The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit
YHE HOLIDAY: YOM YERUSHALAYIM 5768
Western Wall and "Western" Civilization
on a sicha by Harav Yehuda
of us who experienced the reunification of Yerushalayim on 28 Iyyar, 5727 (7
June, 1967) find it difficult to describe.
It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I was at home; I had been exempted from
fighting because I was above forty.
I tried to help the elderly, to make myself useful during those difficult
days, days of trembling and fear.
on 28 Iyyar, we heard the Kol Yisrael radio station: they were playing
"Yerushalayim shel Zahav," "Jerusalem of Gold," in the middle of the
war. A little while later, not at
the regular time, there was a newsflash: "Jerusalem has been liberated!" The announcer, Moshe Choval, who was not
religious, began to read Tehillim 122, "I rejoiced when they said to me:
'Let us go to God’s house.'" It
stunned me that they were reading this psalm on the radio!
do not have the words to describe that experience. I do remember that Mincha that
day was one of my greatest prayers ever.
A neighbor of mine, a Torah scholar, told me: "This is a revealed
miracle!" I do not know if it was a
revealed miracle or a hidden miracle, but I know how strongly I felt
ideas and emotions of that day must inform my thoughts about the Israeli
government's economic plan. This
plan, espousing austerity for the sake of economic growth, stems from an
ideology of globalization. Market
forces, privatization, individualism — these are its buzzwords. What lies at the foundation of this
am sure you have seen at recent weddings that there are some people who do not
dance in the circle, but dance on their own. I saw a wedding where there were 100
boys, each one dancing on his own.
It is aesthetically pleasing, but what is going on here? How can a celebration such as this
devolve into individuals executing fancy dance steps? The catchphrase is "Al titarev,"
"Don't get involved." Why dance in
an unnatural circle, hands clasped, arms linked? Let nature run its course, let each
individual express himself, and you will see how well it comes out.
is the ideology of globalization: "Al titarev, let market forces run
their course, don't talk about social justice. The rich will get richer and the poor
will disappear; let them die of starvation, and whoever is left will be
is the philosophy of privatization: why should the state get involved in the
personal lives of its citizens? In
the Knesset, we have 120 of the crème de la crème, the best of our nation, and
what they say is the law! Why
should the Supreme Court get involved when we have these elected sages to who
make decisions? Why would you
interfere? We need economic
the "spirituality" of our time gives its imprimatur to this attitude. These are the philosophies that
backpackers bring back from India: they do not speak of tzedek (justice)
at all! "People should die quietly
and not make noise." They do not
speak about tzedek and uprightness, because everything is about finding
yourself, individualism. This is
enlightenment? This lies behind the
idolatry that goes around today: "Go with nature; don't get involved."
nice is it for everyone to do whatever he wants! On the Internet and cable television,
everyone watches whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Freedom, privatization — behind all this
is the notion: "Let nature run its course - it's so beautiful! Why would you interfere?" Perhaps it is natural, but all idolatry
comes from nature. This is New Age
philosophy, dressed up in a suit as free-market capitalism. "If everyone has freedom, if everyone
does what we wants, then you will see," says the finance minister, "there will
be growth. Give the wealthy bank
manager a little more, and he will work harder."
does that have to do with the Kotel ha-Ma'aravi (Western Wall), the
ancient remnant of our Temple site, liberated on 28 Iyyar? Let us think back to Avraham Avinu, the
first man to be commanded regarding circumcision, who almost sacrifices his son
upon the Temple Mount, Mount Moriyya.
Circumcision is a perfection of the natural; in the Midrash, Rabbi Akiva
tells Turnus Rufus (Tanchuma Tazria 7) that nature has negative aspects,
such as wild animals, poisonous fruits.
Human beings must perfect nature, and this is not blasphemy, but the
highest fulfillment of our God-given mission.
wish to develop this concept further.
In Moreh Ha-Nevukhim (III:45), the Rambam cites a gemara from
Tractate Yoma (which we do not have in our version), wherein Avraham
Avinu picks the ma'arav (west) of Mount Moriyya for the future site of
the Holy of Holies, because "the Divine Presence is in the ma'arav"
(Bava Batra 25a-b). This is
because the Sun, the ultimate symbol of nature, rises in the east, and its
worship was then popular. Avraham
Avinu chooses to turn to the west, turning his back on the sun, which is
antithetical to nature. Yechezkel
(8:16) decries the Jews who turn their backs to the Temple, turning to the east,
bowing down to the Sun. They defy
the memory of their ancestor Avraham, the innovator of a new approach to the
see that letting nature follow its course is not a new idea; it is the oldest
form of turning away from God. The
refrain is: "Return to nature; let people do what they want." Now, psychology speaks this way, arguing
that shame is bad, an invention of religion; instead, we should stick with
nature. This is the ideology of the
new economic plan; remove regulations and benefits, and the economy will
naturally grow. If the poor
complain, the cognoscenti murmur, "They don't know that there will be growth;
they will benefit eventually…"
we stand here, almost 4,000 years after Avraham Avinu, the urgency of his
message has not dimmed. We must take our cue from him, and look to the
ma'arav, turning our backs on the cruelty and indifference of the natural
world, embracing the obligation and involvement of the world of faith. That is the universal message we still
get from the Kotel ha-Ma'aravi.
God grant us the merit to rebuild the Temple, so His Presence may once again
rest in the Holy of Holies — in the ma'arav.
sicha was delivered on Yom
Yerushalayim, 5763 .)