/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
How many are we? How numerous or small-numbered shall we be in the coming decade? Let’s imagine and scientifically suggest some figures in terms of human inhabitants of Jerusalem and the State of Israel in some fifty years, a century? Is it really wise to reduce human beings into statistics?
It is definitely interesting and a society must be able with modern hi-tech and research methods to make some forecasts, anticipations. This means that this part of the work is sound for groups of people who live in the same state. It is more than urgent and consequential interrogation for the Israeli society because of the apparent absence of stable and internationally recognized borders. In our case, we have even more and – once again – we are a bit “too much too more”. To begin with, there are the Jews, whose number is so much beyond any mastermind egghead quiz. Whatever institution concerned, “Sochnut/סוכנות (Jewish Agency), Rabbinate, Supreme Court, Civil Law, International Law, Halachah / anti-Halachah movements, religious, reform, conservative figures can either rise or fall, but basically anyone would or should be able to show some link with the State of the Jews.
The society also includes the Arabs, i.e. the Israeli Arabs who live in the present border of the State of Israel, or those who reside in the Territories under control of the Palestinian Authority – mainly Muslim with a significant number of Arab Christians. This means that the Arab world – this is almost ignored or not taken into account abroad – has a substantial heritage that combines Christians and Muslims – as also Jews – in the sphere of the Arab civilization.
The map may also include the Kingdom of Jordan, some parts of South Lebanon, the Golan Heights and some regions of Syria. Roughly from a Great Israel back to the partition in 1917 and 1947, the Jews do rely upon history as the local Arabs and other nations (Bedouins, Druses) have memorized till now, with specific historic marks developed through centuries.
Then, there are the Christians for whom Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey – and all of the Middle-East were the cradle of a faith that spread from Jerusalem till the ends of the world.
The Christians maintained the local traditional Churches (Greek/Rum Orthodox – “Roman” referring to its birth link with the Roman Empire, the Armenians, Syrians Orthodox, Coptic, Ethiopian) that could endure until today. Some Churches disappeared as the Nestorians or are not numerous as the Georgians who had properties and their original culture in Jerusalem. Some other Churches, in particular the Western ones, came as invaders/crusaders or to proselytize the then-weakening local Churches.
At the present, Jews and Arabs can hardly consider enhancing and strengthening their Semitic roots. Mutual ignorance about Judaism and Christianity does not help creating a favorable context of true communication, exchange and confidence. The old habit of the wolfed-down discussions turn to hasty chitchats locally. I still believe that we are at the dawn of an immense historic process for the whole region. Jews must focus on the purity of the Mitzvot and their openness. Christians have to get flexible and disconnect faith from any possession. Jesus said: “Foxes have dens and birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head” (Matthew 8:24). This is negative toward nobody because it concerns everyone in this small piece of Land.
These days we are shravi-שרבי/desert wind humid hot in Jerusalem. Forty years ago, the sky was heavy with storms and lightning flashes covered the Holy City at the eve of a blitzkrieg. Six days and in some incredible fiction remake of the Bible D-Days? Or forty years, as now, that leave all the participants still dazzling around. The same situation as when “forty years a generation provoked me: “am toei levav hemעם תעי לבב הם – they are a senseless people/ vehem lo yad’u drachayוהם לא ידעו דרכי – they would not know My Ways” (Tehillim 95:10). Thus, they erred dizzily in the wilderness, as blinded not finding the way-out.
This is a very typical and standard spiritual turbulence and loss of orientation. All kinds of opinions have been said about this kind of war that reached its peak at Jerusalem. Was it a (temporary) invasion? A war capture? A tantamount historic reversal or a spiritual achievement? Blessings or traps? Forty years are far too short to give any valuable appreciation of such a war. The point is Jerusalem on the one hand. We still ignore or fake to ignore Ben Gurion’s vision about the South, the Negev and Mamshit becoming the capital of Israel…
“Yerusalayim shlemah o me’uchedetירושלים שלמה או מאוחדת – Jerusalem as a whole or united City”? “Yerushalyim habnuyahירושלים הבנויה – Jerusalem as rebuilt?” Yerushalayimירושלים is a dual, showing twofold aspects; there is the Jerusalem from above (heavenly) and the Jerusalem from below (earthly) that are totally connected into one body. “I saw the new Jerusalem” (Apocalypse 3:12), corresponds to this dual reality (that only appears in Greek too: Ierousalim/IerousalimonΙερυσαλιμων). Indeed, there are events that shape lifetimes in different ways.
