Ben-Tzion Spitz
Former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay

Re’eh: Secret Jerusalem

 The first rule in keeping secrets is nothing on paper. — Thomas Powers

There is an ancient Jewish tradition regarding an eternal, concentrated divine connection to the city of Jerusalem, and more specifically to the Temple Mount. What was known as Har Hamoriah (Mount Moriah) within Jerusalem is attributed as a focal point of God on earth going as far back as Adam, continued with Abraham and the binding of Isaac, and formalized when King David bought the land as the site of the Temple which his son Solomon would build.

However, if we look in the Five Books of Moses, Jerusalem is not mentioned in that regard. Instead, we repeatedly get the mysterious phrase “the place that God will select.” Only after King David’s conquest of Jerusalem and the building of the first Temple, do the other prophets of the Bible refer to the holy city with love and yearning.

Rabbeinu Bechaye on Deuteronomy 12:5 (Re’eh) wonders as to the flagrant and consistent absence of “Jerusalem” throughout Moses’ books and the presence of the vague and prophetic “the place that God will select.” He answers that the hiding of the identity of God’s focal point in the world was purposely kept hidden for as long as possible, for at least three different reasons, as follows:

  1. If the nations of the world would have known that prayers and sacrifices made in Jerusalem are accepted, they would have gone to battle for it, causing great bloodshed.
  2. If the Canaanites living in Israel at the time would have known that the Jewish nation were to conquer its land and worship God from Har Hamoriah, they would have destroyed the place with every means at their disposal.
  3. If the tribes of Israel would have known of the supreme importance of Jerusalem, they would have fought amongst themselves to claim that area. Even though they had known of the spiritual importance of Jerusalem and Har Hamoriah, they didn’t realize that that would be “the place that God will select.”

Subsequent history did prove that Jerusalem became a place of great bloodshed and destruction as well as a point of contention between the tribes of Israel, with the Temple on Har Hamoriah being the pivotal point of the conflicts.

However, the many prophecies about Jerusalem also promise that it will become a city of peace, a city of brotherly love, a city of wisdom, of justice, of light, of instruction. Its spiritual power is indisputable and a source of inspiration and longing for more than just the Jewish people.

May we live to see all of the prophecies of Jerusalem fulfilled, and get to enjoy and bask in its spiritual light.

Shabbat Shalom,



To our son Elchanan, on starting his active military service.

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay. He is the author of six books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. He is the publisher of Torah.Works, a website dedicated to the exploration of classic Jewish texts, as well as TweetYomi, which publishes daily Torah tweets on Parsha, Mishna, Daf, Rambam, Halacha, Tanya and Emuna. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
Related Topics
Related Posts