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Why Do Jews Love Jerusalem?

Why Do Jews Love Jerusalem?

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The Jews’ love of Jerusalem as Judaism’s permanent capital stems from the Torah itself. The Holy City is referenced hundreds of times throughout Tanach (the Five Books of Moses, Prophets and Writings, also known as the Written Torah). The Talmud elaborates in great depth on our bond with that city. On the other hand, it is never mentioned in the Koran, no matter what is claimed by the Muslim world.

Concerning our fixation on Israel in general and Jerusalem specifically, one may ask, “Why do we focus so much attention on one place? Is G‑d’s presence not found everywhere?”

The question may be broadened regarding time as well. We can ask, “Why are certain days considered holy? Can G‑d’s presence not be experienced at any time?”

The answer is it is true that G‑d’s presence can be experienced everywhere at any time. That is because G‑d is unlimited, and indeed created both time and space, and so He is superior to both. Nonetheless, the Torah (a creation of G‑d that also supersedes time and space) decrees that there are special times and special places.

As the Torah represents G‑d’s immutable will, we see that the holiness of Jerusalem does not waver nor diminish. It has always been, and will always be, the holiest place in the world.

In fact, we find that the holiness of Jerusalem surpasses that of Mt. Sinai. That is because the holiness revealed on Sinai came through G‑d’s initiative and revelation to the people. The people themselves did not cause the giving of the Torah to occur. On the other hand, the holiness of Jerusalem was cemented by the efforts of humankind. It was human hands that built the Holy Temples and consecrated the ground of Jerusalem. This adds to its permanent holiness.

King David, great prophet that he was, purchased the land for the Holy Temple from the local inhabitants, knowing full well the holiness of the site. It was, after all, on that site that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice. It was on that same site that Jacob laid down his head and had his prophetic dream of angels on the ladder. The site of the Temple is a veritable gate to heaven found here on earth.

The Jewish heart stirs upon approach to the last remnant of the Holy Temple that we have. The Wailing Wall, also known as the Western Wall, was built as a retaining wall during Herod’s renovations of the Temple Mount above it.

Oh, the stories the stones could tell! All of the heartache and suffering of Jewish history is contained in those massive stones. Millions of tears have been shed, and millions of prayers have been uttered, in that holy place. The lower stones have been polished by the hands leaning on and caressing them, as countless Jews have touched their hallowed surface, attempts to touch the “Face and Heart of G‑d,” as it were.

Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort is director of Chabad at La Costa, California, and welcomes readers' comments and questions.
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Discussion (12)
March 6, 2014
Time to go back to Jerusalem
yaacov
maui
May 9, 2013
City of Gold
Jerusalem has its claims on the hearts and minds of people who come from all walks of life, practice a diversity of religions, and it is a deeply spiritual place. It's true that so much bloodshed, so much history lies within its walls, and there is a feeling, that Jerusalem is deeply sacred. It's almost impossible to describe this adequately with words. It simply IS. For some inchoate reason there is a Biblical presence here, throughout Israel, that is palpable, as if, as is written, the stones are speaking. We say, Next Year in Jerusalem, and that has a very prophetic ring. I believe there is a story, a vast cosmic story that the "Lord" of the Rings has written that surrounds all of our lives, and that Jerusalem, is both a place within our hearts, and a real geographical setting, "The" gem stone. And so it feels like this story will not be completed until there is peace in Jerusalem and Israel, and I believe, this has to involve everyone, as in, totally shared, fellowship.
ruth housman
marshfield hills, ma
May 9, 2013
Torah
You say Jerusalem is mentioned in the entire Tanach including the Torah, the 5 Books of Moses. Where in the Torah is Jerusalem mentioned? And if it isn't, does that affect your thesis?
Marty
Denver
May 8, 2013
psalm 122:6
Also written in the Psalm 122, verse 6 "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall Prosper who love thee." Since the Psalms were written by King David, shows that Jerusalem is Israel's capitol.
Sientje Seinen
Canada
May 8, 2013
yerushalayim
Yerushalayim is the place of Shalom and where the Heaven and earth gets mingled.
I'm happy to share it is the capital of whole universe.
Also it is meant for victory.
sharolsamuel
India
May 7, 2013
Capital of judaism
Very nice article, the autor is right when he calls Jerusalem the eternal capital of judaism. It's just important to mention that judaism is not the same thing as the state of Israel, Israel is just a modern polítical entity and it dones not represent judaism, which is much older and broader. Jerusalem will continue to be judaism most sacred place, even if it's not some state capital.
Arie
May 7, 2013
Not just our heartache and suffering ...
Yerushalayim is the symbol of unity and our deepest joy and solidarity as Jewish people. It was where all people from all creeds and nations came to worship -COMMUNALLY- the One, Sovereign God of the Universe.
Eli Gazman
USA
November 8, 2012
Jerusalem Israel's capital
I believe anyone who believes the Word of G-d knows that Jerusalem is G-d's holy city as it is written in 2 Chronicles 6-6 "But I have chosen Jerusalem that My Name might be there."

Why would anyone of us question this?
Sylvia Commerford
August 16, 2006
i love it
a lovely confession from the deepest abismo of the jewish soul on their root of ladder to heaven, sure!
funny
china
August 12, 2005
This article stirs my heart and reminds me that the Almighty will gather us from the 4 corners of the world. See you there!!
Gideon
Beltsville , MD
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