Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog
 Printer Friendly


 The holiday of Sukkot is a special and joyous one throughout the Jewish world wherever it is commemorated. But, here in the holy city of Jerusalem, it is uniquely joyous. Jerusalem is inundated with visitors who arrive here from every corner of the world and represent not only the variety of people that compose the Jewish people but also tens of thousands of people of other faiths and cultures.

It is truly the fulfillment of the prophecy of Yechezkel that Jerusalem would be the hub of humanity on the holiday of Sukkot and that all of those who participate in the celebration of the holiday in Jerusalem will be blessed with bounty and abundance. It is the realization that time alone is not the only thing that matters but that place and location also have a great deal to do with how we view life and experience history.
For many centuries, Jerusalem was empty and forlorn, not only around Sukkot but for the rest of the year as well. Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman in a letter written to his family back in Spain in 1267 describes sadly and vividly the desolation and isolation of the city of Jerusalem. He laments the fact that he could not even find nine other Jewish males in the city in order to conduct the prayer services with a proper quorum.
Contrast this to the scene in Jerusalem almost 800 years later, of teeming sidewalks of pedestrians and traffic choked streets of automobiles, all participating in the miracle that is the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem by the Jewish people against all odds, predictions and expectations.
I have often written and thought about the astounding fact that the great miracle that is the state of Israel and the return of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland has not yet registered in world society and unfortunately not even in much of secular Jewish society as well. And even religious and observant Jews who pray three times a day for the welfare of Jerusalem and the restoration of Jewish sovereignty, do not seem to take seriously the fact that Jerusalem is being rebuilt and that the Jewish people continue to return.
Simply being able to stand on the street corner on the holiday of Sukkot and watch what is transpiring in the holy city is to me a spiritual experience. The words of the prophets of Israel are actualized before one's very eyes. There may be those that live here in Jerusalem who take that fact for granted, but I, for one, do not do so. And the fact that on the holiday of Sukkot so many visitors, tourists, pilgrims and apparent strangers choose to come and spend this most happy of weeks here in Jerusalem testifies to the fact that we are living in a special time and certainly in a special place.
The city of Jerusalem is unrecognizable from what it looked like a century ago. More astoundingly, it is unrecognizable from what it looked like even a decade ago. The building of the city goes forth at a pace driven by the pent-up energy that had been stifled by millennia of exile, persecution and degradation. Once this energy was loosened by the creation of the Jewish state and by the return of millions of Jews to live in the land of Israel, the rebuilding of Jerusalem took on urgency.
According to the latest statistical information, Jerusalem has overtaken Tel Aviv as being the largest and most populous of all the cities in our country. Foreign investment in Jerusalem is constant and despite all the physical advances and infrastructure distractions – the noise, dust and the buzz of building machinery – Jerusalem is not lost its mysterious quality of contentment, spirituality and unbounded optimism.
There is a unique joy that one can experience simply by being a resident in his city. It is obvious that we are participants in one of the great historical events in the history of human civilization. And, as such, each individual privileged to live here or even simply to visit, realizes that one is but an actor onstage, part of an ensemble cast that is participating in a drama that is eternal and inspiring. All of this is on display in the streets and in the homes of Jerusalem on the great holiday of Sukkot.
Chag Sameach
Berel Wein

Subscribe to our blog via email or RSS to get more posts like this one.