Sunday, May 13, 2007

United or Divided?

This Tuesday is Jerusalem Day.

The day we celebrate the miraculous military victory in the Six-Day War, 40 years ago.

The IDF reclaimed Jerusalem, and more specifically the Old City and the Western Wall, as well as what we know today as Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Israeli leaders always promise they will maintain a “united Jerusalem.”

This means (I think, depending on who says it) that Jerusalem will always remain the undivided capital of Israel.

Whatever that means.

But the more immediate question is why has Jerusalem Day become almost the exclusive property of Jerusalemites and the Religious Zionist community ?

Unlike Independence Day, which is a national holiday (with a handful of exceptions), Jerusalem Day is just a normal working day.

And if you took a random poll on Tuesday outside Jerusalem, I’m not sure that even 30% would know what day it was.

Jerusalem may be united but the Israeli public are divided.

Why?

There are many explanations of course, but I would guess that one of the main reasons is that the majority of Israelis simply do not appreciate what Jerusalem
means.

It is not just another city like London, New York or Paris (with all due respect to those wonderful places of course.)

Paris is named after the Greek myth. Paris chose the love of the Helen of Troy as opposed to the options of wisdom and power.

And London comes from a Celtic word meaning “wild and wooded town.”

Jerusalem was allegedly named by God. It’s a combination of two words: ‘yira’ – to see, and ‘shalem,’ which
means ‘complete’ or ‘peace.’

Jerusalem is a metaphor for the vision of a perfect world. It gives us perspective on our lives, as Aldous Huxley once said, “We have each of us our Jerusalem.”

Jews prayed “Next Year in Jerusalem” for over 2,000 years of exile. Despite oppression , poverty and disease,they preserved the dream of a world of
love and justice; a world where the rich looked after the poor and power did not corrupt.

The Talmud says that creation began in Jerusalem, and the world radiated outwards from there.
Medieval maps show Jerusalem at the epicenter of Asia, Europe and Africa.
The world flows into this spot, and Jerusalem gives perspective to the rest of the world.

Even when the Jewish people were far away from Jerusalem, we never forgot. We never despaired. Never gave up hope that the place where Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac would once again return to Jewish hands.

Jerusalem represents the eternity of Israel. Of the Jewish people. Jerusalem is an idyllic vision of God
in our lives.

An image of a perfect world.

Jerusalem reminds us of Israel’s greater purpose in life. Like it or not, Israel is a nation unlike any other. Period.

Like it or not, the Jewish people has a responsibility to the world. A ‘Jerusalem’ responsibility. A vision of perfection and peace.

It won’t be easy. And we won’t be uniting the world this Tuesday.

Because before we do that...

We must unite ourselves.

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