Why did the nascent State of Israel not conquer Jerusalem in 1948? Why was it necessary to wait another 19 years? There are, of course, realistic reasons. However, we believe that every realistic reason is coupled with a halachic one.
HaRav Moshe Zvi Neriah zt"l asked this very question just two days after the liberation of the Old City. "Why did we not merit to hold onto Jerusalem then, and why are privileged to regain control at this time?" Rav Neriah gave a beautiful explanation. The secret of Jerusalem is unity. Jerusalem is a city of unity that fosters brotherhood among the Jewish people. For this reason, Jerusalem was re-united during the Six Day War.
In the 1948 War of Independence, each fighting force went its own way; the Palmach breached the Zion Gate – the Irgun planned to attack through the Nablus Gate. We had a divided army. Had we succeeded, each military group would have claimed the City as its own. Jerusalem would have become a source of division, contention and strife. As we learned, for this reason Jerusalem was not divided among the tribes of Israel. She was given equally to all of Am Yisrael. Jerusalem must spread peace throughout the world.
During the Six Day War, our forces entered the Old City through one gate – the Lions Gate. We were coordinated and united. We had a National Unity Government. We had one united army – the IDF. Our brothers in the Diaspora stood together with us united. Only then did we merit to behold that wondrous event. Hashem returned to Zion and brought His people back to Jerusalem.
Our Sages taught us that building Jerusalem depends on unity. Even prior to the Talmudic age, they taught us that Jerusalem was destroyed due to baseless hatred. But Harav Kook zt"l taught that just as Jerusalem was destroyed because of baseless hatred, it will be rebuilt because of love for our fellow Jews.
Unity among Jewish communities in Israel and the Diaspora is always of vital importance. Uniting around Jerusalem is important to even a higher degree. This represents the true foundations of Am Yisrael, and Jerusalem, in particular.
Unity takes on special meaning when, despite differences on many levels, the Jewish people unite. On an even higher plane, unity is further strengthened when we are actually glad that within our wider circles there are those who think differently.
In order to merit a united Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and the Temple itself, we must strive to strengthen ourselves:
Make every effort to achieve unity;
Try to focus on what unites us, rather than what divides us;
To connect to and love our fellow Jew, even when there are differences;
To desire Jerusalem, as our Sages tell us: "Jerusalem must be desired!";
To dream of Jerusalem, to come visit and take part in building the city;
To assume responsibility for Jerusalem and the Temple;
To accept Hashem as our King now and forever;
To accept commitment to Halacha and to Klal Yisrael;
And, b’ezrat Hashem, we will be privileged to witness the building of our Holy Temple and the coming of the complete redemption very soon. Amen!