Three Dreams for Jerusalem
In May 2017, Rabbi Sacks joined World Mizrachi at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem for their Yom Yerushalayim mission marking the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. Here is his keynote address.
Kvod HaRav, beloved friends.
What a totally amazing gathering this is, and what a great, unbelievable organisation Mizrachi is. May Hashem bless you all.
Friends, one of my favourite stories I heard from the late Elie Wiesel z”l, he said, Did you know that there was a time when Theodore Herzl and Sigmund Freud lived together in the same street in Vienna? He said, luckily they never met! He said, can you imagine what would have happened had they met? Theodore Herzl would have said, I have this dream of a Jewish state. Sigmund Freud would have said, tell me, Herr Herzl, how long have you been having this dream? Lie down on my couch and I will psychoanalyse you. Theodore Herzl would have been psychoanalysed, cured of his dreams, and today there would be no Medinat Yisrael. Friends, we are the people who are never cured of our dreams.
And we have three great dreams. Dream one: t’ka bashofar gadol l’cheruteinu v’sa neis k’kabeitz g’luyoteinu, the dream of kibbutz galuyot. That dream began with the first Aliyah in 1882 and that dream came true.
The second dream: Hashiva shofteinu k’varishona, Ribono shel Olam, let us rule ourselves and not be ruled by others, and that dream came true on the 5th of Iyar 5708, on Yom Ha’atzmaut.
But there always was a third dream: v’liYrushalayim ircha b’rachamim tashuv. And that prayer, uttered by almost a hundred generations of our ancestors, came true 50 years ago today, and that we have seen the fulfilment of the greatest dream of them all.
Friends, no other people in all of history has had a relationship with a city to compare with ours with Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh. There were other great cities. There was Babylon, there was Athens, there was Rome. But did anyone ever say of Babylon or Athens or Rome what our ancestors said about Yerushalayim: im eshkacheich Yerushalayim tishkach yemini. Or in the words of that supreme poet, the rap singer Matisyahu, Jerusalem, if I forget you let my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do. No people in all of history loved a city in the way the Jews loved and longed for Yerushalayim.
It is said that in the early 1800s Napoleon was passing a shul on Tisha b’Av and he heard crying and tears and wailing and lamentation, and he asked one of his officials, what are the Jews crying about? His official said to him, they’re crying because they’ve lost Jerusalem. Napoleon said, when did they lose Jerusalem? The official replied, 1,700 years ago. Napoleon replied, a people who can mourn Jerusalem for so long will one day have it restored to them. And so it was.
Rav Soloveitchik zt”l pointed out one of the great ironies which sometimes we forget, that during the Six Day War itself, as Israel faced the massed armies of Egypt in the south and Syria in the north, the Israeli government sent messengers secretly to King Hussein of Jordan begging him to stay out of the war. They said we have no quarrel with you or with Jordan, we don’t want to fight, and yet King Hussein refused to listen. He launched an attack, and only because of that was Israel forced to fight, and in one of the toughest battles of the war in which Israel and Tzahal lost so many, many, many young and heroic lives, because of that came the words that moved and lifted every Jewish heart in the entire world: Har Habayit b’yadeinu. And the city came back to the people who never forgot it and never gave up hope for it.
And we have lived to see Jerusalem reunited and rebuilt and one of the great wounds of Jewish history has been healed and we say humbly and with gratitude, mei’eit Hashem hayta zot, hi niflat b’eineinu. We are the people who were never cured of our dreams and Mizrachi is the guardian of those dreams, and the greatest dreamer of those dreams of all was Yishayahu Hanavi, in his vision, his chazon, of Yerushalayim of the future, and what the greatest of the prophets, Yishayahu Hanavi, could only see in a vision we have lived to see with our own eyes today. First of all, he had three visions, three dreams.
Number one: v’halchu amim rabim v’amru l’chu v’na’aleh el har Hashem. Many peoples will say, come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and knowing it was Mizrachi, and knowing it was the 50th anniversary of Yerushalayim. Today we had the President of the United States also saying, come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, the first time an active President of the United States has gone up to the mountain of the Lord.
Then came his next dream: Ki mitzion teitzei Torah u’dvar Hashem miYerushalayim. And when in all of history, whether there are as many young men and young women learning Torah in Yerushalayim, many of them from you, from Bnei Akiva, more than at any other time in history. And therefore if the prayers of one hundred generations of our ancestors have been answered, and two of the three dreams of Isaiah have come true in our time, shall we not live to see the third and most important dream of all: lo yissa goy el goy cherev v’lo yilamdo od milchama, a time when nations will finally learn not to lift up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. That must be our prayer, that peace in Yerushalayim should send a message of peace to the world.
May He whose Name is Peace bring peace to the city whose name is Peace, and from there let it spread throughout the Middle East and throughout the world. And let Yerushalayim inspire not just us but the world, bimheira biyameinu. Amen.