Home Opinions Ideas Why do we care so much about Jerusalem anyways?

Why do we care so much about Jerusalem anyways?


Why is Jerusalem special?

If you ask one who is immersed in Halachah, the answer is simple: Jerusalem obligates us with unique mitzvot. The pilgrimage of aliyah l’regel brought millions of Jews into Jerusalem for the holidays. Josephus wrote of a year when 256,500 Passover sacrifices were brought, and estimated at least 10 people shared each one, for a total of more than 2.5 million visitors to Jerusalem for Passover that year!

When you turn to the mystic, there is another answer: Jerusalem is the centre of the universe. The Midrash Tanchuma says, “The land of Israel sits in the middle of the world, and Jerusalem in the middle of the land of Israel.”

The mystical view is well-travelled and even makes its way into popular culture. Jerusalem is different because God lives there, and when visiting the Kotel, one puts in a kvitl (note of prayer). Everyone does: presidents, prime ministers, actors and rock stars. They are closet mystics who see Jerusalem as a place very close to God.

However, not everyone is a mystic. But even rationalists can appreciate Jerusalem’s story. And the historian would answer that Jerusalem is special because it has a remarkable history.


The personalities who walked the streets of this city have transformed the world. The founders of Judaism lived here: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, David and Solomon, Isaiah and Jeremiah. The list goes on and on. Jerusalem’s influence is not restricted to Judaism. The founding personalities of Christianity and Islam were inspired by Jerusalem as well.

Those who know this history are immediately affected by Jerusalem. Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman wrote of the time Neil Armstrong visited Jerusalem:

“When American astronaut Neil Armstrong, a devout Christian, visited Israel… he was taken on a tour of the Old City of Jerusalem by Israeli archeologist Meir Ben-Dov. When they got to the… Temple Mount, Armstrong asked Ben-Dov whether Jesus had stepped anywhere around there. ‘I told him, “Look, Jesus was a Jew,”’ recalled Ben-Dov. ‘These are the steps that lead to the Temple, so he must have walked here many times.’”

Later in the conversation, Armstrong asked, “So Jesus stepped right here?”

“That’s right,” answered Ben-Dov.

“I have to tell you,” Armstrong said to the Israeli archaeologist, “I am more excited stepping on these stones than I was stepping on the moon.”

If you ask a historian what is special about Jerusalem, they will tell you it is a place that has changed the world.

So here we have the answers of the halachic man, the mystic and the historian. But I believe there is one answer that exceeds them all: the answer of the simple Jew.

When I was seven, I visited Israel with my grandfather, who was 71 at the time. It was our first trip to Israel. The look Zaide had on his face upon arriving at  the Kotel was the look of a man achieving his dream.

Zaide’s dream is our dream, and our dream is an ancient dream. Jews have dreamed of Jerusalem from the moment we went into exile, as it says in Psalm 137: “If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you.”

We never forgot Jerusalem. We pray about Jerusalem every day, we pray towards Jerusalem every day, we break a glass to remember Jerusalem at every wedding, and we sing “next year in Jerusalem” at the Passover seders.  We do so in good times, just as we did in bad times in the Kovno and Warsaw ghettos, Syria, and the former Soviet Union.

Fifty years ago, on June 7, 1967, Jerusalem returned to Jewish sovereignty for the first time in nearly 2,000 years, and for simple Jews all over the world, it was a dream come true, another remarkable chapter in the history of a remarkable city.

  • TerrorIsEvil

    We often hear from Jews on the left that we must give away
    Judea-Samaria and parts of Jerusalem to establish a “Palestinian” homeland that
    they have never had in the past (recently I heard a Hillel member say the same).

    There is currently a battle for the minds of youth between what
    I call the Tikkun Olam faction that will sacrifice Israelis to reward terrorists
    vs. Jews who understand the historical, biblical and security needs of the Jewish

    I would like to ask the Rabbi how we convince leftist students
    with leftist parents (all safe in Canada) how we convince them that Israel is
    worth defending and that all of Israel (as described in the Mandate) belongs to
    Jewish people. This does not mean that others are excluded from Israel but it
    does leave out terrorists whose ideology does not allow them to live in peace
    with the Jewish people?

    It never fails to amaze me how intelligent young Jewish
    people are so eager to sacrifice their own people in Israel to ease their
    confused minds. Something has gone wrong with liberal education. The shuls also
    need to put Israel back into focus as a major part of the Jewish religion.

    • Young intelligent Jews know the truth. Political Zionism, that is using religion to steal a country from an indigenous people is wrong. It has damaged Judaism forever. The people such as yourself living in this denial have brought us all to this impasse.

      It’s very simple. No Apartheid state has a right to exist. And each and every stick that Israel has built in Jerusalem is illegal. Yes, we know now that Israel never intended to follow the law that gave the miracle of a Jewish state, going in Jerusalem and colonizing it against the partition resolution should have been the first clue to the world.

