Unity and the Walls of Jerusalem
HaRav Dov Begon, head of Machon Meir
“The Three Weeks” begin with 17 Tamuz, when the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans, and end with Tisha Be’Av, when the Temple was burnt down — may it be speedily rebuilt!
Always, especially during this period, we must rectify the sins that brought about the destruction of Jerusalem and the burning of the Temple. Our sages taught us that due to groundless hatred we were exiled from our land, and through groundless love we will rebuild our land, Jerusalem and our Temple.
Jerusalem’s destruction, which began with the breaching of the walls serves to allude to us of the approach taken by the Romans, and our enemies today are no different. Jerusalem’s walls [chomot] symbolize national unity, as in our sages’ words that the Jews going up to the Land of Israel from Babylonia “did not go up ‘en masse’ [Hebrew: bechoma] to Eretz Yisrael,” as one man, with one heart.
Our enemies’ ambition, even today, is to breach the walls and create a rift with the Jewish People, causing divisiveness among us.
Right now we must make every effort to unify the nation and to give one another moral support. We must set out together to defend Jerusalem and the State of Israel. “I have set watchmen upon your walls, O Jerusalem” (Isaiah 62:6). We must learn and teach, and bring to the awareness of myriads of the House of Israel what Jerusalem means for us and for all of mankind. Jerusalem is the light of the world. It is the heart of the nation and the heart of the world. We do not divide up the heart, it is impossible to concede it. For thousands of years we have prayed to return to it. We have shed rivers of tears and sacrificed rivers of blood, and those blood and tears have not, and do not, fall in vain. The day is not far off when our prayer will be fulfilled: “Return mercifully to Your city Jerusalem, dwell in it as You said you would. Rebuild it soon as an eternal edifice.” Through this we will merit to see with our own eyes how “G-d gives strength to His people and blesses them with peace” (Psalm 29:11).
During the Three Weeks [between 17 Tamuz and 9 Av], we discern different phases in Jerusalem’s destruction. On the tenth of Teveth, a siege was imposed upon Jerusalem. On the seventeenth of Tamuz, the walls around the city of Jerusalem were breached. On the ninth of Av, the city was destroyed and the Temple burnt down — may it be rebuilt speedily in our day. Each of these stages in the destruction serves to teach us not only about what occurred but about the inner meaning of what occurred.
The siege of Jerusalem and the attempt to sever Jerusalem from the Land and from the rest of the world, is like an attempt to cut off one’s heart from his body. The purpose of the siege was to weaken and deter the Jewish People through siege and oppression.
The breaching of the walls of Jerusalem was made possible through the civil war that took place in the city. The wall was breached because the nation did not stand united. Quite the contrary, in this war, they abandoned the walls and the city’s security.
The destruction of Jerusalem and the burning of the Temple are the result of groundless hatred which smote the hearts of Israel like a plague and ultimately led to the breakdown and destruction of the heart of the whole people — Jerusalem and the Temple. Just as there are stages to the destruction, so too are there stage to the rebuilding. Right now we see with our own eyes how Jerusalem, with G-d’s help, is being steadily rebuilt. Just as the destruction began with siege, so too is the rebuilding beginning with that siege being removed.
First we removed the siege imposed upon us by the British, who prevented Jews from making Aliyah. Then the siege was removed from Jerusalem, which suffered hunger and thirst during the War of Independence. In the Six Day War, Jerusalem broke out of the narrow corridor which had stifled its development, and began great expansion. It was united under Jewish sovereignty and now, thanks to G-d’s kindness, it is undergoing a hastened process of construction in all directions.
The siege and the diplomatic and economic boycott imposed on the State of Israel by the Arab countries is gradually disappearing. Quite the contrary, Israel has become one of the major countries in the world, having diplomatic and economic relations with the vast majority of countries in the world.
The next stage in the rebuilding of Jerusalem is the establishment of a fortified wall, corresponding to the wall that collapsed in the past. Just as in the past, divisiveness and civil war caused the fall of Jerusalem, so, too, togetherness and national unity are the modern-day wall against our enemies who still wish to divide Jerusalem and to take control of it. The more we lock arms together, the whole nation, all movements and all parties, with the intent of defending the unity of Jerusalem, the stronger a wall we will erect, and it will repel those who plot to breach the walls of Jerusalem.
And the more we increase the groundless love in our midst, the better we will nullify the groundless hatred, which brought about the destruction of our Temple. Then we will be privileged to see and to rejoice in the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the light of the world, and the rebuilding of the Temple, soon in our day, Amen!