Monday, May 21, 2012
The Real Deal - Jerusalem Day in Jerusalem
Anyone who has been lucky enough to visit Jerusalem on Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) can clearly imagine two other days in Jewish history - the Aliyah to the Holy Temple on the Passover Holiday, and the flood into the Old City after its liberation in 1967.
Today, as on those day, rivulets of Jews from all different streets and all different directions in new Jerusalem flowed into larger streams of people as they approached the Old City, until they became like a giant rush of water pouring through the streets of the Old City.
We latched on to different yeshiva groups, overflowing with spirit and enthusiasm. They sang, we clapped, they drummed, we hummed.
Every Yom Yerushalayim, I go through my entire repertoire of Jerusalem songs, and then start again at the beginning. These yeshiva guys were great. They never missed a beat.
Meanwhile they flew their flags, or wore them on their backs. They danced as they bounced down the avenues and alleys of Jerusalem. They jumped and they sang at the top of their lungs.
They greeted long lost friends, and waved at those Jerusalemites who watched them from their porches and windows. Some hung out signs, "Welcome to Jerusalem". This made me recall the welcoming atmosphere of the days when pilgrims came to Jerusalem on the three holidays. As it says in Pirkei Avot, Chapter 5 Mishna 7, "A person never said to his fellow, 'It is too crowded for me to lodge overnight in Jerusalem."
When we arrived inside the walls of the Old City through the Shechem Gate, we simply went with the flow of humanity - it was impossible not to do so, because we were packed in like sardines floating down the river.
As we got closer to the Kotel Plaza, the crowds became denser. We made it to the Kotel to pray, but others were not so lucky. The music and dancing stopped long enough for the Rav of the Kotel Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich announced that no one else could be let into the Old City walls, because the Kotel Plaza was packed to capacity. Wow!
We felt grateful that we had made it in, but we felt terrible for those thousands of people still standing on the steps and all the way up to the Jewish Quarter. There they stood and watched the dancing down below. (Hm, come to think of it, they had box seats!)
We prayed together with thousands of others. We thanked Hashem for this miraculous place. We looked up at this holy wall, and were awe struck by its magnitude, and we wished to be on top near a rebuilt Holy Temple.
"Naaleh et Yerushalayim al Rosh Simchateinu" - "Raise Jerusalem above our great joy." These were the words of Rabbi Rabinovich. "If we raise Jerusalem above all else, we will merit to rebuild the Holy Temple."
That seemed to be the common denominator of the 100,000 people at the Kotel at that moment. Everyone wished to raise the glory of Jerusalem to the highest peak, and to raise Jerusalem above all else in their hearts and minds.
And more than anything else, everyone was smiling today/tonight. They smiled with love for one another, love for Jerusalem, and a hope that was tangible and that even felt possible - that all of Jerusalem could be rebuilt just as it should be, that the Beit HaMikdash was real and could take its proper place one day soon.
Someone called out, "Let us ascend to the Temple Mount and build the Holy Temple right now." At that split second, I bet we could have. Now we will all have to wait for a propitious time.
May Hashem rebuild His Holy Temple speedily in our day, to bring light to Jerusalem - the light of the world.