Yom Yerushalayim

Tonight starts the date of 28 Iyar. This is the date that the holy city of Jerusalem was reunited, and her children who had longed for her were finally able to return to the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, and all of the Old City and Mount of Olives.

The Arabs had for 19 years prevented Jews from visiting these holy sites, and had desecrated places of worship and Torah study, and the even the ancient Jewish cemetery. On this day, Zion’s children returned to her. Within another 24 hours, longing children would also return to Gush Etzion and Hevron.

To tell the truth, one shouldn’t have to say anything about Jerusalem and Jerusalem Day. Devoted Jews have faced Jerusalem in prayer daily since the time of King Solomon. All over the world and all throughout our history, our eyes and hearts have been turned only to the place the Torah calls ‘the place God chooses’.

But something must be said.

So I will refer us to a famous narrative concerning Rav AY Kook, when the nations of the world questioned the Jewish place in Jerusalem, and the place of Jerusalem in Jewish hearts and Judaism.

“Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook recalled the tremendous pressures placed upon his father that evening in 1930 in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem.

“How intense, how grave, how terrible were the threats and intimidations at that time, with all of their bitter pressure, from two nations [the Arabs and the British] goading us with lies and murderous traps for the sake of an agreement to relinquish ownership over the Kotel, the remaining wall of our Holy Temple…” (LeNetivot Yisrael vol. I, p. 65)

The infamous Hajj Amin al-Husseini was appointed Mufti of Jerusalem — the spiritual and national leader of the Arabs — already in the days of the first British High Commissioner. One of the many devices that he and his cohorts employed in their struggle against the Jewish Settlement was the repudiation of all Jewish rights to the Kotel HaMa’aravi, the Western Wall.

The Arabs gained a partial victory in 1922, when the Mandatory Government issued a ban against placing benches near the Wall. In 1928, British officers interrupted the Yom Kippur service and forcibly dismantled the mechitzah separating men and women during prayer. A few months later, the Mufti and his cohorts devised a new provocation. They began holding Muslim religious ceremonies opposite theKotel, precisely when the Jews were praying. To make matters worse, the British authorities granted the Arabs permission to transform the building adjacent to theKotel into a mosque, complete with a tower for themuezzin (the crier who calls Moslems to prayer five times a day). The muezzin’s vociferous trills were sure to disturb the Jewish prayers.”

The rest may be read here: www.ravkooktorah.org/YOM_YER65.htm

See too this excellent and unique post with photos from shortly after the liberation: www.templeinstitute.org/temple_mount_liberation.htm

Also posted at www.kolberamah.org.

4 comments on “Yom Yerushalayim

  1. Shofar blowing, indeed. The man who blew the shofar at the Kotel in defiance of the British prohibition to do so was Rav Moshe Segal. He was one of our heroes in yeshiva. One of the most fascinating figures in Chabad of the time. He was one of the very first to return to live in the Old City after it was liberated in ’67. Google him. A real inspiration.

    Here is a link to the story about him, and Rav Kook’s intervention:http://www.ravkooktorah.org/YOM_KIPPUR_66.htm

  2. At one point during the British Mandate, the sounding of the shofar at the Kotel was forbidden. However, that didn’t stop dedicated Jews from praying Neilah on Yom Kippur at the Kotel, or from sounding the shofar to mark the end of Yom Kippur. As described in Simcha Raz’s book about R. Aryeh Levin, A Tzaddik in Our Time, the shofar after its illegal sounding would be passed from hand to hand until it was far away “as in elegant football play” but the courageous shofar blower would be arrested and imprisoned by the British for “offending the sensibilities of the Muslims.”

  3. According to one of the narratives about the Kotel in Rabbi Kasher’s book (see my posting above), if you stick a nail into the Kotel and then balance a ring on the nail, the ring will sway and move ever so slightly due to the emanations of holiness; the movement of the ring will be perceptible to the eye.

  4. There is a lovely little book called The Kotel Hamaaravi – The Western Wall, an English translation of the Hebrew original by Rabbi Menachem M. Kasher. My husband’s best friend gave it to us when we got married years ago as a wedding gift. (It’s somewhere in my house, I have to track it down). Aside from relating some fascinating narratives about the Kotel in rabbinic literature, plus translations of prayers to be recited at the Kotel, the book includes some very moving and historic photos of the Kotel (the Kotel in World War I, the Kotel in June 1967 right after liberation, the Kotel at Chanukah, the Kotel at Tisha B’Av, and the Kotel and a mass Birkat Kohanim held during Chol HaMoed).

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