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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays Jerusalem Day

"Lift Up Your Voice"

"Lift up your voice." Concerning Jerusalem, there is a need to speak up, a need to encourage. There is a need to infuse new spirit into those dry bones, and say, 'Here is your God!'
3174
Dedicated to the memory of
R. Meir b"r Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld
Click to dedicate this lesson
1. Passover and Shavuot - Bound Anew
2. Two Levels: A Jewish Approach
3."Lift up your voice with strength."
4. "The word of God will stand forever"


Passover and Shavuot - Bound Anew
In the cycle of the years, in the order of the generations of Israel, there exist two holidays that are uniquely bound to one another - Passover and Shavuot. It is the bridge-like link of the Counting of the Omer that bonds these two festivals together.

In this very same period we have merited the appearance of two more days of significance which possess similar meaning, a meaning which is especially relevant in our times and brings to life the ancient traditions of the giving of the Torah and the Exodus from Egypt: The fifth of the Hebrew month of Iyyar - Israel's Independence Day, a day of pride for the Jews, both in Israel and in the Diaspora; and the twenty-eighth of Iyyar - Jerusalem Day, a day which symbolizes freedom, holiness, the union between the Jews and their Torah, and the union between the Jews and the holiness of the Land of Israel. The two holidays that were, and continue to be linked to one another - Shavuot and Pesach - are bound anew by virtue of Independence and Jerusalem Days.

Two Levels: A Jewish Approach
"I am God your Lord. I brought you out from Egypt, where you were slaves. I broke the bands of your yoke, and led you forth with your heads held high" (Leviticus 26:13). Scripture makes use of the Hebrew word "Komamiyut" in order to express the term "heads held high." The word "Komamiyut," though, lends itself to other understandings as well. The sages of the Talmud interpreted it to imply "two levels." These two levels reflect a distinctly Jewish approach. It is our plea and our hope, the dearest of values: that the great House of Israel should consist of two levels. The first level is that of the state, a level of independence and physical freedom. The second is a spiritual level that rests upon the physical existence and rises above it, sustaining it and giving it validity, meaning, and purpose. The one cannot exist without the other.

We existed in the lands of the Diaspora as well, but as Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Kook zt"l explains at length, that was an abnormal existence That was an existence of the upper level without the lower level, a spiritually erect existence without national vitality. That is not a normal existence. That is not natural. That is not the way God wants the Jews to appear in the world, and that is not the way God wants the Jews to present themselves. Two levels together constitute the true stature of the People of Israel.

On the twenty-eighth of Iyyar, this bond revealed itself once more. For almost twenty years, we were cut off from our life source; we were cut off from the Wailing Wall, cut off from the most holy of places - Jerusalem. We saw her from far off, yet we could not touch her cold stones, those stones which evoke the tears of every Jew, regardless of background. We witnessed this for ourselves when the paratroopers, who merited being the first to reach the Wailing Wall, kissed those cold stones. They claimed that their tears came forth without their even realizing it, without knowing what drew them to the Wall or what it was about her stones that moved them.

There was a wall in the heart of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, at that time, was divided in two and cut off, until at last the wall fell, the wall that divided between Israel and the holiest of places. It fell, and we hope that it will never return. We pray that a wall like that one will not rise again. We hope that a wall will rise, but not a wall that divides Jerusalem. Rather, "a wall of fire surrounding her, and I will be the glory in her midst" (Zechariah 2:9).

"Lift up your voice with strength"
The Prophet Isaiah speaks words of prophecy and words of consolation,
"Go up onto the high mountain, bearer of good tidings for Zion; lift up your voice with strength, bearer of good tidings for Jerusalem; lift it up and do not fear, say to the cities of Judah, 'Here is your God!'" (Isaiah 40:9).

"Lift it up and do not fear." Yet, what was there to be afraid of? Why did Isaiah need to encourage the nation so at that time? When the Prophet Isaiah prophesized of the second redemption - which, had the Jews been worthy, would have been the final redemption - there was concern that they would be afraid to say, "Here is your God!" Therefore, Isaiah had to encourage the Jews, saying to them, "Do not fear, say to the cities of Judah..." - Announce it loudly, do not be embarrassed. "Lift up your voice with strength, bearer of good tidings for Jerusalem."

