Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk

Yerusholayim- the Holy City



   Three thousand years ago, King  David chose Yerusholayim as the capital of Israel. The Torah tells us in Shmuel II VI:12, 14-15, “and David went and brought out the Ark of God from the house of  Obed-Edo into the city with joy…….and David danced before the Lord with all his might……so David and all the house of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn.”

    In memory of that first sounding of the Shofar so many years ago, the Chief Chaplain of Israel’s Armed Forces, Brigadier General Rabbi Shlomo Goren, sounded the Shofar at the Western Wall of the Temple at 10:15 on June 7th 1967 on the liberation of Jerusalem from foreign occupation (There is no “Wailing Wall”. That term is an anti-Jewish epithet.).

   Yerusholayim is indeed a very ancient city. Its first recorded mention is in the so-called “Execration Texts”. The word “execration” is the same as our word “sacred” and refers to the ancient Akkadian language which was written with Egyptian hieroglyphics (holy carving) or picture writing. These records indicate that when King David designated Yerusholayim as the capital of Israel 1000 before the common era, it was already 900 years old.

   Now all readers of Torah know that it was under King Solomon, David’s son, that the city reached its zenith when Solomon built the first Temple there. This made Yerusholayim not only the capital of Israel but the center of Jewish religious life throughout the world. Thus, Yerusholayim has always been the united capital of Israel and the spiritual home of every Jew as we say each Pesach, “L’shonoh habah b’Yerusholayim.”

   Although the Temple was destroyed by the Babylonian tyrant Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C.E., it was rebuilt seventy two years later under Ezra and Nehemia. That was the end of the kingdom of Israel, the northern part of Solomon’s kingdom. The southern part called Judah remained, so that thereafter its inhabitants and descendants were called Judeans, or Jews, by the Romans. Those Jews who had returned from Babylonian captivity continued under the oppression of numerous empires until the Hasmonean revolt of 167 B.C.E. which led to the liberation of Israel for only one hundred years. When the Romans came they destroyed the second Temple in 70 C.E., and laid waste all of Israel after the revolt of the Jews under Bar Kochba from 70-132 C.E.  It was then that the Romans  renamed Israel PALESTINA with reference to the ancient Philistines who no longer existed, even then. It was the purpose of the Romans to obliterate the name Israel forever. In fact, at that time it appeared certain that Rome would last forever and that Israel was no more.

   Now look on any map and you won’t find a Roman empire. But Israel exists. Not because Israel was suddenly reborn in 1948 but because it never ceased to be. From the ruins of Jericho to Herod’s temple, Israel’s history is carved in stone and cannot be denied except by bigots of all kinds who would rather see Yerusholayim destroyed entirely than see it ruled by Jews.

   Governed by Greeks and then Muslims, Yerusholayim was captured by the Christian crusaders in 1099. They, in turn, were defeated in 1187 by Sal ad Din, also known as Saladin, the Muslim Kurdish ruler.  Then, in 1517, the Turks captured Yerusholayim and held it until the British came in 1917. During all those years, Yerusholayim had about 16,000 inhabitants who were living behind the walls erected by the Turkish sultan Suleiman I between 1538 and 1541. Almost all the inhabitants were Jewish.

   After the invasion of Israel by Britain in 1918, innumerable Christian missionaries came to Yerusholaym in the hope of converting the Jews living there. Between 1800 and 1875 5000 books were published about Yerusholayim. The city then had ten gates of which five were used in the 19th century.  Outside the walls there was only desert.

   Then, early in the 20th century, Sir Moses Montefiore, the first Jew ever to be knighted by the British, used a legacy of Judah Touro, a wealthy American Jew, to build the first residence outside the walls of Yerusholayim. Thereafter, nine new neighborhoods were built in Yerusholayim during British rule and much more after the liberation of the city from the Arab allies of Britain by Israeli forces in 1967.

   At the time of the liberation Yerusholayim had been occupied by Arabs for 19 years. During those years not one Jew of any nationality was ever allowed to pray at the Western Wall. In fact, the Arabs used Jewish gravestones to build latrines and destroyed all 58 synagogues under their control.

   During those 19 years no one argued that Yerusholayim should become internationalized. No one, other than Jews, cared about religious freedom or access to Jewish holy sites there.

   Now, that Israel has once more established its capital in Yerusholayhim and given all religions free access to their holy sites the same people who cared not one whit that Jews were excluded from Yerusholayim for 19 years are still not satisfied. They shout that Israel should hand Yerusholayim to the so-called United Nations, an organization dominated by Israel’s enemies. They say that Yerusholayim should be “internationalized”. Why not “internationalize” Rome, Paris or Berlin?

   They pretend that somehow their “rights” are not secure under Jewish rule. They worry about the Philistines or “Palestinians” who came there only after Israel was rebuilt by Jewish effort, blood and money to seize what is not theirs.

   Today, Yerusholayim has a total population of 662,000 of whom 482,000 are Jewish. As always, Yerusholayim has a large Jewish majority. There can be no doubt, therefore, that it is a Jewish city as it has been for 3000 years and as it will be for more than another 3000 years because, as the Torah teaches, “Kee Mitzion tetseh Torah u’dvar Hashem Mirusholayim” for “Out of Zion shall come forth the Law and the Word of the Lord from Yerusholayim.”

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