Arutz Sheva Israel National Radio
Broadcast on Sep. 29, 1999 / Tishrei 19, 5760
In This Article:
1. Jerusalem and Sukkot
2. Mt. of Olives - East of Jerusalem
3. A Critical Year Ahead
4. Reclaiming Our City
5. It's Up To Us!
JERUSALEM AND SUKKOT
Jerusalem and Mt. of Olives stand at the center of the haftarah (public
reading from the Prophets) that we read on Sukkot. The passage, from the
book of Zechariah, chapter 14, tells us that in the future, woe will be to
those nations of the world who do not arrive in Jerusalem to celebrate the
holiday of Sukkot, and a great plague will befall those who fought against
Jerusalem. The holiday of Sukkot, on which are brought 70 sacrifices on
behalf of the 70 nations of the world, will be the time when all the
nations and the entire world will finally appreciate the place of the
Nation of Israel and that of Jerusalem.
A special focus in this haftarah is placed on the Mt. of Olives: "Then
shall the L-rd go out and fight against those nations. And his feet shall
stand that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the
east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split along its middle by a very
great valley from east to west. Half of the mountain shall be removed
towards the north, and half of it - towards the south."
MT. OF OLIVES - EAST OF JERUSALEM
The description of the Mt. of Olives as east of Jerusalem is very
significant. East of Jerusalem was always very important - the Geonim used
to arrive from there, and the Mt. of Olives was always a place where Jews
would stand and look out onto the remnants of the Holy Temple when they
weren't allowed to enter the city itself. Here, atop this mountain, was
where David prayed while running away from King Saul. On Hoshana Rabba
(the seventh day of Sukkot) a special, important, well-known, and holy
Hoshanot ceremony was held, in which Kohanim (priests) holding willow
branches would walk around the mountain. There are Geonic reports of this
ceremony, and Kabbalistic writings about what will happen in the Redemption
process when this ceremony - the forerunner of today's twice-yearly massive
Priestly Blessing at the Western Wall - is renewed.
A CRITICAL YEAR AHEAD
In the politics of today, too, this year may well have critical
implications for the future of Jerusalem and Mt. of Olives. This could be
the year in which the nations of the world will attempt to determine the
fate of the Jerusalem, and the Arabs will likely attempt in various ways -
including terrorism - to separate us from the eastern half of Jerusalem and
Mt. of Olives. They will make every effort that we should not come to
visit the ancient Mt. of Olives cemetery, or Yeshivat Beit Orot, or Ir
David (the City of David, just below Dung Gate and the southern entrance to
the Western Wall). They will do their best that we should not live in this
entire area, east of the Old City of Jerusalem, the area known as the City
RECLAIMING OUR CITY
This could also be the year, too, in which maps will be drawn, and we will
see whether the city is truly united - not only in declarations, of which
we hear many from our politicians: "eternal capital, united forever, etc."
- but also in practice. If you have a car, you should try to get out and
take trips in the different parts of our capital, and you will see that
great efforts are being made in truly making this city totally Jewish. We
are working on this very hard - myself, and many others - not only in Beit
Orot, and not only in the Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood. Many many lands
in Jerusalem and environs are owned by Jews and can be reclaimed.. These
include a clear majority of the lands surrounding Jerusalem, including the
Temple Mount - from the Kidron, from Shimon HaTzaddik, the University
(known as Tzurim Valley), the Valley of Yehoshaphat, the Valley of the
King, the ancient and holy Jewish cemetery on Mt. of Olives, the City of
David, the Ben Hinnom valley - all along the east half of Jerusalem.
Our presence must not only be under the ground, in the cemetery, but also
above ground, with Jews walking there on Shabbatot inside the eruv, with
schoolchildren on trips in their capital, walking along the green patches -
all this is not only possible, but it must be done. This is what will
determine the fate of Jerusalem, and will decide: Will the nations despair
of dividing Jerusalem, while we determine facts on the ground to perpetuate
its genuine unity? Or will we be like those who merely parrot
declarations, but don't get up and do anything? Unfortunately, there are
those who do this - sitting in the Diaspora, every year they recite "Next
Year in Jerusalem," in the full knowledge that next year they will be
exactly where they are now.
IT'S UP TO US!
This is the test that all of us will face this very year - there is nothing
more urgent than this. The status of Jerusalem will be determined by us.
I would be happy to meet each of you personally to walk around the various
parts of Jerusalem and show how we are investing efforts, and how we must
continue to do so. We are the Nation of Israel, returning to its Land and
returning to its City, the Eternal City. May the words of the Prophet
Zechariah - in the above chapter - be fulfilled: "On that day, He and His
Name will be one."
Chag Same'ach, and we hope to see you - walking in Jerusalem!
Rabbi Benny Elon, a Knesset Member of the National Union party, headed the
Beit Orot Yeshiva in eastern Jerusalem.