“You Shall Be Called ‘My Delight’”

  • Harav Yehuda Amital

Translated by Kaeren Fish

            The 28th of Iyar has come to be known as “Yom Yerushalayim,” but in the Tanakh, this appellation appears in the context of the Destruction:

Remember, O Lord, unto the children of Edom the day of Yerushalayim (yom Yerushalayim), when they said, “Raze it; raze it to its very foundations.” (Tehillim 137:7)

Perhaps, therefore, it would have been more appropriate to call the day, “Yom Cheftzi-Vah:”

For Zion’s sake I shall not be still, and for Yerushalayim’s sake I shall not be silent, until her righteousness emerges like radiance and its salvation like a burning torch… You shall no more be called “Forsaken,” and your land shall no longer be called “Desolate;” rather, you shall be called “My Delight” (cheftzi-vah), and your land – “Espoused,” for God delights in you, and your land shall be espoused. (Yeshayahu 62:1-4)

Although a great distance still remains to be covered – the Temple has not yet been rebuilt, and we are far from the Jerusalem described in the prophecy – the return of Jewish sovereignty to Jerusalem after two thousand years of foreign rule still represents something of the promise of “cheftzi-vah.”

            The manner in which Jerusalem was liberated likewise points in the direction of “cheftzi-vah.” Rav Unterman, the Chief Rabbi at the time, hesitated to institute the blessing preceding Hallel on Yom Ha-Atzma’ut, but for Yom Yerushalayim, which celebrates the miracles of the Six-Day War, he instructed that Hallel should be recited with its blessing. On Yom Ha-Atzma’ut, Am Yisrael emerged “from slavery to freedom;” on Yom Yerushalayim, we emerged from death to life.

            Even the nations of the world drew parallels between biblical prophecies and the events of the Six-Day War, when the very stars of the heavens fought on our behalf. We went to war because of Sharm al-Sheikh, but our victory in the Sinai was dwarfed by the liberation of Jerusalem. We recite Hallel over the wondrous salvation and victory of the war, but the significance of the war is Jerusalem.

And it shall be, when all these things befall you – the blessing and the curse which I have placed before you – then you shall take it to heart… (Devarim 30:1)

            We must observe the ways of God and internalize their message. Seemingly natural historical events, and certainly supernatural historical events, represent God’s communication with Am Yisrael. This language has its own codes; just as in the Written Law, there is “pardes” (peshat, remez, derash, and sod, the different levels on which the text may be interpreted and understood), there are similarly different types of miracles involved in the events that God brings about. Some are overt and manifest, like the splitting of the Red Sea; no one can miss them. Of these we may say, “How great are Your deeds, O God!” Others are hidden, like the miracles of Megillat Esther. It requires a certain level of faith and insight to perceive the Divine machinations that were at work from the very start, throughout all the developments and up until the salvation at the end. Of these miracles we may say, “Your thoughts are exceedingly deep.”

            All of these, however, may be regarded as the “Written Law;” all of these miracles came from God. At the same time, there is an “Oral Law” – the sphere of joint activity between God and Am Yisrael.

      From the time of the Destruction of the Temple until the establishment of the State of Israel, Jewish history under Divine providence was conducted as the “Written Law.” Since the State of Israel was established, the miracles and wonders that we have witnessed in Eretz Yisrael are manifestations of the “Oral Law.” Divine providence provides the possibility and the timing, while Am Yisrael fights and actualizes. The establishment of the State marked the end of the approach of King Chizkiyahu, “I sleep upon my bed, while You carry out” (Eikha Rabba, petichta 30). Henceforth, so long as we do not yet merit having the Divine Presence in our midst and the rebuilding of the Temple, the miracles in Israel are “Oral Law.” Am Yisrael is entrusted with a huge responsibility.

      It was discovered after the Six-Day War that the IDF leadership had predicted the duration of the war and the victory with great accuracy; they had also estimated the number of IDF casualties. Am Yisrael merited that the General Staff plan was God’s plan; God took care of the timing and prevented failure.

      This is true of the victory against Egypt and Syria – but the liberation of Jerusalem was a manifestation of the “Written Law.” There had been no operative plans for conquest of the city, and calming messages had been conveyed to Jordan; nevertheless, Jerusalem became part of the war.

… You shall be called “My Delight” (cheftzi-vah), and your land – “Espoused,” for God delights in you, and your land shall be espoused.

      The gemara (Gittin 55b) teaches that Jerusalem was destroyed “because of Kamtza and Bar-Kamtza.” What does this mean? Is it possible that had it not been for the unfortunate mistake of the servant who invited Bar-Kamtza instead of Kamtza to the feast, the Destruction would have been averted? Obviously not. The Divine decree had already been sealed, but Divine Providence produced a demonstration that symbolized and reflected the reasons for what happened later. What was exposed at that time was an instance of senseless hatred.

      In the period of Israel’s rebirth, too, God exposed an image: the image of Israeli paratroopers weeping at the Western Wall. Secular people, kibbutz members – this was the picture of the great longing of secular Jews, cut off from their religious roots. This image carries a profound message concerning the religious consciousness of all of Am Yisrael. In the depths of its heart, in the deepest recesses of its soul, Am Yisrael is connected to God. It was out of this national unity that Jerusalem was liberated.

(This sicha was delivered on Yom Yerushalayim 5757 [1997].)