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8 Classic Jewish Teachings About Jerusalem

8 Classic Jewish Teachings About Jerusalem

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Jerusalem, always in our hearts. Stamped into the DNA of the Jewish people. What is so special about this city? Here are 8 Jewish teachings about the uniqueness of this sacred spot, the sadness of its destruction and the promise of its rebirth.

1. The Most Beautiful City

"Jerusalem" © by Alex Levin
"Jerusalem" © by Alex Levin

Not only was Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish nation, it is considered the most beautiful city on earth. In the words of the Talmud (Kiddushin 49b):

Ten measures of beauty were given to the world. Nine were taken by Jerusalem, and one was distributed all over earth.

2. The Gate of Heaven

"The Wailing Wall" by Carl Werner.
"The Wailing Wall" by Carl Werner.

The Western Wall is one of the most well-known sites in Israel and the world. It has another, lesser known, name as well: “The Wailing Wall.” This moniker was coined by Arabs, who saw the Jews stream there to pour out their hearts before their Father in Heaven.

The connection between Jerusalem and Jewish prayer runs thick and deep. Regarding Jacob’s sleep in Jerusalem, the Midrash (Pirkei Drabbi Eliezer 35) records:

Jacob arose in the morning and said: “The house of G‑d is in this place!” . . . From here we infer that anyone who prays in this place, in Jerusalem, is considered to be praying before the Divine Throne, because that is the place of the gate to heaven, with an open door to He who hears prayers. Indeed, Jacob says, “This is the gate to heaven.”

3. Why Was Jerusalem Destroyed?

The Destruction of Jerusalem by David Roberts
The Destruction of Jerusalem by David Roberts

Jerusalem’s stunning beauty was cut short when it was destroyed by enemy invaders, who left the city, including the Holy Temple, in ruins. The sages attribute many factors as reasons for the destruction. Here is one (Bava Metzia 30b):

Rabbi Yochanan says: Jerusalem was destroyed because [the courts] adjudicated cases on the basis of Torah law in the city. What else should they have done? Should they rather have adjudicated cases arbitrarily? Rather [the problem was that] that they established their rulings on the basis of Torah law and did not go beyond the letter of the law.

4. Mourning and Resurrection

Outside Jerusalem's Shechem Gate circa 1900
Outside Jerusalem's Shechem Gate circa 1900

The destruction of Jerusalem cut deeper than mere rock and plaster. Jerusalem in its glory was a place where G‑dliness was felt. Even today, when Jerusalem has been built bigger and bolder than ever before, we still mourn over the light-filled Jerusalem of yore. Thus, we read (Taanit 30b):

Anyone who mourns over Jerusalem will merit to see its gladness.

5. Jerusalem Above, Jerusalem Below

Jews at the Western Wall by Alexandre Bida
Jews at the Western Wall by Alexandre Bida

Jerusalem has a sister city, the ethereal “Jerusalem of above.” Corresponding to the physical city in the Judean hills, there is the Jerusalem of the spiritual realms. Obviously, this city endures forever, unaffected by enemy marauders. Nonetheless Rabbi Yochanan states (Taanit 5a):

Said the Holy One blessed be He: I will not enter the upper Jerusalem until I will enter the lower Jerusalem.

When Moshiach will restore Jerusalem to its glory, the spiritual Jerusalem will be redeemed as well.

6. A Brilliant Future

"Jerusalem" © by Alex Levin
"Jerusalem" © by Alex Levin

Thank G‑d, Jerusalem is pulsating with Jewish life. Yet the Jews in Jerusalem live under threat of terror attack. We eagerly await the day when the words of the prophet (Zechariah 8:3) will be fulfilled:

So said the L‑rd: I will return to Zion, and I will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; and Jerusalem shall be called the city of truth, and the mount of the L‑rd of Hosts [shall be called] the holy mountain.

7. From Zion

"Jerusalem of the Future" © by Michoel Muchnik
"Jerusalem of the Future" © by Michoel Muchnik

The prophet (Michah 4:2) tells of the day when Jerusalem will be the source of G‑dly awareness for all people:

And many nations shall go, and they shall say, “Come, let us go up to the L‑rd’s mount and to the house of the G‑d of Jacob, and let Him teach us of His ways, and we will go in His paths,” for out of Zion shall the Torah come forth, and the word of the L‑rd from Jerusalem.

8. It’s in Our Hands!

We can be the ones to bring Jerusalem—and indeed, the entire world—to the spiritual fulfillment for which it had been created by G‑d. The prophets (Isaiah 1:27) remind us that:

Zion will be redeemed in judgement, and her captives with tzedakah.

Through our Torah study and performance of mitzvahs, especially giving charity, we will merit the ultimate redemption.

May it be speedily in our days. Amen!

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Phil Hohnen Thailand December 8, 2017

Whilst a lot of people, especially on CNN and other far left media, ridicule Pres. Trump, he has a heart for Israel, and knows that Jerusalem will be its capital and the location of the third Temple, in perpetuity.

Well done Pres. Trump! Reply

Anonymous Southeastern PA December 7, 2017

Yesterday, American President Donald J. Trump became the first president to acknowledge that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. That was followed within hours by a similar announcement from the Czech Republic. More announcements are expected from Tanzania, Ghana, and the Philippines. I think an acknowledgment of thanks on our part is also in order to this modern-day Cyrus. Reply

Anonymous via theshul.net December 8, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

Amen V’amen! Reply

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