Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why Jerusalem?

I was shocked by Tomer Devorah's post about the EU's planned announcement that Jerusalem should officially be the capital of a 'Palestinian' state. It is on one hand extremely upsetting, and on the other hand extremely exciting, as we watch the drama unfold right in front of our eyes.

We all know that the Neviim spoke of a war that would be led by Gog and Magog and would center around Jerusalem. This would be the final war where Moshiach would vanquish the forces of evil. We need to stop and ask ourselves, Why Jerusalem? What is it about Yerushalayim that makes it the center of this epic battle? Why do the Arabs want Jerusalem so much, and how is it conceivable that they have their mosque sitting on our Holiest place, the Har Habayis?

We know, as per the Gemara in Kiddushin in עשרה יוחסין that Israel is the highest land in the world, and Jerusalem is the highest point in the world. This is meant in a spiritual sense, and the concept is also said in a slightly different way, that Jerusalem is the meeting point between this physical world and the spiritual world. Har Habayis was the place of the Akeida, the field that Yitzchak would daven in, the place of Yakov's dream. This all represents the singular primacy and focal point that Yerushalayim is.

But it is much deeper than this.

We start to see the beginnings of a hint from a statement of Chazal. They say that during the time that the Jewish people are not inhabiting the land of Israel, there is another nation that has the merit to be the 'tenants' while we are gone. That nation is the people of Yishmael. What did Yishmael do to deserve this honor? He had the merit of the bris, which he performed at the age of thirteen. The obvious question arises - why is this the merit that gives Yishmael the right live here? Yishmael, the son of Avraham, was also trained in chessed and hospitality toward guests (as Rashi notes in the story of Avraham and the angels). Why is it specifically the mitzvah of Milah that earns Yishmael this honor?

The answer here has to do with the deeper meaning behind the bris. The circumcision represents the removal of the barrier between the physical and spiritual worlds that was brought about by the sin of Adam Harishon. Before Adam sinned, he did not have a foreskin. After the sin, the foreskin grew, representing the barrier he had created between the male and female forces of creation. The male forces are the spiritual forces, the forces that give, and the female forces are the physical forces, the forces that receive. Avraham, whose job would be the tikkun of the sin of Adam, was commanded in the mitzvah of Bris, removing that barrier. Yishmael, his son, also performed that mitzvah at the age of thirteen.

For this reason, those who are שומרי הברית - who keep this covenant of the circumcision, recognizing the holiness of the connection between male and female - they are the ones who have the land of Israel. As the long as the Jews were doing their job, we were able to retain the land of Israel. As soon as we were thrown out, specifically the people of Yishmael, who keep the bris, merited to be the 'tenants' of the land. This is because Israel represents the highest point in the world - the connection between the male/spiritual elements of creation and the female/physical elements of the world. (This is not to say, heaven forbid, that women are less spiritual than men. In fact, the opposite is true. This just means that the male concept, which is infinite potential, best represents the spiritual, while the female concept, which is about limiting and building, best represents the physical.)

Thus, each of the points in the land of Israel that represent a higher level of connection are still currently occupied by the Yishmaelim. Take, for example, Chevron. The cave of Machpela (as we discussed in the Parsha Podcast from R' Chaim Friedlander) is a point of connection between the physical realm and the spiritual realm when the soul departs the body. Shechem, which is home to Yosef Hatzadik's body, also represents this connection, as we will see soon. Most outstandingly, Yerushalayim, which is the highest spiritual point in Eretz Yisrael, and specifically the Har Habayis, are occupied by the Yishmaelim. They would claim that they are the spiritual heir to this place, and that they are commited to the concept of the bris - the commitment to keep the spiritual and physical worlds bound together.

