HaRav Dov Begon is the head of Yeshivat Machon Meir.
(Excerpted from his book “Israel Redeemed”. Translation by Rabbi Menachem Weinberg.)
The Heart of the Universe
Throughout the generations, the Jewish People have prayed three times a day, entreating God to rebuild Jerusalem: “To Jerusalem, Your city, return in mercy, and dwell therein as You have spoken. Rebuild it soon in our days as an eternal edifice.” (Shemoneh Esreh).
Whenever a Jew recites the Grace after Meals, he mentions the rebuilding of Jerusalem: “Rebuild Jerusalem, the Holy City, soon in our day.”
A Jewish bridegroom, at the most important moment of his life, proclaims, “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand lose its cunning” (Psalms 137:5).
The Torah views the rebuilding of Jerusalem as a supreme, holy value that we must never forget. Quite the contrary, we must cling to it not only in our prayers and blessings, but tangibly as well, through actually settling and rebuilding Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is compared to the heart of the Jewish People and the
heart of the world. This place was chosen by God as the central
location in the world for God’s glory and kingdom to be revealed.
It is from here that God’s word goes out all mandkind, as
the prophet said, “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the
word of God from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3).
The only precondition for the Jewish People’s fulfilling their universal task of bringing light to the world, is the reconstruction of earthly Jerusalem and its being under Jewish control. Through this, celestial Jerusalem will also be rebuilt, showering light and consummate goodness upon the whole world.
Just as the soul can be revealed only through the body, the soul
of our Nation and the light of the Jewish People can be revealed
only when we are inhabiting Jerusalem, rebuilt in all its glory.
Our sages said, “Jerusalem is the light of the universe,” yet this
is so only when Israel shall rebuild it and dwell in it.
This insight can help us comprehend the determined opposition of all those persons and groups that do not desire the rebuilding of Jerusalem, because they do not desire the light of the universe. There are those for whom heretical darkness of the spirit is convenient. There are those on earth who find their sustenance in darkness and night. “You make darkness, and it is night, when all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. The young lions roar after their prey” (Psalms 104:20–21).
Let us not be overwhelmed by the opposition of the nations to the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Let us neither be overwhelmed by opposition from within, which stems from spiritual weakness and lack of faith. Those forces do not understand the meaning of the light of the universe being revealed through Jerusalem’s reconstruction. They cannot fathom that every Jewish home in Jerusalem adds light to the whole house of Israel, and to all of mankind. “He who sits in the heavens laughs. The Lord has them in derision” (Psalms 2:4). God laughs at all those who say of Jerusalem, “Raze it! Raze it! To its very foundations” (Psalm 137:7).
We have a tradition from our prophets and sages that when the Jewish People arise to rebirth in Eretz Yisrael, the nations will fight us with the goal of snuffing out “the candle of the world” and of Jerusalem, as it says, “Why are the nations in an uproar? And why do the peoples mutter in vain? The kings of the earth join ranks. The rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His anointed” (Psalm 2:1–2). The threat comes not justfrom without, however, but from within as well. Jews of weak faith, who do not know or understand the national and universal significance of Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem, will rise up, and they will talk about partitioning Jerusalem and handing it over to foreign nations. They will not understand that allowing the nations control over Jerusalem, or even over part of it, means darkness for the world.
Yet the day is not far off when God’s promise to Israel and to
the entire world will be fulfilled: Israel will return to Jerusalem
and bring light and goodness to the world. Then we will be living
fulfillment of Isaiah 66:13: “As one whom his mother comforts,
so will I comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”