Monday, May 10, 2010

Hodesh Ziv - The Month of Brightness

In Sefer Melakhim (Kings 6:1,37) the second Biblical month, known to us as Iyar (the names of Jewish months are post-exilic and of Babylonian provenance), is characterized as Hodesh Ziv - the month of brightness. The commentators advance several explanations. One that sticks in my mind is that the winter's cold is gone but we do not yet suffer from summer's stifling heat. I handle summer's heat just fine, thank you very much. I acclimatized instantly to last week's 80-degree heat but this week, with temperatures unseasonably cool, I had to break out the space heater. I have to chuckle at the commentators' struggles. Praise God, we do not need a perush (commentary) to tell us why Iyar is a month of brightness. It is obvious to all who have eyes to see - and there are none so blind as those who do not. Iyar is the month when we resumed our sovereignty, reclaimed our manhood and, nineteen years later, regained control over the whole of our eternal capital, Jerusalem.

Tomorrow, 28 Iyar, is Yom Yerushalayim, when we celebrate the reunification of our capital. As with the Berlin Wall 22 years later, the wall through the heart of the Holy City came down in a flash, and Jews and Arabs from either side mingled freely with unbounded joy. Who did not thrill to Mota Gur's voice crackling over the radio: Har Habayit b'yadeinu. The Temple Mount (literally "Mountain of the House") is in our hands. Later on I became aware of a soldier in Sinai who heard it over the radio, and with a poker face asked a comrade, "I heard about some house mountain that is in our hands; do you have any idea where it is?", and the comrade shouted, "What! Jerusalem! Ask who captured it!" Ever since, people of all faiths have been able to worship at their holy places. For nineteen years the Jordanians, in violation of the armistice they signed, did not allow Jews to visit the kotel or any other site in "their" part of the city, and even ripped up gravestones on Har Hazeitim for stables and latrines.

After the liberation of Jerusalem, Golda Meir forthrightly announced to the world that its future was not negotiable. Subsequent Israeli governments, whatever their policies regarding "the territories," hewed to that stand on Jerusalem, that it is the eternal, indivisible capital of Israel, until the disaster known as Oslo 1 in 1993. Jerusalem was on the chopping block along with everything else, and make no mistake, the Arabs will not be satisfied with anything less than the whole enchilada. Now a supposedly right-wing Prime Minister, and let's not forget he is the man who gave away 80% of Hevron, kowtows to President Obama and freezes construction of Jewish homes in the capital of the Jewish state. According to a report on Arutz Sheva, American inspectors are traipsing around Israel's capital and reporting to Obama's envoy George Mitchell on violations of Obama's diktat. Who will have the guts to stand up and tell Obama that Israel is not an American colony, nor is it the 51st state. We will build anywhere in Jerusalem, and indeed throughout Israel, that we wish. And if that puts Israelis in conflict with certain segments of the Orthodox commun ity in America, as it does when Jerusalemites decide to build a sports stadium in their city, so be it. Besides being the ir hakodesh, Jerusalem, praise God, is a living breathing city in a way that few would have even imagined a century ago.

It has become customary on Yom Yerushalayim to hold a rikudegalim, where throngs of people dance through the streets of the Old City singing and carrying Israeli flags. Unfortunately, rikudegalim has become an occasion for gratuitous offense toward the city's Arab residents, such as noisily pounding on their doors. Leaders in our community have asked dancers to refrain from such behavior tomorrow, and I hope and pray that they will. Yerushalayim is the City of Peace, and we should live in peace with anyone willing to live in peace with us.

We daven Ma'ariv tonight with the Yom Tov niggun, and end hashkivenu with hapores sukkat shalom aleinu. . . v'al Yerushalayim, as on Yom Tov. Tomorrow morning we say the long psukei d'zimra as on Hoshana Rabbah, and the complete Hallel. After the shir shel yom, I always add Monday's psalm, "gadol Hashem umehullal me'od b'ir elokeinu har kodsho." May it be God's will that next year we will dance the flags on to the Har Habayit, right up to the rebuilt Beit Hamikdash.

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