Monday, May 14, 2007

Yom Yerushalaim: A SECOND MATAN TORAH!

On Yom Yerushalaim, starting Tuesday night and continuing on Wednesday, we will be blessed with another obligation to celebrate a holiday which appeared in our generation. But since Yom Yerushalaim is so new, we really need to ask ourselves an important question: What is the meaning of Yom Yerushalaim? What are we celebrating and what are we supposed to learn from it?

The most famous sentence used in order to describe Jerusalem in Tanach comes from tehillim:

“ירושלים הבנויה :כעיר שחוברה-לה יחדיו” – “Jerusalem, which is built like an
interconnected city”- Tehillim 122

There is a disagreement in the commentary as to what exactly is interconnected in Jerusalem. Some say that it is Yershalaim Shel Maala, the spiritual and Godly Jerusalem, and Yerushalaim She Mataa, the Jerusalem of this world. Others say that it is Am Israel which is interconnected together through Jerusalem. Since Jerusalem is the center of Jewish life, and since they used to go there 3 times a year, all of am Israel would connected together through Jerusalem.
Rav Mordechai Elon SHLI”TA explained that really, the two commentaries do not disagree. If Yerushalaim Shel Maala is representative of the Godly Presence, then really, it is when two people look at each other that one can find the Godly spark in this world, since it is found in every Jew. Thus, by connecting Jews together, Jerusalem is also connecting Yerushalaim Shel Maala and Yerushalaim Shel Mataa.

What is clear from all of this is that Jerusalem, the capital city of the Jewish People, is the eternal symbol of Jewish Unity and Nationalism.

So, what is Yom Yerushalaim?
Technically, Yom Yerushalaim is the day of the most obvious miracle in modern times, where Jerusalem became once again connect, united, into one whole city.

Rav Oury Cherki explained once that, while Yom Haatsmaout is the day in which we celebrate Jewish Independence, Yom Yerushalaim is the day in which we celebrate the land of Israel, since most of the biblical cities were only liberated then. In other words, while on Yom Haatsmaout we were out of the Egypt, but still in the desert, on Yom Yerushalaim we really got inside Erets Israel. While this explanation makes sense, I think we can explore much deeper into Yom Yerushalaim!
If Jerusalem is the symbol of Jewish Unity and Nationalism, then Yom Yerushalaim is the day in which Am Israel was able to really find once more its National Unity. Yom Yerushalaim is that day where we were able to once again make Jerusalem in the centre of our lives, not just on a theoretical level (like during all the years of galut), but also lemaaseh, in a serious active level, by visiting it and living in it.

Rav Moti Elon once said: “The same way Yom Haatsmaout is connected to Shevii Shel Pessah through At B”ash (click here for shiur on Yom Haatsmaout), Yom Yerushalaim is connected to Matan Torah (Shavuot) since its starts the week in which Shavuot will fall (the week of Malchout in sfirat haomer).”

I think that we can now start to understand that statement. In the introduction to Derech Hashem, the Ramchal explains that there are two parts to the learning of Torah: The Klal and the Prat. The Klal is the general idea which Torah tries to give over while the pratim are the small details of halacha through which the idea is communicated. The Ramchal tells us that he wrote the book of Derech Hashem in order to teach us the Klal because if we do not know the klal, it would be impossible for us to really understand the pratim since in order to really understand them, we need to know the place they have in communicating the more general idea.
In other words, in order to really understand the details of halacha, we need to know which broader idea they want to communicate. One can be learning halacha and gemara all day his whole life without ever really understanding anything about broader Judaism.
In the gemara, Rabbi Akiva hints to us what is the main klal on which all of the torah rests. He says: “ואהבת לרעך כמוך – זה כלל גדול בתורה” – “Love your neighbor as yourself is a big “Klal” in the torah”.
What Rabbi Akiva was trying to tell us is that the big klal which all the pratim of the torah comes to express is “ואהבת לרעך כמוך”- national unity. In other words, the true message of the torah is National Unity.

Now we can understand why Yom Yerushalaim is a new Matan Torah. If Yom Yerushalaim is the symbol of National Unity, and the Torah all really about National Unity, then, when Jeruslem came back under our control, it was like receiving the Torah once again. It was a second Matan Torah!

On Yom Yerushalaim, we received a new opportunity to follow the Torah based on its true klal of “ואהבת לרעך כמוך”. We received the Torah for a second time! I think it is important here to explain one of the biggest misconceptions in the modern Jewish World. People think that in the Modern State of Israel there is much less unity then what there was in Poland or Morocco. This is completely untrue! Let me explain myself: When we were in Poland and Morocco, it was very easy for Polish Jews to love Moroccans who lived so far away, and Moroccan Jews to love Polish Jews who lived so far away. Even in America where you can find a city of Polish and Moroccan Jews, its much easier to like each other when you go to different synagogues. Its very easy for the religious and secular to co-exist when they see each other only on Yom Kippur. Its very easy for two people of the same type to like each other when there is always the possibility for a break off minyan whenever there is a problem!
However, this unity is very superficial. True unity comes through friction. In Medinat Israel, all types of jews are uniting their destiny into a common destiny. They vote in elections for a common leader. They fight in wars for each other’s survival. Now, the friction can cause a bit of sparks of fire, but in the end, when happens is that through friction, we can also mold our nation into a united nation. On Yom Yerushalaim, we got the symbol of this unity back.
I think that we can now relate this whole discussion with Rav Cherki’s explanation that Yom Yerushalaim was the day we got Erets Israel once more.

Rashi and the Ramban both said that Mitsvot were only meant to be lived in Israel, and that the reason we practice them in Chuts Laaretz is simply in order to remember them in order to be able to do them once more when we get back in Israel.

Before going on: Some people get almost insulted when they hear this because they then think all their Judaism is useless in Chuts Laarets. This is not true. On a basic level, Judaism is about following God’s will and God’s will is for you to follow his mitsvot even in Chuts Laarets. The only thing is that the reason for you to follow them in chuts Laarets is just as a reminder while in Israel, it is for the real reason. But what is that real reason anyways and why is it not valid outside of Israel?

We just saw that the real reason for all of torah, including all the small mitsvot, is National Unity. When we went to Galut, this reason became secondary to the spiritual quest of individuals. It became almost impossible to speak of National unity because we were so dispersed. The biggest group of people people could speak of is the community. Therefore, it was impossible to live Judaism based on its true Klal of National Unity.
Therefore, in Chuts Laarets, we only have mitsvot in order to have reminders. Mitsvot remind us that we’re Jewish, they protect us of assimilation etc… The truth is they also provide us with spiritual benefit but the most important part of Judaism. It’s important, but its not THE MOST important part. Truth be told, spirituality can be found anywhere. What is special about Judaism is the National aspect of our moral message.In Erets Israel, and especially when we have Jerusalem as our capital city, then, we can start really doing the mitsvot once more.
On Yom Yerushalaim, we got our national unity back, we got our torah back, we got our mitsvot back, we got erets Israel back. On Yom Yerushalaim, Am Israel turned from a nation seeking survival to a living nation.
On Yom Yerushalaim, Am Israel became Am Israel once more.

Its mamash a new Maamad har Sinai. It’s a new Matan Torah!


G said...

Seriously, relax :)

Dan said...

lol I don't get what you're referring to haha