It is as if we are watching the spiritual show that is going on in Shamayim, right here in front of our eyes, only in a physical version of it. Imagine that the angel of Yishmael is standing before Hashem, claiming that Yishmael does a much better job of keeping the covenant. Yishmael deserves to have all of these places that represent this connection that the people of Yisrael are not deserving of. Esav's angel (the ס"מ himself!) steps into the fray and supports the claim of the angel of Yishmael. "Certainly Yishmael deserves to have Har Habayis. They have kept the covenant! I will make sure that Yisrael loses any claim to it. Only Yishmael can have Har Habayis."

Now, we know that when the ס"מ gets up to speak, Hashem always lets him have a chance to show that he is right. But the amazing thing is that Hashem always uses the ס"מ himself to accomplish the redemption He is bringing about.

We could wonder, Who is the angel of the Jewish people, and why is He quiet? The answer is that Hashem is the 'angel' of the Jewish people. He is quiet, because He knows the truth. The truth is that only the Jewish people have kept the covenant all of this time. The people of Edom (the Christians) claim, to this day, that they have replaced us. The people of Yishmael (the Muslims) claim that they have replaced us. Yet, we were promised so long ago that Hashem would never forsake us, and that He would return us to our Holy Land of Eretz Yisrael one day, and bring a tremendous war and a great salvation to His chosen nation. We have witnessed the fulfillment of the promise that we would return. We soon will witness the fulfillment of the promise of miracles and salvation.

It will come through Moshiach ben Yosef. Do you know why? Because all of these claims about Israel and Jerusalem, in a deeper and more spiritual realm, center around the קדושת הברית, the keeping of the Holiness of the covenant. This means that the Jewish people are enjoined to use their sexual energy only in a holy, spiritual, and uplifted way. This is the mitzvah of being careful not to be מוציא זרע לבטלה for a man, and the mitzvah of tznius - modesty - for a woman. These keep our claim on Israel strong, because this land, and specifically the city of Jerusalem, is the connecting point between the spiritual and physical realms. Moshiach ben Yosef is about the keeping of the covenant. He is about struggling with temptation, and ultimately triumphing over his desires for the physical, raising them up to the spiritual (as we see from Yosef himself). Every Jew who fights in this battle, and does not give up despite his many falls, is giving power to Moshiach ben Yosef, and to the Jewish people, to reclaim our spiritual homeland. This is the deeper meaning of the passuk "שבע יפול צדיק וקם" - seven times does the righteous one fall and arise. Moshiach ben Yosef is the צדיק יסוד עולם - the righteous one who holds up the world. He falls seven times, and constantly rises. We, the Jewish people, are the Moshiach ben Yosef of Mankind. Israel is the Moshiach ben Yosef of the world. We may rise and fall many times, but ultimately, together, we connect Heaven and Earth, the spiritual and the physical.

The place of Shechem is the place of Moshiach ben Yosef. It is also the first place that Avraham visited when he came to the land of Israel for the first time. It is the first point of connection. It is the place where Yakov stopped on his way back to Eretz Yisrael. It is the place where Dina was unfortunately violated, again a point of connection, seemingly for bad. Nevertheless, this connection (as we mentioned in a previous post) would result in a child who would marry Yosef himself. It is not a coincidence that this very place was a piece of the process (pun intended) that was brought to us by the Erev Rav to try and destroy Israel and the Jewish people's claim to it. The Erev Rav, like Edom, only wishes to remove the Jewish people from the covenant. They could be described as the foreskin of the Jewish people. They wish to instead support the Ishmaelite claim of spiritual superiority.

I think it is clear that Yerushalayim is the point of connection that the people of Yishmael try to usurp from us, with the aid of the people of Edom and the Erev Rav. The more we see this happening, the more we can be assured that soon Moshiach ben Yosef, who represents the Jewish fidelity to the covenant, will stand up to defeat the forces of Evil with his spiritual power. He will defeat the people of Edom and the Erev Rav, and bring about the removal of the people of Yishmael, and the reinstatement of the Jewish people as the true bridge between Hashem and the world, in our land of Israel, which is the physical manifestation of that very bridge. He will thus pave the way for the advent of the final tikkun of Moshiach ben Dovid, בב"א.

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