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Why do Jews love Jerusalem?

by Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort

  

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The Jews' love of Jerusalem as Judaism's permanent capital stems from the Torah itself. The Holy City is referenced hundreds of times throughout Tanach. It is often referred to as "the place the L-rd will choose to establish His name therein".1 The Talmud elaborates in great depth our bond with that city.

In fact, we find that the holiness of Jerusalem surpasses that of Mt. Sinai. That is because the holiness revealed on Sinai came through G-d's arousal and revelation to the people. The people themselves did not cause the giving of the Torah to occur. On the other hand, the efforts of humankind contributed to the holiness of Jerusalem. It was human hands that built the Holy Temples and consecrated the ground of Jerusalem. This adds to the permanent holiness.

Oh, the stories the stones could tell! All of the heartache and suffering of Jewish history is contained in those massive stones
King David, great prophet that he was, purchased the land for the Holy Temple from the local inhabitants, knowing full well the holiness of the site.2 It was, after all, on that site that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice.3 It was on that same site that Jacob laid down his head and had his prophetic dream of angels on the ladder.4 The site of the Temple is a veritable gate to Heaven found here on Earth.5

The Jewish heart stirs upon approach to the last remnant of the Holy Temple that we have. The Western Wall was built as a retaining wall during Herod's renovations of the Temple Mount above it.

Oh, the stories the stones could tell! All of the heartache and suffering of Jewish history is contained in those massive stones. Millions of tears have been shed and millions of prayers have been uttered in that holy place. The lower stones have been polished by the hands leaning on and caressing them, as countless Jews have touched their hallowed surface, attempts to touch the "Face and Heart of G-d," as it were.
 

Footnotes

  • 1. See for example Deuteronomy 16:2
  • 2. Chronicles I Chapters 21-22
  • 3. Genesis Chapter 22 (Namely verse 14, Rashi on verse 2, and Bal Haturim on verses 2 and 4).
  • 4. Genesis 28:11 (See Rashi)
  • 5. Genesis 28:17

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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Abraham
First Jew, and first of our three Patriarchs. Born into a pagan society in Mesepotamia in 1812 BCE, he discovered monethieism on his own. He was told by G-d to journey to the Land of Canaan where he and his wife Sarah would give birth to the Jewish People.
Jacob
Third of the three Patriarchs and father of the Twelve Tribes. Lived most his life in Canaan and died in Egypt in 1505 BCE. Also known by the name of "Israel."
Western Wall
The western wall of the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem. "The Divine Presence never left the Western Wall," and to this day, the Wall remains a holy shrine and a place for prayer.
Isaac
Second of the three Jewish Patriarchs, son of Abraham and Sarah. Lived in Canaan (Israel); b. 1712 BCE, d. 1532 BCE.
Jerusalem
Established by King David to be the eternal capital of Israel. Both Temples were built there, and the third Temple will be situated there when the Messiah comes.
Tanach
Acronym for Torah, Nevi'm (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Holy Writings). Tanach refers to the 24 books of the Bible: the 5 books of Moses, the 8 books of the Prophets, and the 11 books of Holy Writings.
David
King of Israel who succeeded Saul, becoming king of Israel in 876 BCE. Originally a shepherd, he became popular after he killed the Philistine strongman, Goliath. He is the progenitor of the Davidic royal dynasty -- which will return to the throne with the arrival of King Messiah.
Temple
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.