Next Wednesday we will be celebrating “Jerusalem Day”.
Here are a few facts and the background associated with this very special event.
Jerusalem Day is a national holiday marking the liberation of the city and its reunification after the Six Day war.
The day is held on the 28th of the month of Iyar (usually from mid-May to the end of the month,) the day Israeli soldiers liberated the eastern part of the city in 1967.
Jerusalem was divided from the War of Independence in 1948 until 1967. The western part of the city was in Israeli hands, and the eastern part – excluding an Israeli enclave on Mount Scopus – was under the control of the Jordanian kingdom.
After the eastern part of the city was liberated, the walls dividing the city were torn down and three weeks later the Knesset enacted legislation unifying the city and extending Israeli sovereignty over the eastern part.
The day marking this event was decided upon one year later to celebrate the unification of the city and the Jewish peoples’ connection with Jerusalem throughout the ages.
Let’s take a look how our sages relate to verses in "Song of Songs" to the Western Wall.
“The voice of my Beloved! Behold it came suddenly to redeem me, as if leaping over mountains, skipping over hills. In His swiftness to redeem me, my Beloved is like a gazelle or a young hart. I thought I would be forever alone. But behold! He stands behind our wall, observing through the windows, peering through the lattices.” (Song of Songs 2:8-9)
The Midrash says:
"Behold ― He stands behind our wall" ― this refers to the Western Wall of the Temple. Why so? Because God has sworn that it will never be destroyed. (Midrash Rabba, Song of Songs 2:4)
Rabbi Eliezer said: The Divine Presence never departed from the Temple, as it is written, 'For now I have chosen and sanctified this house so that My name shall be there forever and My eyes and My heart will be there all the days' (II Chronicles 7:16)... Even when [the Temple] is destroyed, it remains in its sanctity... Even when it is destroyed, God does not leave it.
Rebbe Acha said: Divine Presence will never depart from the Western Wall, as it is written, "Behold ― He stands behind our wall" (Midrash Rabba, Exodus 2:2)
When Vespasian had subdued the city, he assigned the destruction of the four ramparts to the four generals.
The Western Wall was allotted to Pangar. Now it had been decreed by Heaven that this should never be destroyed because the Divine Presence dwells in the west. The others demolished their sections, but Pangar did not demolish his.
Vespasian sent for him and asked, "Why did you not destroy your section?"
He replied, "By your life, I acted so for the honor of your empire; for if I had demolished it, nobody would know (in the time to come) what it was you destroyed; but when people look at the Western Wall, they will exclaim, 'Behold the might of Vespasian from what he didn't destroy!'"
(Midrash Rabba, Lamentations 1:31)
During the 2,000 years of the Jewish exile many wars have been fought over Jerusalem. Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuilt no less than 9 times.
But through the centuries, one symbol has miraculously remained intact - the Western Wall הכותל המערבי.
It represents the indestructibility of the Jewish people.
Orly & Yoel