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The Divrei Torah in this section have been translated by Rav Reuven Ungar, Director of Alumni Affairs

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Yom Yerushalayim and the Mikdash.

By: Rav Yechezkel Yakovson

A. "Yom Yerushalayim" is the day that we thank Hashem for the miracles that he performed for us 39 years ago during the Six-Day War. Amongst the general acknowledgement of the salvation we specifically thank Hashem for meriting us to return to Jerusalem and to the location of the Temple (Mikdash).

Anyone who remembers those days (I was so privileged- I remember them well), recalls the feeling of "I called out to you Hashem from the narrows, and You responded me with boundless Divine salvation". Within a few days the Jewish People experienced a change from a precarious situation to one of greatness. An isolated, puny and weak people, surrounded by armies dedicated to their destruction, emerged victorious. The area of the State of Israel was enlarged 500%, and above all, we returned to Jerusalem and to the location of the Mikrash. Thus, in addition to Yom Yerushalayim constituting a day of praise and gratitude to Hashem, we are obligated to analyze the concepts of Jerusalem and of the Mikdash.

B. Jerusalem and the Mikrash were always central to the Jewish People. Nevertheless, we notice several distinctions between the first Mikdash, whose foundation was established by David HaMelech and was completed by Shlomo HaMelech, and the second Mikdash that was built in the era of Ezra and Nechemia. Let us focus on a central, fundamental difference between the two Batei Mikdash.

The gemara in Masechet Sanhedrin (19b) states that the establishment of the Beit Mikdash is subject to a specific order. The Rambam in Hilchot Melachim codifies the following statement: "The Jewish People were commanded to perform three specific (communal) mitzvoth upon entering The Land- appointing a king, eradicating the descendants of Amalek, and building the the Chosen House (Beit HaBechira- Beit Mikdash)." It is apparent in the words of the gemara and of the Rambam, that the order is exact- a gradual process is ordained to fulfill these three mitzvoth.

The initial phase is the establishment of the monarchy, followed by attaining control of the Land of Israel (exemplified by eliminating the enemies, with a special emphasis on Amalek). Only after the successful fulfillment of the first two mitzvoth is the Beit Mikdash fit to be constructed. Indeed, almost 500 years elapsed from the entrance of the Jewish People into The Land before the First Beit Mikdash was built by Shlomo. David was approached by Natan the prophet concerning the Beit Midkash subsequent to achieving a state of tranquility from his enemies.

Jerusalem did not reach her due prominence until David established it as the capital and transported the Ark of the Covenant to her. Thus, in the era of the First Beit Mikdash, Jerusalem and the Mikdash were developed subsequent to the fortification of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel. A nation exists, it securely exercises control over the Land. The king rules over his capital city.

Yet, a central location to serve Hashem is sorely lacking. A nation and monarchy have been established- the next stage is to attain the status of a holy nation (mamlechet Kohanim vegoy kadosh). Thus, the first Beit Mikdash is constructed by Shlomo at eh height of his monarchy; indeed the era that has marked the zenith of the grandeur of the Jewish commonwealth.

C. The return to Zion in the era of the Second Beit Mikdash featured a sharply different sequence of events. At the initial phase of the return to Zion in the era of Ezra and Nechamia, Yerushalayim and the Mikdash were virtually the only locations that the Jewish People could claim possession to. National growth in the Land of Israel stemmed from Jerusalem and the Mikdash (as opposed to the previous era when Jewish development in the Land of Israel generated the growth and development of Jerusalem and the First Beit Mikdash).

Koresh permitted aliya to the Land of Israel in order for the immigrants to build the Beit Mikdash in Jerusalem (Ezra, Chapter 1). The Jewish commonwealth in the era of Ezra was woefully lacking in representing a thriving monarchy. The majority of the nation resided outside of The Land. Those Jews who ascended to Jerusalem, were surrounded by enemies who opposed the return to Zion and the rebuilding of the Beit Mikdash. Precisely the existence of the Beit Mikdash prodded the Jewish People to settle and build the Land of Israel.