A Yiddish poet wrote: “Mayn nit di velt is a hefkerמיין ניט די וועלט איז א הפקר – don’t think the world is a jungle/ bashaf’n makhen a veg mit foyst’n un neyg’lבאשאפן מאכן א וועג מיט פויסטן און נעגל – created so that one has to open the way with fists and nails”. These words had been a sort of natural lullaby in my life, first told as a normal fairy tale account by my nanny, a simple Warsaw Ghetto survivor, the mother of a famous philosopher who had abandoned her. She was convinced that the world was something else than any “hefkerהפקר”.
The Yiddish word is Hebrew and Aramaic: “situation of lawlessness = jungle” in the sense that “a slave prefers the dissolute life with a slave” (Gittin 13a) rather than to correct his path and build up a family or something with decency. Mishmash requires mishmash. In the Talmud, the word means more: “declaring free, renunciation of ownership”: “Renunciation of ownership is valid in favor of the poor” (Eduyot 4,3). The phrase and the word “hefkerהפקר”, with its different meanings, can explain the path of some Jews of my generation. Born to a 48 years-old tsarist pogroms and Shoah survivor, on the first anniversary of the State of Israel, I was educated by a generation of fighters and tradition-keepers that had been rescued several times by all kinds of miracles. This is a normal stuff for Jews in seemingly abnormal circumstances. And here I am, in Jerusalem + 46 years. It is the same as the Soviet newcomers who declare that they came last to the Wall 2,000 years ago… Politically, you can’t buy such a dream that comes true.
As many of my friends, the Six Day War sealed my life. We rushed to the Israeli Embassy to volunteer. It was not very realistic for most of us. But this spontaneous reaction just clicked and shaped the rest of our life. Not because of the danger. This was also the point when I look backwards. God does not play games. He does not gamble our lives. We were taught that and were convinced that Israel could be in danger. Still, we suddenly felt we had our homeland here and nowhere else. We knew it instinctively because whereever a Jew is and lives, resides, decides to settle, he and she remains “abroad” from the Land of Canaan, zion and jerusalem and Israel”, beyond any sort of possible measures of their own.
The turn came with the Kotel – the Western Wall. The Temple Mount as the heart of the Jewishness came later. After June 28, 1967, a rabbinical committee explored the possibility to offer the Pesach/Passover sacrifice on the Temple Mount. But the real shock was to be at the Kotel – Western Wall with millions of people “crying joyously”, a humane flood. The moment was “eschatological”, prophetically opening new gates. Many non-Jews were there in those days. Chassidim and the world of the Mitzvot spekulierten iber lebensmerkvirdikaytnשפעקולירן איבער לעבענסמערקווירדיקייטן ( speculated over life specificities)…
While sitting at the top of the Temple Mount, Moshe Dayan explained to the stunned Waqf (Muslim religious) leaders that they would keep the Mount because the Jews are not allowed to walk there, not knowing the exact place of the Devir (Holy of Holies).
It was the first time in history that a victorious general returned a conquest to their “enemy”.
I do believe that the Temple Mount only starts to show again in Jewish historic conscience. It shall slowly face the Christian realm and history. For the moment, stiffness prevails and there is a profound work of taming each others that has to be done.
Progressively, along the past 40 years, the Temple Mount gained more and more sacrificial importance because what was offered there is at the core of the Jewish identity, memory and call as a nation dedicated to sanctity and priesthood as we read this right now in the weekly portions. From that day, I knew that we had reached our home.
