07 May 2013

Happy Jerusalem Day

28 Iyyar 5773
Day 43 of the Omer

In honor of Yom Yerushalayim, I'm sharing an excerpt from something I wrote eleven years ago...


Sunlight sparkles radiantly off of her time-worn stones. Moonlight bathes her in luminescent beauty. At dusk, she is an apparition, a dream of prophets and priests, pilgrims and the pious. At dawn, she is the immortalized city in Israel’s favorite song Yerushalayim shel Zahav - Jerusalem of Gold.

”If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill. Let my tongue adhere to my palate if I fail to recall you, if I fail to elevate Jerusalem above my foremost joy."

How arrogant of Rome to call herself “The Eternal City!” Jerusalem was the capital of a vast kingdom, the focus of a sophisticated form of religious worship and the center of the most progressive system of civil law in the world for two hundred years before Rome arose as a collection of primitive huts in 750 bce.

No woman’s name has ever been whispered with such love and adoration as Jerusalem; inspiration of poets and mystics and driving force of bloodlust throughout the centuries. She sits enthroned at the center of the world. King David called her “fairest of sites, joy of all the earth.”

Jews the world over and through all generations have venerated and paid homage to her by turning their faces her direction three times a day in prayer, always with a request for her welfare - for 3,000 years. She is The Holy City.

There is a legend that Jerusalem disguises herself as an ugly beggar woman to those unworthy of her, but reveals herself in all her glory and beauty to those who truly love her. Often one reads or hears of rhapsodies to Jerusalem in which one claims Jerusalem as his own - ”My Jerusalem.” But, she is too ancient and too exalted to belong to any mortal being. At most, all we can hope for is that she will take us in and let us belong to her.