D. The Rambam (Hilchot Beit HaBechira, Chapter 6, halacha 16) focuses on the halachic diffences between the two Batei Mikdash. "Why do I maintain (that in the era of the First Beit Mikdash) that the sanctity of the Mikdash and of Jerusalem remained intact (subsequent to the destruction), while the sanctity of the remainder of the Land of Israel in relation to The Sabbatical year (Shemita) and to tithes (Ma'asrot) did not remain (subsequent to the destruction)? Because the sanctity of the Mikdash and of Jerusalem is generated by the Presence of Hashem (Shechinah) which can not be annulled...however, the sanctity of The Land (that generates the obligation to observe Shemita and Ma'asrot) is predicated upon military conquest (kibush) of the Land of Israel by the Jewish People. Once control of the Land was relinquished to the foreign entities, the kibosh was annulled...When Ezra ascended to The Land, he sanctified it through settlement (chazaka). Thus wherever the Jews who ascended in the era of Ezra settled The Land, it is sanctified - even in the lack of control of The Land."

Many commentators experienced difficulty in comprehending this passage in the Rambam. Rav Soloveitchik (in his volume Al HaTeshuva) provides the following analysis. Ezra sanctified the Land of Israel via the Shechina of the Mikdash (which is not subject to nullification). As we have previously outlined, the settlement of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel in the era of Ezra was generated by the Mikdash and by Jerusalem. This stands in stark contrast to the era of the First Beit Mikdash and what preceded it), when the settlement of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel preceded the prominence of Jerusalem and the construction of the Mikdash. Thus, the sanctity of The Land stemmed form military conquest- that was removed upon military defeat.

E. Thus in the era of the First Beit Mikdash, Jerusalem and the Mikdash represented the zenith and culmination of the Jewish commonwealth; in the era of the Second Beit Mikdash, they functioned as the starting point for Jewish growth in the Land of Israel. We mention Jerusalem twice in the amida prayer (Shemoneh Esreh). In the prayer for the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Boneh Yerushalayim) we refer to Jerusalem as the cornerstone for establishing the monarchy of the House of David (vechesay David avdeycha mehara lethocha tachin)- similar to the era of the First Beit Mikdash. In the prayer relating to the return of the Shechinah to Zion, we focus upon Jerusalem as the spiritual capital of the Jewish People- the location from where sanctity flows to all Jews.

F. Let us return to the Yom Yerushalayim and tremendous occasion of those six days. At that awesome time we encountered the two faces of Jerusalem. The IDF entered Jerusalem as a mighty, victorious army; the Jewish people ruled over terrain that had not been in Jewish control since the days of David and Shlomo. Indeed, we merited the Jerusalem of Jewish dominion of the Land of Israel, the Jerusalem of victory- Boneh Yerushalayim!

Those exalted days marked a religious awakening as well. Days of yearning, days of returning to our source, days of recognition of the unique nature of the Jewish People.   It was apparent that the Jewish People are bound to sanctity and to the Mikdash. Who can forget the trembling that grasped us upon hearing the proclamation that the Temple Mount was in our hands? Who can forget the paratroopers who wept at the Kotel? We experienced the Jerusalem of "He who returns His Presence to Zion".

G. With pain and anguish we must admit that we were not equipped to utilize those exalted times as a springboard for future times. Indeed, subsequent to those days we experienced spiritual and physical downfalls. Nevertheless, those days revealed the heights that we can attain. This is connected to the quality of "Zion". The numerical value of Zion and Yosef is identitcal (156). The Midrash Tanchuma (Parshat Vayigash, 11) comments that all the negative and positive events that Yosef experienced occurred to Zion as well.

We believe and are confident that just as Yosef ascended from the pit and rose to the throne of royalty, likewise Zion will rise from darkness to great light- speedily and in our days.


Categorized under: 1: Chagim > Yom Yerushalayim
Uploaded: 5/22/2006 8:55:55 PM