The Eternal City
THE ETERNAL CITY
If you ask your travel agent to book you a trip to the Eternal City, chances are he will pick up his time schedule and book you on a flight to Rome.
He'd be wrong. The Eternal City is not Rome.
The Midrash tells us that when an historic sin was committed by a Jewish ruler the angel Gavriel stuck a reed into the Mediterranean Sea, and around that reed arose a sandbar, and from there grew Rome. Rome is not the eternal city. It wasn't there at the beginning of time. For something to be eternal, not only does it have to be there at the beginning of time, but it has to be there at the end of time as well.
When Hashem created the universe, He didn't create it as an expanse, as a myriad of stars spread out on an almost infinite blackness. Rather, He first created a single point, and from there all space and time unfolded.
We know where that point is. It is a rock that sits on top of a small hill nested between several others of very similar appearance. On that rock, Abraham brought his son Isaac as an offering. It was around that rock that the two Holy Temples were built. The name of that rock is the Even Shesia, the 'Foundation Stone.'
That rock is the center of the universe. Around that rock is the Temple and around the Temple is Jerusalem. Around Jerusalem is the Land of Israel. And around the Land of Israel is the Universe.
Exactly 30 years ago, the eternal city was united again under Jewish rule. The Hebrew date was the 28th of Iyar. It just so happens that the 28th of Iyar is also important in Jewish history for another reason: On the 28th of Iyar, Samuel the prophet passed away.
What do the two have in common?
At the beginning of the reign of King David, Jerusalem was not in Jewish hands. When King David re-conquered the Land of Israel, Jerusalem was in the hands of the Jebusites. The exact location of Mount Moriah, the place of the Even Shesia, was no longer known.
Before David could plan the building of the Holy Temple he had to know exactly where Mount Moriah was. It was the prophet Samuel, together with King David, who, through prophetic insight, established which of the hills in Jebusite Jerusalem was in fact the correct location.
So it was through Samuel the prophet that we know today the location of the Temple in Jerusalem. Maybe it was for this reason that Jerusalem was 're-discovered' in June 1967 on the exact date of his passing from this world.
But there's more.
It the first Book of Samuel 15:29, the following prophecy is written: "However, the 'Netzach Yisrael' will not lie."
That phrase 'Netzach Yisrael' can be understood in two ways. It can mean the 'Eternal One of Israel' - Hashem - Who will not lie, Who will never desert His people through the long night of exile.
But Netzach Yisrael can also mean 'the eternity of Israel' or 'the victory of Israel' will not lie. The survival of the Jewish People, through both persecution and the softly stifling embrace of assimilation, will not lie. It will stand as an everlasting proof that the Jewish People are what the Torah calls them: An eternal nation with a G-d given mission.
It was Samuel the prophet who said 'the eternity of Israel will not lie' nearly 3,000 years ago. How could he have known that the Jewish People would still be around in 1967, some 3,000 years after he spoke that prophecy? And not only were they around, but they were re-capturing the city he had helped to re-identify on the exact day that he passed on to the world of truth.
Yalkut Shimoni - I Kings 172; I Samuel 15:29; Talmud Berachot 58a; Talmud Zevachim 54b; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 580:1; Rabbi Mordechai Becher
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This article originally appeared in SEASONS
OF THE MOON for Iyar 5757.
Written by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair.
General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman.
Production Design: Lev Seltzer.
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