For a little over 3,000, Jerusalem has been central to the religious life of the Jewish people – regardless of whether or not we were in control of the city at any given time. King David conquered the city in battle with the Jebusites in II Samuel 5 and he purchased the Temple Mount from Araunah the Jebusite in II Samuel 24. While he was denied permission to build the Temple himself, David praised Zion (meaning the Temple Mount) and Jerusalem throughout Psalms, as these were the places where G-d had chosen to most strongly make His presence manifest. The various prophets – Isaiah in particular – also addressed Jerusalem specifically in their prophecies. The book of Eicha (Lamentations) by the prophet Jeremiah mourns the state of Jerusalem after its destruction.
Even today, Jerusalem is a frequent focal point of our prayers. Not only do we daven facing the direction of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, Jerusalem is mentioned in the daily Shemoneh Esrei, in bentching, in yaaleh v’yavo on holidays, in the seven brachos recited for newlyweds, and more. So it’s no small wonder that the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 and the return of the Western Wall to Jewish hands was an event of major significance in Jewish history. That event is commemorated as Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day).
This year, Yom Yerushalayim is celebrated on Sunday, June 5, and OU Holidays has the content to bring you up to speed and get you in the proper Jerusalem spirit. Currently featured are such items of interest as:
- The Rav’s Philosophy on Religious Zionism by Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkopf;
- Yerushalayim: The Physical and the Spiritual by Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb;
- Capturing the Wall – a firsthand account by Aaron Hirsh;
- Yom Yerushalayim 5774 – a shiur by Rabbi Yosef Wolicki;
- and more!
Jerusalem is the city that G-d selected for His House and it is in many ways integral to the Jewish experience. We are fortunate to live in an era when we can visit this holy site, a privilege that was denied our ancestors for so many generations. May we be able to appreciate Jerusalem and to merit seeing it rebuilt with the Bayis Shlishi (the third Temple) swiftly in our days.