabalist of Hevron, Rabbi Avraham Azulai, teaches in the Chesed L’Avraham that the size of the window through which Divine blessing enters our world directly depends on the amount of Eretz Yisrael under Hebrew governance. Jerusalem is the bridge connecting the physical and spiritual realms – the porthole between our corporeal realty and the world beyond.
And that porthole connecting celestial and terrestrial Jerusalem is only open for blessing to enter our world when the human and geographic manifestations
Jerusalem is the bridge connecting the physical and spiritual realms – the porthole between our corporeal realty and the world beyond.
of the Divine Ideal unite – when the Jewish people possess political sovereignty over Jerusalem.
Our Sages explain (Megillah 29a) that when Israel is in exile from our land the Shkhina is in exile and that only when the Jewish people return to Eretz Yisrael does the Divine Presence return. When the Children of Israel were exiled from Jerusalem, ’s Ideal for this world could not be perceived as unified here on earth. Mankind lacked the ability to fully connect to our inner Source. In such a situation, reality appeared not as one Divine light but as fragmented individual components separate from one another and history became viewed as merely a series of disconnected events.
But when the Hebrew Nation returned to Jerusalem on the 28th of Iyar, the expression of His Ideal became unified with all Creation, establishing the conditions for the fulfillment of the verse that “He will be One and His Name will be One” (Zekharia 14:9).
According to the holy Zohar (3:93), this verse refers to the unification of His Ideal with the reality we experience. Israel’s liberation of Jerusalem ushered in a new historic era for mankind in which the bridge linking this world to the world beyond is back in place. The porthole through which Divine blessing enters our world is again open.
Malkhut Yisrael on earth is the material vehicle that receives and expresses the Divine Kingdom above. The core of this realm, where our ability to perceive and experience our connection to is strongest, is the Judea region including and surrounding Jerusalem. We therefore have unique laws and customs exclusively pertaining to this region, such as the commandment for a Jew to rend his garment upon seeing the cities of Judea destroyed – a mitzvah that does not apply to cities in any other portion of our country. And according to both the Beit Yosef and the Mishnah Brurah on the Shulhan Arukh (section 561), the term “destroyed” is legally defined as being under foreign rule.
This means that a Jew who sees a physically ruined and uninhabitable city in a free Judea is not commanded to tear his garment but he would be commanded to do so upon seeing a Judean city under gentile sovereignty – even if that city is fully developed and abounding with vibrant Jewish life. And indeed, following the liberation of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook ruled that although our Holy Temple is not yet rebuilt, we no longer rend our garments upon seeing the Temple Mount.
While the return of the Jewish people to the city that had been the central focus of our tears, dreams and tefillot for thousands of years would be sufficient to warrant the establishment of a new festival (complete with Hallel), Yom Yerushalayim actually commemorates so much more.
The 28th of Iyar is the day on which the bridge linking heaven and earth was restored and the porthole through which Divine blessing enters our world was reopened. Yom Yerushalayim inaugurates a new historic era in which the Shekhina is no longer in exile and all of mankind can recognize and experience our inner connection to the timeless and boundless ultimate Reality that creates all, sustains all, empowers all and loves all.