Yes it is simply a word. But it is a singular word that elicits notions of angels, demons, and a God in heaven. It is a word that has caused war, rebellion, and prayer. It is a word that connotes political upheaval, religious supremacy and supersessionism. It is a word, that means City of Peace, and yet it has caused an untold amount of violence.
Jerusalem is the embodiment of all that is holy. It is also merely a city where average everyday persons live out their lives. It is a city of schools, shops, cafes, and government. There are trash collectors, and dog catchers. There are barbers, and doctors, lawyers and criminals. There are shopping malls, bars, and discos.
Jerusalem is many cities, within a city.
The question is what do you think of when you hear the word Jerusalem? Do you think of Jerusalem Lemala or Jerusalem L’mata?” Jerusalem above,” the Jerusalem of heaven, of the religious and the holy; or do you think of “Jerusalem below,” what is on the ground, the City of people, of those who live their lives in the shadow of the world’s obsession.
Then ask yourself if Jerusalem has always really been the world’s obsession, or simply an obsession today because of the People that own it, that govern it, that rule it’s streets and byways? Why was Jerusalem left fallow, to fall to disrepair and ruin, to be destroyed and abused for millenium, but suddenly it is worth something to so many? What changed in the make up of the world that a City on the edge of nowhere is once again the center of the world?
What does it mean when one word evokes every feeling that a human being has within their soul? What does it mean when a word, Jerusalem, causes a love so great, a yearning attached to freedom, a yearning attached to self-determination that is as old as history itself?
The Talmud says that although King David wrote most of them, some of the Psalms were written by different authors at various times, ending with Ezra in the early 2nd Temple era. This psalm talks about the destruction of the 1st Temple.
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying: “Sing us one of the songs of Zion”.
How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy
In truth, those who have neglected Jerusalem also have no right to her. Those that never pray for the peace of Jerusalem have no understanding of her true worth.
שַׁאֲלוּ, שְׁלוֹם יְרוּשָׁלִָם; יִשְׁלָיוּ, אֹהֲבָיִךְ…..Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may they prosper that love thee. (Psalm 122)
Those who do not shatter a glass at the end of a joyous wedding ceremony have no right to sit in judgement of eons of yearning for such a holy City, nor do they have the right to negate the love of a People for their capital city.
Those who do not end their story of slavery with the words “Next Year in Jerusalem, next year may we all be free,” have no right to decide that their perspective is superior to any other.
For those who truly love Jerusalem understand that “Jerusalem” means equality, a shared love and joy. Those who truly love Jerusalem understand that no one religion is greater than the next. Those who truly love Jerusalem understand that no one people have a right to negate another’s yearning for this ancient City. Those that are unable to share Jerusalem, that are unable to allow others to partake of Jerusalem, have no right to her. And because of this belief in equality, of respect for other religions, and beliefs, of the simultaneous flow of the love for this City from all corners of the globe, it is only one People, the descendants of David and Solomon, that have ever made Jerusalem shine.
The holiness of Jerusalem belongs to those that believe.
But it is the life blood of only one People.
That is why those that hate, that wish to destroy, those that obsessively call for genocide see nothing wrong with destroying Jerusalem if it destroys the People that love her with all their might.
Yes Jerusalem is merely one word. But it is such a word as to elicit greatness, wonder, and awe….