Why does Jerusalem have a central place in Jewish thought?
The 28th of Iyyar, Yom Yerushalayim celebrates the miraculous events of the Six Day War in 1967 and specifically the return of the Old City and Temple Mount to Jewish hands. Jerusalem is far more than just the political capital of the State of Israel. For over 2,000 years, Jews across the globe have faced Jerusalem three times a day and prayed for our return to Zion. At every Jewish wedding we mention Jerusalem and at the Seder and after Yom Kippur we declare our hope that next year we will be in the rebuilt Jerusalem.
When the Rabbis of the Talmud refer to Jerusalem as the centre of the world, they do so metaphorically rather than geographically. This echoes the words of Isaiah, 'from out of Zion shall go the Law, and the word of G-d from Jerusalem.' Jerusalem is seen as the spiritual centre of the Jewish people, a place of wisdom, prayer and spirituality. In Biblical times we were told to visit Jerusalem at least three times a year to immerse ourselves in its holiness, to learn from the people who live there and to draw inspiration from the values that they espoused.
So too nowadays Jerusalem is more than a physical location, it represents the eternity of the Jewish nation, the miracle of our survival and the beauty of our heritage.
- May 15th 2012