A Glossary of Basic Jewish Terms and
– the Holy City of the People of Israel. The following blessing from the
Amidah, recited morning, afternoon and evening for 2,000 years by the Jewish
People all over the world, sums up accurately their feelings for Jerusalem:
“And to Yerushalayim, Your City, may You return in compassion, and may You
rest within it, as You have promised. May You rebuild it soon in our days as
an eternal structure. And may You speedily establish the Throne of David
within. Blessed are You, HaShem, Builder of Yerushalayim.”
The first Biblical reference to Jerusalem is in Bereshit 14:18, after
Avram’s victory over the Four Kings, where “Malki-Tzedek, King of Shalem,
brought out bread and wine, for he was a priest of G-d the Most High. He
blessed him saying, ‘Blessed is Avram of G-d, the Most High, Maker of Heaven
and Earth...’ ” “Shalem” means “peace,” and it is an early form of the name
Yerushalayim. In that verse, we see the city’s spirituality from the
beginning, and its dedication to peace.
According to Jewish tradition, the Temple Mount was the site of the “Akeidah,”
the Binding of Yitzchak. For nearly 1,000 years, while the Temples stood,
Jerusalem was the place to which the Jewish People traveled three times a
year on the Pilgrim Festivals Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot.
King David acquired the site of the Temple in Jerusalem around 1,000 B.C.E.
and wished to build the Temple himself. But HaShem would not allow him to be
the builder, because he had spilled too much blood in wars, and the Temple
was to be a symbol of Peace. Instead, He chose David’s son, Shlomo (Solomon)
to build the First Temple. That beautiful and holy structure subsequently
was destroyed by the Babylonians around 586 B.C.E., was rebuilt 70 years
later by Ezra and Nechemiah, only to be destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E.,
initiating the 2,000 year Exile in which the Jewish People now finds itself.
During this period, during which the Jewish People has maintained itself by
adhering to the Laws and lifestyle of the Torah, it would sing Psalm 137 of
David, who in prophecy foresaw a long period of Exile and wrote the Jews’
“How shall we sing the L-rd’s song in a strange land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her skill.
If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,
If I prefer not Jerusalem above my highest joys.”
The modern State of Israel fought its War of Independence against several
Arab armies. It established itself within borders that did not include the
Old City of Jerusalem, but that did include the New City of Jerusalem that
was contiguous with the Old. Residents and visitors recall staring at
Jordanian soldiers only yards away, across the “border.” During this period
of Arab occupation, access even to the small alley in front of the “Western
Wall” that had served for centuries as a place of prayer and tears was
denied to the Jews.
In June of 1967, during the Six-Day War, the Israel Defense Forces
recaptured nearly the entire Biblical Land of Israel, including the Old City
of Jerusalem. A beautiful plaza was built in front of the Western Wall. That
place now serves as a place for Jews to gather every day for prayer and
memories, and on its special days of joy and mourning.
The sound of building is heard at all times in Jerusalem. Entire new
communities are springing up and “Yeshivot,” institutions of Torah learning
from Europe have re-established themselves in the city. New applications of
Torah Law, including Jewish Medical Ethics, are being developed constantly,
and taught to the Diaspora. Immigration from the West is building and
“Aliyah” is occurring “b’kommiut,” out of free will. A modern university
holds classes in all secular disciplines. Biblical prophecies are being
fulfilled before one’s eyes.
May this current period of rebuilding serve as a milestone for the coming of
the “Mashiach,” and the final rebuilding of the Temple.
The above graphic includes photographs that were provided by VERAfilm archives.