Beit Midrash

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To dedicate this lesson
For over a half century, around the time of Yom Yerushalayim and soon before Shavuot, we get to read Parashat Bamidbar. Let us take a look at the connection between Yerushalayim and the desert.

Hashem told Yirmiyahu: "Go and call out in the ears of Yerushalayim: So says Hashem, ‘I remember for you the kindness of your youth, the love of your nuptials, your going after Me in the desert, in an uncultivated land’" (Yirmiyahu 2:2). This seems difficult. Was it Yerushalayim that followed Hashem out of Egypt, wasn’t it Bnei Yisrael, well before the period that they inhabited the Holy City? It is possible that Yirmiyahu was speaking to the Jerusalemites of his time as representative of Bnei Yisrael of all generations. The disciples of the Gra taught us a new insight based on gematria – "Yerushalayim shel ma’ala" (Heavenly Jerusalem) and Knesset Yisrael (the community of Israel), as well as sefirat ha’omer, share a numerical value (1071). We will give an example from recent history how Heavenly Yerushalayim protects our nation and strengthens belief in Hashem’s providence.

One of the things that the Gra instructed his students before their aliya was to build the "Churva (Ruins) of R. Yehuda Hechasid," which had been in ruins for a century since Muslim marauders destroyed it. The Gra’s simple intention was just to build a worthy symbol of the rekindling of the love between Hashem and His nation who were yearning to return to Yerushalayim.

A century after the rebuilding, the War of Independence broke out between the Jews of the infant state and neighboring armies, the most prominent of which was the Arab Legion of Jordan, which was trained and commanded by experienced British officers. The latter was in charge of capturing Yerushalayim and especially its ancient areas, in which the Churva was prominently located. The Muslims were upset because its dome was higher than the Al Aqsa Mosque. On Lag Ba’omer of 1948, the Legion succeeded in capturing the area and went about blowing up the shul, which brought great sadness to the Jewish community. At the same time, the Jordanians celebrated with great zeal as they destroyed this symbol of Jewish Jerusalem. They shot ammunition in the air for so long that they ran low on ammunition. Normally they would have just replenished the supply, but a miracle happened. The British, who were generally supportive of the Arabs, initiated an arms embargo on the region, which was wonderful considering that they had never supplied the Jews any arms. This miraculous chain of events was a major factor in the failure of the Arab Legion to advance much beyond the Old City. (A further miracle off the battlefield was Israel’s obtaining arms from Czechoslovakia.)

We can also see in hindsight how Yerushalayim shel ma’ala, which already accompanied Israel when they were in the desert, also accompanied Knesset Yisrael during the time of sefirat ha’omer in 1948. Once again in 1967, the Jordanians attacked Israel and were defeated by the IDF, returning the sons to their boundaries, including the entire city. This exhilarating event provided the momentum for a leap in the development of the young country.

This week we celebrate the unification of the city, as we hopefully complete the recovery from a dreaded pandemic and the broad troubles it caused us.

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