The Gemara in Ta’anit (ל:ב) teaches, based on a statement by R’ Akiva:
כל המתאבל על ירושלים זוכה ורואה בשמחתה
Anyone who mourned Jerusalem[‘s destruction], will merit to see her happiness
Harav Kook famously adds:
משמע לא כל אחד רואה את שמחת ירושלים
This implies that not everyone will see the happiness of Jerusalem
Rav Kook teaches that the statement of the Gemara, that all people who mourn Jerusalem’s destruction will merit to see her rebuilt, implies that not everyone will be able to appreciate her even in her rebuilt glory, a concept that is unfortunately all too common in our days.
I would like to take this a step further and add:
מי שלא שמח בירושלים בבניה, לא התאבל מספיק על חורבניה
Whoever is not happy in Jerusalem’s rebirth did not properly mourn her destruction
Jerusalem is central to our avodat Hashem. Countless times every day, we pray for her to be completely rebuilt. Har Hamoriah, the site of Akedat Yitzchak, Yaakov’s divine dream, and two Temples, is referenced to constantly in scripture, and most of our avoda and tefilah are based around the service done in the Mikdash.
Ever since our exile from Jerusalem over two thousand years ago, we’ve had an obligation to constantly mourn the destruction of our holy city. However, as time goes on, it’s hard to stay emotionally connected to a land so distant and so seemingly irrelevant. Already, in the times of the Talmud Bavli, some amora’im were attempting to distance themselves from Eretz Yisrael (see Gemara Ketuvot [קיא:א], where many agree that living in Bavel should be considered as holy as living in Israel- against their own teachers, the tana’im who lived in Yavne)- this trend did not go lessen over time, as Judaism became more and more independent of Eretz Yisrael. Nonetheless, the command has remained to constantly mourn Jerusalem.
Sixty seven years ago, Jewish sovereignty returned to Eretz Yisrael for the first time since the Hashmona’im. Scarcely twenty years later, we merited to regain control of our holy city Jerusalem from the hands of the marauding Jordanians. At that time, the test of Gemara Ta’anit became relevant as each and every Jew checked how he truly felt about Moshe Dayan’s cries of “הר הבית בדינו.”
We cannot forget that Jerusalem is the crux of our lives as Jews. There is no Judaism without Jerusalem! And, any Jew who is not genuinely joyful about her current rebirth must re-examine his relationship with G-d. If he is one of those who, as Rav Kook wrote, is not seeing the happiness of Jerusalem, he must question how important Jerusalem was to him in the first place, if he even cared enough about her destruction.
This is a question we must ask ourselves as well, on this day of celebrating Jerusalem’s return to our hands. We’ve had control of our nation’s capital for forty eight years: How happy are we that the center of Judaism is back in Jewish hands? What does this change in our day-to-day lives? How can we work to make Jerusalem become part of lives and our religion after two millennia of being apart.
May we all have a meaningful and happy Yom Yerushalayim, and merit to see the Ir Hakodesh completely rebuilt very very soon