David Walk
David Walk

Jerusalem’s Day

As I write this it’s Mother’s Day. For most Americans that’s a big deal. Here in Israel, not so much. This modern celebration of mothers and motherhood was conceived (or ‘mothered’) by Anna Jarvis at the beginning of the 20th century. It is always commemorated on the second Sunday in May, but that’s pretty arbitrary. The date has no special significance. It’s the thought that counts. It’s important to recognize the great contributions and significance of mothers on some regular basis, and it can’t hurt to sell a few greeting cards and flowers.  

Rav Adin Shteinzaltz OB”M wrote something almost similar about tomorrow’s celebration:

Yom Yerushalayim, whose importance is far greater than the extent of its recognition today, commemorates the liberation of the city from foreign rule. However, its true importance is that we celebrate the glory of this unique city-’The Rose of Sharon, the Lily of the valleys.’ It’s a day which doesn’t relate specifically to either its destruction or its construction, to its difficulties or its beauty, rather a day of thanksgiving and joy over its mere existence. Joy over the fact that there is in our world such an amazing place. Over the fact, that we merited that in our world there is point of connection with the heavenly realm. The holiday for Yerushalayim is a new celebration. Previous generations didn’t merit to commemorate and celebrate Yerushalayim, just like that (STAM KACH).  

That’s beautiful and moving. There are important and truthful observations in this statement, especially that, sadly, this date is barely noticed outside the world of Yerushalayim and religious Zionism. However, I take umbrage over his seemingly cavalier attitude to the date, as if the date isn’t as important as the need to recognize the infinite value of Yerushalayim. When I read this quote it was in a collection of addresses by the great rabbi. I don’t know to whom this speech was delivered. Maybe it was an audience that he felt would be better swayed by the Jerusalem recognition aspect of the day, rather than the Six Day War victory aspect of the day. So, my mild criticism may be off mark. 

Nevertheless, it is of critical importance that the miracles of 1967 never be forgotten. This date is not STAM; it commemorates miracles and wonders. Rav Shlomo Aviner believes that this date was destined for great military feats, because on this date (Iyar 28) Yehoshua defeated Amalek in the desert. 

It’s tragic that because of political considerations, many Israelis pointedly ignore this date, when our nation was saved from annihilation by the Nasser-led Arab hordes. It’s also crucial to recall and recount the miracles, just like Purim and Chanukah. Perhaps, this miracle was greater. I thank my neighbor Elsha Haas for some of these details. 

I don’t intend to recount the entire war, but I feel obligated to point out certain aspects of the war which were not planned for by the IDF. First, the amazing air attack on Egypt was accomplished with great skill, and KOL HAKAVOD to the air force. But the Egyptians had an early warning system in Jordan which did notice the attack sweeping into the Mediterranean Sea. How come the Egyptians didn’t act on these warnings? They never got them. The codes for transmitting and receiving these reports were changed that very morning. The messages were sent but never deciphered, because the Egyptian technicians in Jordan didn’t get the new codes. 

Sometimes God’s plan is totally different from ours. The Israeli government never intended to go to war with Jordan. The Jordanians attacked the United Nations headquarters in Armon HaNetziv, less than a mile from where I’m sitting. The IDF command ordered our soldiers to wait to attack, because they were negotiating with the UN general from Norway with the improbable name of Odd Bull. Some things you just can’t make up. But the troops here in Talpiot not only attacked but conquered all the Jordanian positions on the southeast side of Jerusalem. 

There was a report that the enclave on Har HaTzofim was being attacked by Jordanians. It was not. But the IDF sent troops rushing to Yerushalayim from the Sinai front. These troops arrived to conquer Ammunition Hill and encircle the Old City. This was no attack on Har HaTzofim. So, instead, they entered the Old City from the East. In the 19 years of the Medina’s existence there were many theoretical plans for taking the Old City, but none were utilized that day. God’s plan worked just fine. 

 I don’t know how many of my dear readers feel about the Jewish communities in Yehuda and Shomron, but I don’t see why those political debates should affect how we view Yom Yerushalayim. Our nation won an improbable victory of immense dimensions. It saved our still fragile country. There was much depression throughout Medinat Yisrael during May 1967, both psychological and economic. No one foresaw the euphoria of that first week in June. Not noticing the seismic shift in Israel’s fortunes in those six short days, requires a special kind of blindness. 

So, give thanks to God! Spread the word of Israel’s salvation. Rejoice at the reunification of our eternal capitol, and remember, when you recite Hallel, that the happy EM HaBANIM (mother of the children, Tehillim 113:9) is Yerushalayim! Now that’s a date worth celebrating. Yom Yerushalayim Sameach!! 

About the Author
Born in Malden, MA, 1950. Graduate of YU, taught for Rabbi Riskin in Riverdale, NY, and then for 18 years in Efrat with R. Riskin and R. Brovender at Yeshivat Hamivtar. Spent 16 years as Educational Director, Cong. Agudath Sholom, Stamford, CT. Now teach at OU Center and Yeshivat Orayta.
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