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Dvar Torah: Bamidbar

"And there are none who visit the Temple Mount and the Old City." -- Yerushalayim Shel Zahav, Naomi Shemer


"Jerusalem was not divided among the tribes," the Gemara tells us. Jerusalem is, of course, a part of the land of Israel, and lies on the border between the tribes of Yehuda and Binyamin. Still, even so, it was not divided between them but was instead left as neutral territory which belongs to every tribe, to every member 0of the people of Israel. Why was this so important?

Jerusalem, in biblical times, was a small city. Not that many people lived there. But three times a year it would swell, (on Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot) absorbing many times its inhabitants. Briefly, it would go from being a small walled town which primarily served as a home for the Temple and as an administrative centre to an enormous metropolis, filled with a significant portion for the people of Israel. The Jerusalem that we remember, the Jerusalem that we dream of, is not the small town, it is the city which belongs to all of us, where all of us can find our place.

Jerusalem is the holiest city in the world. However, the holiness of the city, which emanates from the Temple, is about the people who are there. It is defined by the presence of those who feel that holiness and react to it, to those who visit the old city and Temple. And so, the famous song mourns for the absence of all those people between 1948 and 1967.

In 1967 a miracle happened. The people came back. Jerusalem got much closer to what it had once been, and to what it was meant to be. As we wait for the ultimate redemption, we celebrate the return of our people to our home, our spiritual centre. And so, every year we mark the wonder of Yom Yerushalayim and praise G-d for what he did to make all the many miracles of our lives possible. We invite everyone to join us for Kabbalat Shabbat this week as we particularly celebrate all that Jerusalem is, and all that it can be.

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