There is Zion and there is Jerusalem. Zion represents the Jewish kingdom. Zion is the City of David. It is the seat of the kingdom. "Go up onto the high mountain, bearer of good tidings for Zion." Zion is the state, the government. Zion is the kingdom, and as such, it is recognized though its flag. The kingdom must be recognized from afar; its presence must be felt. "Go up onto the high mountain, bearer of good tidings for Zion."
Jerusalem is holiness. The kingdom serves as a mere foundation for her. Jerusalem is the upper level. We see that the government celebrates Independence Day with drums, flags, and parades. Jerusalem day, though, bares a different, calmer character. A more inverted nature. It possesses more of a meditative, contemplative nature. "Lift up your voice." Here, concerning Jerusalem, there is a need to speak up, a need to encourage. Here there is a need to infuse new spirit into those dry bones.

"Lift up your voice with strength." With strength. With that very same strength which we find being revealed in the passage, "The voice of God is with strength" (Psalm 29). Back then, each and every one of us felt and knew that not our strength and not the power of our hands were responsible for what had come about. It came as a surprise, that the little Jordanian king should have seized the opportunity. When he noticed that we were busy on the other front, he too awoke. I remember those days. I recall walking home from "Heichal Shelomo." I remember shots from the direction of the Old City slicing the air from time to time. They were the shots of the Jordanian legion who, seeing their opportunity, pounced at the heart, the center, the seat of Jewish rule, thinking "Destroy it, destroy it to its very foundations" (Psalm 137:7). It was at that point, with no desire whatsoever, and with great difficulty that we were dragged into confrontation. Yet God was at our side, for, "The voice of God is with strength." That was the strength that we possessed. "Lift up your voice with strength, bearer of good tidings for Jerusalem." Today, too, we must make it known and emphasize that it was divine strength that assisted us. We did not initiate the war. Israel never looks for war. Today as well, we are not interested in war.

Yet, we cannot part with our life source, the site of the Holy Temple. Our prophets and sages dreamed concerning this place. This is the place from which the Torah must go forth. We refuse at all costs to relinquish it, and all such plans will end in failure. No such plan will ever succeed in materializing. Jerusalem will remain with us forever, and the Land of Israel will reach the boarders that God promised us. So it was and so will it be, and God will be with us. This is the message which Jerusalem's liberation carries for us. This is the message that Jerusalem Day delivers us as it links up with Independence Day, and fills it with spirit and soul.

"The word of God will stand forever"
At present, the national spirit is worn and something must be said. "Do not fear!" says the verse. What precedes this passage? "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of God will stand forever" (Isaiah 40:9). Why the broken spirit at present? Why are our hands irresolute? Do we not see that God has been guiding us continuously right up until present? Can we possibly be lacking the ability to sense and understand this? At that time, the period of Koresh's rule when Isaiah was prophesizing concerning the return from Babylon to Zion, there was a moment of awakening, during which Koresh was being referred to as Messiah. It appeared as if we were about to receive a state and everything that accompanies it. Then, suddenly, adversaries slandered and spoke against Jerusalem. Consequently, a royal decree was received, ordering the discontinuation of the building of the Holy Temple. It was then that Isaiah the Prophet spoke, saying, "Who are you that you fear a mortal man and the son of man who is made like grass?" (Isaiah 51:12). "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of God will stand forever." This is the lesson that we must remember today as well; this is the message of Jerusalem Day and Independence Day.

There are those who would like to fold up the Israeli flag and to diminish her borders in retreat. Yet, they are not aware of the true implications, that, as our sages teach: "flight is the beginning of the end." We must stand firm with the resolve of the eternity of Israel. That which was in our power until now will continue to be so.

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they who love you shall prosper" (Psalm 122:6). The peace of Jerusalem will be accompanied by the peace of all the Jews. May God place peace upon us, so that we merit witnessing the unification of hearts as we witnessed the unification of Jerusalem.
May God allow us the merit bringing the entirety of the People of Israel back to the entirety of the Land of Israel, speedily in our days, Amen.


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