On Saturday night and Sunday we will celebrate Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967.
The reestablishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 can be looked at as modern day miracles.
Rabbi Doron Perez, head of the World Mizrachi Movement in Jerusalem points out how miraculous it is that the Jews survived the exile from 70 CE to 1948. Rabbi Yaakov Emden says that the survival of the Jews in the horrific galut (both physically and spiritually) may be an even greater miracle than the exodus from Egypt.
Yet Rabbi Perez explains that the former miracles of the exile were hidden miracles of a people struggling to survive amidst tragedies and difficulties while the miracles of returning to the Land of Israel and returning to Jerusalem are even greater open miracles of triumph and redemption as the Jews began to thrive in their own land.
While Yom Haatzmaut marks our national freedom, Yom Yerushalayim , the day that we returned to the Temple Mount, The Kotel and the Old City marks our spiritual freedom.
The question now is how we appreciate the miracle of the return to Jerusalem. Are we taking advantage of the opportunity to pray at the Kotel? The past few years I was at the Kotel for Shacharit on Yom Yerushalayim with Religious Zionist students from all over the county yet on a regular basis it is mostly the Charedi community that takes advantage of the opportunity to pray there. Although the Temple Mount is technically “in our hands”, Jews are still being arrested for trying to pray there. Since September there have been many stabbings and attempted stabbings within the walls of the Old City (Lion’s Gate, Damascus Gate etc.). If Jerusalem is truly united, Jews should be able to walk freely throughout the city.
May we merit the miraculous time when Jerusalem will become truly united, where people of all religions will be able to pray at their holiest sites and walk the streets without fear.