What happened in these days goes far beyond any pull-out/pull-in. Righteousness towards the local Arabs and other nationalities also constitutes a major faith concern. I daily live among people who constantly have suffered from expulsions, destruction of their properties. In this sense the word “hefker” should not become a sign of “lawlessness” though the tragic aspect of the region is that obsession for rights and legacy can churn to sour and stinky disorder, confusion and capture. This is why we belong to a generation that, undoubtedly, saw a sort of unbelievable miracle (for Judaism as a whole); it obliges acting with justice.
The Arabs and the Christian Churches got a baffling knocking out shock. Since everything has always been temporary in the region, they may think that it may end sooner or later. Some Jews would even suggest that indeed Israel may disappear.
But 46 years for Jerusalem is undoubtedly too short. Who would dare think that God would not allow any Jew and co-relative returning to Zion from all the nations, cultures of the world in order to get totally ignorant of the immense heritages that developed in Eretz Israel over the past 2,000 years!! This is the kind of chutzpah/arrogance that we show too often.
A terrible shock happened on Iyyar 28, 5727 (06/07/67 – May 25, Julian Eastern calendar). Entering the Old City of Jerusalem and reaching the Western Wall, Temple Mount, the Mount of Olives, another sort of brainstorming quake shook the inhabitants.
For the first time in the history, all Christian Churches were de facto then de jure placed under the rules and regulations of the State of the Jews. This was not even thinkable in any possible way. it remains definitely not acceptable for all the Churches, one way or another. This is even why some of them, like the Vatican (Roman catholic Church) is so hastily willing to define the Shoah and the subsequent existence of a positive Jewish and maybe Israeli State and society. They want to keep the lead though they feel it slips away.
This is not a political view. Most Israelis, visitors, Shabbat tourists or pilgrims slowly forget how life and the Holy Sites where forty years ago when they come to the Old City.
Still today, as the Shekel gets high…, the Arab shopkeepers do think “Jordanian Dinar”. But the Israeli soldiers also arrived to the Holy Sepulcher, i.e. the most sacred and holy place of the Christian world: the Anastasis (Gr.: Place of Resurrection). This means that Jesus of Nazareth has his tomb and “central Temple” there. The Christian Churches had developed some skills in coping with the previous Ottoman, British, Jordanian “rulers”.
The Jewish law was and remains a huge question because of theological and historical backgrounds. It means that the Anastasis powerfully challenges and interrogates the faithful coming from all nations; it is also placed under Israeli, thus Jewish care. Some policemen/women may be Christian, Arab, whatever, this situation is still unexplained for local Christians. And vice versa, Jews would at time be reluctant at discovering what a part of related origins is. Patience, openness, studies should unlock fears or reservations. This is rarely the case. the Churches do pay at a high cost their enmity over the centuries. The Holy Fire Saturday is a good example of lack of organizationa lcoherence on the side of the Israeli “Police” and people in charge of the control of those who can enter the Holy Shrine. On the other hand, the Church leaders would tend to adopt a low profile or a language of “compromise” toward the Israeli government, State and administration because theyr do not known how to discuss with them. it is the huge price for the long-age estrangement process. We do pay the price of ignorant relationships based on power competition, among the Christians, with the Muslims from old and now with the jews that are definitely not willing to “converse” on such matters. Their projects include the ful restructuration of what Jerusalem has become and they envision a whole reshaping of the regional connectedness.
This is why we are only at the dawn of times we cannot clearly envision. There was much more than six days and the oneness of the City of Peaces in June1967/ Iyyar 5727. Dawn of “estranged” ways in confessing God whose faithful can accept to open up and can slowly be proposed to remove the blurred images of who they and others are. Abraham Avinuאברהם אבינו was welcoming anybody “bechom hayomבחום היום – in the heat of the day” and this is the privilege of faith to the sore and difficult breath of these shravi-שרבי / wilderness desert wind into a long journey encounter move.
“UleTziyon yeamarולציון יאמר – indeed, it shall be said of Zion / ish ve’ish yulad baאיש ואיש יולד בה – every man was born there” (Tehillim 87:5).
Av Alexander Winogradsky Frenkel