Jerusalem Day Explained

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” For the Lord, your God, goes along in the midst of your camp, to rescue you and to deliver your enemies before you…” (Deuteronomy 23:15)
Every year, on the 28th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar (this year it falls out on Sunday the 17th of May), the Jewish People celebrate an incredible victory over the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian armies during the Six Day War. Yet the real celebration concerns something far greater than merely a military victory which enabled the tiny Jewish State to continue to survive… After a war in which Israel, which had been completely outnumbered, thrashed all three armies in a glorious triumph over its enemies in six days, it had, unknowingly, gained control over the Jewish holy sites to which it had lost access in the independence war in 1948.
Without actually realizing what had happened, the Jewish People had returned to its ancient, sacred sites. They had returned to the Old City of Jerusalem, wherein lies the Temple Mount and its supporting Western Wall. They reentered Hebron, the burial place of the forefathers and foremothers Abraham and Sara, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah. They were able to access and pray once again at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and at her son Joseph’s tomb in Shechem (Nablus). They rediscovered the ancient ruins of the city of Shiloh where the Tabernacle had stood for 400 years and the ancient city of Bet El where Jacob had dreamed of angels descending and ascending a ladder to the heavens. They returned to the ancient city of Gamla in the Golan where a coin had been minted two thousand years previously, reading: “To the Redemption of Jerusalem”. They discovered an ancient town in the Katzrin in the Golan where the Synagogue and its floor mosaic dates back to the second Temple period. The Land of Israel had reacquired its soul; its spiritual roots.
The Jewish People had dreamed for thousands of years to return to the Promised Land, the land of its ancestors. The land they had received and defended in 1948 had been bereft of many important signs and evidence of their glorious and age-old history. For 19 years, after Jordan had expelled the Jewish inhabitants of the old city of Jerusalem, the Jews of Jerusalem had walked, on the Festival of Weeks, to the closest point where they could catch a glimpse of the Temple Mount from a distance. The longing was great. Not one of those gazers had dreamed that within less than two decades, that site would once again be accessible. They had never thought that once again Jews would pray for the reconstruction of the Temple at the Western Wall.
The Muslim world demands that ancient Jewish holy sites be given over to the Palestinian Authority. Thus, Jerusalem Day, or perhaps “Jerusalem, Hebron, Shechem, Gamla, Bethlehem day” has become controversial. Many Israelis really believe that these areas “belong” to the Muslims and must be “returned”. But God had other plans in 1967, and Divine intervention is the trademark of the Jewish People.
This year, on the eve of the 28th of Iyar, religious Jews throughout the country will gather in synagogues to thank God for returning the spirit and soul of the Land of Israel. They will recite the Thanksgiving Prayer as well as chapter 107 of Psalms:
“Give thanks to the Lord because He is good, for His kindness is eternal.
…He makes a desert into a pool of water, and a wasteland into springs of water…And He settles the hungry there, and they establish an inhabited city….The upright see and rejoice, and all injustice shuts its mouth.
He who is wise will keep these in mind, and they will ponder the kind deeds of the Lord.”

Published: May 11, 2015
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