      President Truman realized it when he tried to roll back recognition and he tried to convince the British to hold onto the Mandate because any person of the day realized that handing over the already existing state of Palestine to Zionists was going to cause never end of trouble, and boy, now that Bin Laden flew those planes into the WTC because of Apartheid Israel one would think Americans would get the message.

      That’s why Bush junior and Darth Cheney tried to prevent Americans from even hearing that speech. We know that Menachem Begin was the Osama Bin Laden of 1946 with not only his criminal terrorist bombing of the King David but also the bombing of the Italian Embassy in Rome.

      It was the Irgun and Lehi who provided the blueprint for using nails in bombs in crowded markets to maim and kill women and children, it was the Irgun who planted all those IED’s to be used against the British, it was the Irgun who used child terrorists to blow things up, it was the Irgun and Hagana and Palmach who provided the blueprint to today’s Islamic state because they clearly see that terrorism and nukes work for the “state” of Israel so they obviously figure it will work for them.

      This entire mess is because Theodor Herzl created Zionism, but revisionist like Jabotinsky created the Betarim which were the mirror of the nasi brownshirts to come; his Betarim caused the ’29 riots.

      Political Zionism, a terrorist ethnic cleansing ideology, has destroyed ethical Judaism forever. When people think Jews now, they think Apartheid.

      It would be a wonderful idea if Israel would actually follow international law and get back behind the borders that it itself deemed “irrevocable” in its declaration of independence, but Israel itself revoked that idea with the more than 640,000 illegal squatters in the state of Palestine and the illegal occupation of the Golan Heights which belongs to Syria and always will but also has about 30-40,000 illegal squatters up there in the stolen wine country.

      The first thing everyone needs to do is remind themselves that there is no invisible skydaddy who hands out land deeds to chosen people. You might also review who wrote that part of the rule book…

      There is also no paradise with virgins waiting for martyrs either.

      The second thing is to admit for once and for all that Israel was carved out of the already existing state of Palestine, promised by the British self-determination and given that self-determination under Article 22, paragraphs 1 and 4 of the League of Nations Covenant. This was twenty-four years before partition.

      See the Mcmahon-Hussein letters of 1915-16 which preceded Balfour but also show why Arthur Balfour referred to Palestine as a country, because it was and is a country.

      This entire mess is about a vile ideology based on religion but also that redefines who is a Jew along the same lines that nasi Germany did. Prior to Israel’s founding Judaism was just a religion. If one changed from Judaism to another religion that was perfectly fine.

      But political Zionism made that impossible. With blood laws like the nasis.

      Under the rule of law Israel has official borders. Everyone knows where they are, and everyone knows that Israel is outside of them. This is why there is resistance. And it is the right of every Palestinian to fight against the illegal occupiers of their country and kick them out using whatever means is necessary.

      If the United Nations broke the United States in half and gave away the bigger and more arable half to say the Kurds, they have been massively wronged, then let’s see if Americans greet these foreigners to their nation with candy and kisses like you people want the Palestinians to do to Zionists.

      Fat chance. Americans would fight tooth and nail to get rid of the vile illegal occupier, and so to must the Palestinians fight against their illegal occupier just like the French Resistance did. I don’t see anyone falsely calling them “terrorists” for fighting the nasis. Since Zionists are today’s nasis, no one should have any qualms about what needs done.

      For REAL Jews, who do not support Apartheid and ethnic cleansing being done in their name, join up with other like-minded Jews and shun political revisionist Zionism before it is too late.

      The alt-right is salivating right now with their plans for real antisemitism, this fake brand, where people who are against the illegal occupation are falsely branded as anti-Semites is backfiring massively.

      Now the term is meaningless because Apartheid and ethnic cleansing are crimes against humanity, and no one is ever going to legalize them just to please political Zionism.

      Stop with this fake blaming of “liberals” or the “left” or any of that. Right and wrong is clear here. Stealing land and resources from an indigenous people by force and state terrorism is going very badly as everyone knew it would, it is getting worse, and it has to stop.

      American Jews can stop it before it is too late. I fear it is already too late. Because misinformed Hasbara trolls wax poetic on the Internet and the deed is already done. Now there is no possibility for two states, Zionist trolls have destroyed that option with their hundreds of thousands of illegal squatters. So now that the demographics have caught up to the Zionists, and there are now 6.3 million indigenous Palestinians on their own land and 6.3 million mostly transplanted European and Russian Jews on the other side, the One State(tm) inevitability is going to be very painful for the Zionists.

      You could have stayed within the borders of your state under UNGAR 181, but there were not good enough, and statehood was seen as a stepping stone to steal by force Jordan, part of Syria, Lebanon up to the Litani, part of Egypt etc.

      Zionist aspirations and the illegal land and resource grabs have ruined ethical Judaism forever. Now people just say, “oh Judaism, that’s the religion that believes in ethnic cleansing and Apartheid as the word of their god right?”

      Yep. Just like the Taliban.