Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Table Talk - Vayetze 5768 - Shabbos Yerushalayim

With the ongoing talk in Israel about peace negotiations, and the current administration’s stated willingness to discuss abandoning parts of Yerushalayim to the Palestinian Authority (God forbid), the OU has designated this Shabbos as an opportunity to focus on the centrality of Yerushalayim in Judaism to enhance our connection to God’s holy city.

Not surprisingly, Ya’akov meets God at the beginning of our parshah in the future city of Yerushlayim. The Torah tells us that as he runs to Charan fleeing from his brother Eisav, ויפגע במקום וילן שם – “and he arrived at the place and he lay down there.” Ya’akov stops for the night and dreams of ladders, angels and God. But the Torah never tells us where that “place” is. Rashi explains that by calling it המקום – “the place,” we know exactly where it is, because we’ve seen that place before.

When God commands Avraham to sacrifice his beloved son Yitzchak, he also doesn’t specify the exact location. Yet, after Avraham travels for three days the Torah tells us that וירא את המקום מרחוק – “and he saw the place from a distance.” Again, the place remains nameless, but we call it הר המוריה – the location of both akeidat Yitzchak -- the binding of Yitzchak – and the prophetic dream of Ya’akov.

These two events that transpire on that mountain are only the beginning of a long history binding the Jewish people with that holy place. It’s that connection that we must rekindle and strengthen if we wish to ensure that Har Hamoriah remains a Jewish mountain. Let us take some time this Shabbos to learn about Yerushalayim, connect to the city, and commit to make some tangible effort to ensure that she remains eternally united.