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For the week ending 15 February 2020 / 20 Shevat 5780

Next Year in Jerusalem

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Dov from 1000 Oaks, California wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Why is it that we are still saying "Shana Haba B'yerushalayim — Next Year in Jerusalem," since any Jew can now go there and live there of his own free will? Thanks for your answer.

Dear Dov,

The story is told of a poor man, Shmelke, who lived in a small village. The town folks wanted to support him, but wanted to do so without his feeling like he was accepting charity. So they came up with a plan. They hired him to sit all day at the city gates and wait for Mashiach.

One day, a traveler approached the city and asked Shmelke what he was doing. "This is my job," Shmelke said. "My job is to wait here to greet Mashiach."

"Does it pay well?" asked the traveler.

"Not really," said Shmelke, "but it's steady work."

When we say, "Next year in Jerusalem," we mean that all Jews should actually be dwelling in Israel and in Jerusalem (not just as tourists). And we mean Jerusalem as it is ideally meant to be — with the Temple, the Sanhedrin and a Jewish monarch. We're still waiting. Even we here in Jerusalem say “Next year in Jerusalem!”

YIDDLE RIDDLE

Here's a Yiddle Riddle my son Dovid told me 22 years ago: Which person in Tanach was born before his mother ever was, died before his father, and is buried in his grandmother?"

  • Rabbi Chaim Salenger

Answer

Hevel (Abel):

Born before his mother ever was — his mother, Eve, was never "born." Died before his father Adam — Hevel was killed by his brother. Buried in his grandmother — his father, Adam, came from the earth, so the earth is his "grandmother."

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