|The Voice of Torah: Behar-Bechukotai|
|Written by Rabbi Chaim Goldberger|
The 28th of Iyar, will mark the 43rd anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem. The stunning recovery during the Six Day War of our most precious treasures -- the holy city and the Makom HaMikdash -- electrified the Jewish people like the strike of a lightning bolt. Many predicted the imminent onset of the Geulah Shelemah, the Final Redemption. Yet, 43 years later, we are still standing in the Amidah and reciting V'liyerushalayim Ircha B'Rachamim Tashuv -- Return with mercy to Your city. Evidently, G-d has not yet consented to restore His complete Presence to the city He delivered to us in 1967. How are we to understand the reluctance of G-d to bring this episode to its climactic final chapter?
The key, I believe, is "B'rachamim". Throughout all the years of our exile, we prayed at least three times a day that when G-d does return to Jerusalem, He do so with mercy. Imagine a king banished from his palace by a renegade battalion of his own guards. The king's loyalists desperately want the king back, but at the same time they fear what He might legitimately do upon his return to those who led the insurrection and forced him to flee. Since the battalion is made up of friends and family members whom the loyalists believe were merely misguided in their failure to recognize the outstanding greatness and wisdom of their beloved king, they are ambivalent about the king's return. So they write him daily, begging him to return triumphantly and retake the palace, but to do so in a merciful way, in a way that gives the renegades sufficient time to appreciate the king, regret their insurrection, and return to him with newfound pledges of allegiance and love.
Perhaps a sudden jolt of Jerusalem in 1967 from captive territory to the site of manifest Third Temple holiness would have been more overwhelming than our modern 20th century sensibilities could have handled. Perhaps liberation without rachamim would have seared our psyches. Hashem, it seems to me, has allowed time to pass because He is answering our prayers. He is entering Jerusalem with rachamim -- first allowing it to be built conventionally as a thriving, modern, progressive city, a city with universities and hospitals, museums and shopping malls, a city in which all Jews can find their comfort level as well as their level of spiritual connection. Only once ample time has gone by allowing us to feel Jerusalem is our home, will He take the climactic step of settling in with His Shechina to the Third Bait Hamikdash -- and make Yerushalayim fully His home as well.
May it happen speedily in our days.