This Saturday night and Sunday we will celebrate Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day. Religious Zionists celebrate Yom Yerushalayim with festive prayers including Hallel (Prayers of Thanksgiving) and the reading of the Haftara.
The Haftara for Yom Yerushalayim is from Yishayahu 61:10-63:9. It is the same Haftara that is read on Parshat Nitzavim, the seventh Haftara of consolation.
The prophecy describes how mourning will turn into joy when the Jewish people return to the Land of Israel to rebuild and plant. The covenant between God and the Jewish people will be everlasting and is compared to the commitment of a bride and groom.
The opening sentence of the Haftara sounds very familiar: “Sos asis b’Hashem tagel nafshi b’Elokai”, “I will rejoice intensely with HaShem, my soul shall exult with my God.”
Many of these same words are used in the fifth of the seven blessings, read under the chuppa at a Jewish wedding: “Sos tasis v’tagel HaAkara, bikubutz baneha litocha bisimcha”, “Bring intense joy and exultation to the barren one through the ingathering of her children amidst her in gladness.”
When we say these words we pray that the joy and gladness of both Jerusalem and the new couple will be intense and never ending.
According to Tanchuma, Jerusalem will be comforted when her children are gathered to her in happiness.
Zion is like the bride and God is like the groom. Just as a groom will do anything for his bride, God will redeem and protect Zion.
In 62:4 we learn that Jerusalem will no longer be called “azuva”, “abandoned”, the Land of Israel will no longer be called “shmama”, “desolate” rather Jerusalem will be called “cheftzi bah”, “my desire is her” and the Land of Israel will be called “beulah”, “married.”
The second half of 62:5 is familiar from a song played at Jewish weddings: “Umesos Chatan al Kallah yasis alayich Elokayich”, “As the groom rejoices over the bride, so shall God rejoice over you.”
In 62:6, God assigns guardians to protect the walls of Jerusalem to keep the city safe (“Al chomotayich Yerushalayim hifkadeti shomrim kol hayom vikol halayla”). This prophecy is fulfilled in the days of Nechemia when the Jews return from exile and rebuild Jerusalem after the destruction of the first Beit HaMikdash.
When the Jews return they will grow their own grapes for wine and grain for bread (62:8).
It is clear why this Haftara was chosen to be read on Yom Yerushalayim, the day that marks the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967. The Jewish people have returned to the Land of Israel, the city is being built up, grapes and grains are once again growing in the land.
Amidst all of the joy of the wedding, we break a glass to remember the destruction of Jerusalem.
On Yom Yerushalayim, one of the happiest days on the Jewish calendar, as we celebrate one of the greatest miracles in our time, we must remember that the prophecy will only be fully fulfilled when all of the Jews return to the Land of Israel and rebuild the Beit HaMikdash.
In 1967 our soldiers said: “Har HaBayit Beyadenu”, “The Temple Mount is in our hands.” Today, unfortunately, Jews who visit the Temple Mount are harassed and even arrested if they try to pray there.
That is our broken glass.
May the prophecies of Yishayahu be fulfilled speedily in our days.