This City Bound Together

Psalm 122

שיר המעלות לדוד: שמחתי באומרים לי – בית ה’ נלך
A song of ascents by David: I rejoiced when they said to me – Let us go to the house of God.
Beit Hashem – The house of God. Where synagogues become battlefields. Where scholars become targets. Where hitting a baby with a car is military strategy and stabbing a man in prayer is retaliation.

עומדות היו רגלינו – בשעריך ירושלים
Our feet are planted in your gates, O Jerusalem.

Firmly planted in your gates until a car driven by a murderer driven by hatred knocks us off our feet and into our graves. We are firmly planted here, in our eternal capital. But at what cost? How many more thousands of firmly planted feet must flood the roads to Har Hazeitim and Har Herzl cemeteries, mourning their brothers? How many more bodies must be planted in the ground?

ירושלים הבנויה כעיר שחוברה לה יחדיו
Jerusalem, she is built like a city that is bound firmly together.

Even David makes mistakes. Because who can say that this holy city is bound firmly together, when its residents eat each other alive? When even in times of our greatest unity passions are on fire? My Jerusalem of Gold is someone else’s Jerusalem of Iron. At least all agree that she is Jerusalem of Fire – but while for some that might be the fire of love or of passionate Torah, for others it is the fire of a pistol in a synagogue and for others still it is the flames of an Arab boy being burnt alive.

Too horrible for words (Photo: GPO)
Too horrible for words (Photo: GPO)

שאלו שלום ירושלים: ישליו, אוהביך
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; May those that live within you prosper.

When a force exists within our walls that we cannot fight; when there is hatred within our midst that evades our soldiers – all that is left is to stand before God and pray. Even that is not foolproof. In the midst of that very prayer – “Place before us peace, goodness, blessing, grace, kindness, and mercy” – a man can use the shot of a gun and the swing of a butcher’s knife to pervade that supposedly impenetrable bond between man and his Creator. And when we hear about their murder, are we full of hatred, or are we full of sadness? Do we pray for revenge, or do we reaffirm their prayer for peace?

יהי שלום בחילך – שלווה בארמנותייך
May there be peace within your walls, and tranquility within your palaces.

Within your palaces of prayer, and your palaces of homes, and your palaces of light rail stations – may there be tranquility. Tranquility that is free from guns and butchers’ knives and speeding cars driven by murderers. Because none of that is Jerusalem – Jerusalem is tranquility. Tranquility is Jerusalem.

למען אחי ורעי – אדברה נא שלום בך
For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say now, “Peace be within you.”

Not only for the sake of my holy brothers, but for the sake of my holy friends – Jews, Muslims, and Christians of this city – I beg you all to end these horrors. Saying it is not enough, it must be demanded: “Peace be within you!”

למען בית ה’ אלוקינו אבקשה טוב לך
For the sake of the house of God, I will seek good for you.

And as long as the journey drags on, and even though it seems like it will never end, we must continue to seek. Seek for the good of the house of God where no one is stabbed, and no one gets shot. The house that really makes this city “bound firmly together” once again.

The city of 70 names.
The city of 70 names
About the Author
Sean is an undergraduate student studying at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. In addition to the Times of Israel, he loves the Land of Israel, the People of Israel, the Torah of Israel, the beaches of Israel, and the chocolate milk of Israel. He dislikes the cats of Israel, the arsim of Israel, and the politics of Israel.