Yom Yerushalayim

“זְכֹ֤ר ה’֨ ׀ לִבְנֵ֬י אֱד֗וֹם אֵת֮ י֤וֹם יְֽרוּשָׁ֫לִָ֥ם– Hashem, remind the children of Edom of the Day of Jerusalem…”

It seems odd to me, but this is the oldest source for the idiom which the Chief Rabbinate of Israel took as the name of the holiday. But what is Yom Yerushalayim?

The name of the city is a portmanteau of two words: Yeru, and Shaleim.

Yeru” derives from the Aqeidah, when Avraham finally offers the ram, and declares the future Temple Mount to be “Har Hashem Yir’eh — Mount ‘Hashem Will See'”, which, the chumash continues, is then called “Har Hashem Yeira’eh – Mount ‘Hashem will be Seen'” (Bereishis 22:14). Yeru is a place where Avraham encountered G-d, where He experienced hashgachah peraris, Divine Supervision.

Right near the place of the Aqeidah, Malkitzedeq (who tradition identifies with Sheim the son of Noach) was reigning as king of Shaleim. “Shaleim” means whole, both in the sense of lacking missing parts, and in the parts working together smoothly.

According to R’ Aryeh Kaplan, King David unified these two places into one city. (“Jerusalem, the Eye of the Universe”, pg. 46) But whether unified by him or earlier, the Psalmist does describe it as “ke’ir shechubrah lo yachdav“, taken literally: “a city which is connected for Him together.” (122:3) The City of David is a place of unity, where Yeru and Shaleim connect.

Rav Dovid Lifshitz zt”l often spoke about the connection between shaleim as wholeness, and that of another conjugation, “shalom“, peace. Shalom is not simply a cessation of violence. That wouldn’t be an expression of sheleimus, wholeness. Rather, shalom is a time when all the nations “will come together in a single union to do Your will with a leivav shaleim, a whole heart.” Sheleimus within each heart being expressed as sheleimus within humanity as a whole.

שָׁלוֹם רָב, לְאֹהֲבֵי תוֹרָתֶךָ;    וְאֵין-לָמוֹ מִכְשׁוֹל.

Shalom rav is granted those who love Your Torah, and they have no obstacles.

- Tehillim119:165

What is shalom rav? To quote an earlier post:

Shalom rav is the unity and wholeness of self that eliminates all obstacles from the path of the lover of Torah.

The rule with respect to tzara’as is “אין אדם רואה נגעי עצמו – a person [a kohein, since no one else is empowered to determine tzara'as] does not inspect his own afflictions”. This has become a rabbinical aphorism, “people don’t see their own faults”, which is probably the motivation of the law of tzara’as.

Rav Dovid elaborates on the impact of this truism. Because I can not make a realistic assessment of my own shortcomings, I can not succeed without participating in a healthy community. Thus, there can be no pursuit of sheleimus without shalom and no shalom without sheleimus! One is simply another manifestation of the other.

וַיּ֨וֹשַׁע יְהוָ֜ה בַּיּ֥וֹם הַה֛וּא אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מִיַּ֣ד מִצְרָ֑יִם וַיַּ֤רְא יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ אֶת־מִצְרַ֔יִם מֵ֖ת עַל־שְׂפַ֥ת הַיָּֽם׃ וַיַּ֨רְא יִשְׂרָאֵ֜ל אֶת־הַיָּ֣ד הַגְּדֹלָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר עָשָׂ֤ה יְהוָה֙ בְּמִצְרַ֔יִם וַיִּֽירְא֥וּ הָעָ֖ם אֶת־יְהוָ֑ה וַֽיַּאֲמִ֨ינוּ֙ בַּֽיהוָ֔ה וּבְמֹשֶׁ֖ה עַבְדּֽוֹ׃ אָ֣ז יָשִֽׁיר־מֹשֶׁה֩ וּבְנֵ֨י יִשְׂרָאֵ֜ל…

Hashem saved, on that day, Israel from the control of the Egyptians, and Israel saw (vayar) Egypt dead on the shore of the sea. And Israel saw (vayar) the “Great Hand” that Hashem did in Egypt, and the nation feared/was in awe of Hashem, and they believed in Hashem and in Moshe His servant. Then Moshe and the Israelites were singing…

Shemos 14:30-15:1

Rav Avraham Elya Kaplan, in the title essay of BeIqvos haYir’ah, writes (translation R’ YG Bechhofer):

Only if he sees (re’iyah) will he fear (yirah), and only if he fears will he repent… And from here we proceed to the fear [awe] of loftiness (“yir’as haromemus”) – that is the vision [the perception] of loftiness. From here – “The maid servant at the Red Sea saw loftier visions than the Prophet Yechezkel.” From here comes the direct view, across all the dividers, to the source of existence. This is an unceasing inner gaze toward the matter that is one’s responsibility [the bundle of his life's meaning] (that he must safeguard lest it fall…). The gaze is one that leads to remembrance, remembrance that leads to care, care that leads to confidence, confidence that leads to strength (“oz”) – an inner, bold, uplifting, strength (“Hashem oz li’amo yiten) and a strength that leads to peace (“shalom”) and wholeness, internally and externally, in thought and in deed (“Hashem yivareich es amo ba’shalom”). Indeed, This is the wisdom of life: “Reishis chochma yir’as Hashem.” A fear that is vision. “And remember” – “And see” – “Shivisi Hashem l’negdi tamid…”

Har Hashem Yeira’eh is not only the centerpiece of where Hashem’s presence can most readily be seen. It is also the source of yir’as Shamayim, the fear and awe of the One in heaven that leads to inner-strength, to wholeness, to peace, and to break out in song to Him, “in a single union to do [His] Will with a heart that is shaleim.”

Yerushalayim is where re’iyah can create shalom rav.

The call to remind Edom doesn’t end with a cry for Divine Justice. Although it is that. But it may also be seen as a call for them to remember the eventual Yom Yerushalaim, a day in which they join the union to serve G-d wholeheartedly. A day when we not only hold sovereignty over Jerusalem, not only rebuild the Beis haMiqdash, but one in which it serves as a centerpiece, a place where one experiences Hashem’s over-awing presence, and is moved to work together to serve Him.

“For from Tzion shall the Torah come, and the Word of Hashem from Yerushalaim.”
Bimheira beyameinu, amein!


PS: The JPS translation takes “Yom Yerushalaim” to be a date in the past, a day for which Edom should be judged. However, at the destruction of the first beis hamiqdash, Edom had no part in ransacking Yerushalayim. Nor were the Romans identified with Edom until the amoraim! It therefore seemingly refers to the day Yerushalayim will be reestablished, and thus their evil at the time depicted in the Tehillim is reverted. That includes both the eventual meting out of justice and the reestablishment of all the Jerusalem stands for, all they tried to destroy.

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