Dean of the Zomet Institute
“Atchalta D’Geulah” – the Beginning of Redemption
“And he will leave at the Yovel and he will return to his heritage... And if a man sells a house of dwelling in a walled city...” [Vayikra 25:28-29].
“‘ A man’ refers to the Holy One, Blessed be He. If he sells a house of dwelling – this is a house where G-d appears, meaning the Temple. A walled city is Jerusalem , as is written, “Jerusalem surrounded by mountains...” [Tehillim 125:2]... The verse returns to explain the situation: How can it be that G-d will sell His heritage, the holy Temple? [The answer is that] this is the way leading to redemption! This is similar to what is written, that G-d vented His anger on wood and stones, because if this had not happened not a single remnant or refugee would have remained. (Midrash Tehillim 79.) And if Yisrael would not exist there would be neither the Temple nor Jerusalem. But there will be redemption for the nation and for the Temple, for there is hope. “And the children will return to their boundaries” [Yirmiyahu 31:16].
[An extract from Or Hachaim , commenting on the above verse.]
The Tidings of Mashiach in Six Days of Redemption
This week we mark 50 years since the salvation that took place in the Six Day War. A full Yovel (50 years) has passed since the liberation of Jerusalem and the site of the Temple, which are “the house of dwelling and the walled city” mentioned in this week’s Torah portion, according to the above quote from Or Hachaim. “He [the ‘man’ - the Holy One, Blessed be He] will return to His heritage.”
Not everybody has had the privilege of feeling the beating of the wings at the arrival of the Mashiach, the fluttering of the soul, and the heart-felt yearnings, in the wake of the uplifting-caressing awesome-glorious contact which we experienced in 5727 (1967). We remember the feeling, we achieved our freedom at the cost of blood, fire, and pillars of smoke (see the Haggadah of Pesach) – an additional stage in the process of redemption, in the wake of other “beginnings” in 5708 (1948 - the establishment of the State of Israel), the Balfour (modern-day Koresh?) Declaration in 5678 (1917), and many other “awakenings from below” taking the form of Aliyah by many members of “Chovevai Tzion” and by rabbis imbued with the yearning for redemption.
One of the most remarkable of these men was Rabbi Chaim Ben Atar, who came from the “west” (that is, Morocco) to Jerusalem in the year 5502 (1742), where he lived for one year, until he passed away. According to tradition (from Vilna?), in this one year he wrote his monumental work of commentary on the Torah “ Or Hachaim” while sitting underneath a fig tree on Or-Hachaim Street, in the Old City of Jerusalem. In this outstanding book he included, among other things, yearnings for redemption, calculations of the time when Mashiach would come, “Zionist” calls for an awakening “from below,” and criticism of great men of Yisrael who failed to raise the banner of redemption. His grave on the Mount of Olives was redeemed in 5708, and “he returned to his heritage.”
Shaking the Very Fibers of the Nation’s Soul
It is very clear to everybody that the surprising victories of the Six Day War rocked the foundations of the Jewish nation to the core, and turned the gaze of the people towards Jerusalem. As part of the resulting chain of events, we were privileged to witness the arrival of more than a million olim from the lands of the former Soviet Union, with tens of thousands more from western countries, south America, and all the corners of the globe. They all returned like “doves to their cotes” [Yeshayahu 60:8]. After the earlier round of ingathering of the exiles after the establishment of the State of Israel, this was a second wave, more massive than before, in the wake of the liberation of Jerusalem. Most exciting of all was the dramatic return of the children of Zion from the exile of Ethiopia, accompanied by their yearning to reach the goal of “Orsalem,” as the name of the city was pronounced by their trembling lips, after their journeys through parched deserts fraught with danger.
Even if we pull ourselves away from exalted thoughts, we must admit that the place of the State of Israel among the other nations of the world and the status of the Jews in all the exiles would have remained in a completely different state if not for the “awakening” of the salvation of the Six Days, which caught us all in the stormy time of 1967. And the coals continue to warm us, a full 50 years later.
Would we Prefer an Embassy, or – On a Different Tack – the Temple Mount?
On the anniversary of the outbreak of the Six Day War, on Monday, the 26 th of Iyar, the current President of the United States, Donald Trump, might well announce the transfer of the United States embassy to Jerusalem. Soon after he was elected I wrote in this column that I am full of trepidation about the heavy political price we might be asked to pay for such a “gesture.” I warned that we should not put our faith in the kindness of foreign kings even if “we have a little sister” [Shir Hashirim 8:8] in the palace. I hope and pray that I will be proven wrong this week, even though this would go against usual political practices.
As far as I am concerned, I would leave the embassy on the beach where it is (unless it could be moved inside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem – is there any possibility of this happening?). For me, it would be sufficient for the Israeli government and its advisors to take complete control over the Temple Mount – “a house of dwelling in a walled city” – with massive support by Mr. Trump and his advisors.
Here’s the “deal” – Let the American Embassy remain in Tel Aviv in return for full Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount.