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Beit Midrash Series Parashat Hashavua

“Yerushalayim, the City That Was Connected Together”

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Sefer Bamidbar describes the life of a nation that was in the Sinai Desert in between the exodus from Egypt and the entrance to the Land. At this time of year, during sefirat ha’omer, we are experiencing Yom Yerushalayim and Shavuot. The former commemorates the unification of the Holy City and the liberation from our enemies’ occupation. Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah in the desert. Let us take a look at the connection between these times and events.
The navi speaks words of consolation: "Go and call out in the ears of Yerushalayim: ‘So says Hashem: I have recalled the kindness of your youth, the love of your time of marriage, when you went out to the desert, to a land not sewn’ " (Yirmiya 2:2). One can ask: did Yerushalayim go to the desert? The simple explanation is that the pasuk refers to Yerushalayim’s residents, whose forebears went out to the desert. Parenthetically, there are parallel p’sukim (31: 1-2) that talk about the early commitment of the nation and the love Hashem maintains for it. As a result, the navi promises liberation for the kingdom of Shomron and a return to Yerushalayim (ibid.:5).
Another explanation of Yerushalayim in the desert is brought in Kol Hator in the Gra’s name. The pasuk does refer to Bnei Yisrael’s following Hashem into the desert and Hashem’s remembering of them even as the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash grew near. However, Yerushalayim in the pasuk is the heavenly one (shel ma’ala). It is our job at this busy time in the Jewish calendar to turn everything into Yerushalayim shel ma’ala. The Gra informed us that "Yerushalayim shel ma’ala," "Knesset Yisrael," and "sefirat ha’omer" all have the same gematria (1071). We can elevate everything at matan Torah after the 49 days of sefirat ha’omer. Based on these connections it turns out that Yerushalayim shel ma’ala accompanied Bnei Yisrael in the times of their wandering already in the desert even though the earthly Yerushalayim was acquired only at the time of David.
David coined the phrase, "the rebuilt Yerushalayim, like a city that was connected together" (Tehillim 122:3). According to the Gra, this connection is between the heavenly and earthly elements of the city. As Midrash Tehillim says, Hashem said that He would not enter the upper Yerushalayim until He enters the lower one. The lower one took time, as Yehoshua conquered only part of it and it took time for David to determine that this was the "place that Hashem will choose from all of your tribes to place His Name there" (Devarim 12:5). It was David who dedicated his life to finding the permanent resting place for the Divine Presence (see the beautiful description in Tehillim 132) and united Yerushalayim shel ma’ala and Yerushalayim shel mata.
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