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The Systems of the Jewish Year

The Quest For Jerusalem

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Behold! I put before you today the blessing and the curse!

Can there be peace in Israel? We are all so frustrated by what seems to be a problem without any solution. The smartest people in the world can’t seem to figure this one out. Why doesn’t G-d send us a Prophet or a message with the answer to peace in Eretz Yisroel?

The answer is that the struggle for peace, for Eretz Yisroel and for the Geulah is a spiritual struggle. In a spiritual struggle there is never a clear answer because the challenge itself promotes growth.

Moshe directed the Jewish Nation to Mount Avel and Mount Grizim to hear the covenant, the blessing and the curse. Where are Mt. Avel and Mt Grizim?

“Cross the Jordan, as west as you can go, along the route of the sunset, amongst the Caananite who dwell on the Plain, opposite Gilgal, next to the Morah Plain” (Devarim 11; 30) The Torah reads like a print out from Google Maps. Exact directions. We are told exactly where to go for blessings and curses.

Yet, when Hashem wants us to go to the holiest spot in the world, Yerushalayim is not even mentioned by name. 19 times in the Chumash we are given the vague description, “Go to the place G-d has chosen”. We are never told to go to Yerushalayim!

The Gemara (Zevachim 54) tells us how King David and the prophet Shmuel racked their brains trying to find the exact place that G-d chose. Tehilim 132 is a description of the hassle King David went through until he found the “spot”! It was like a treasure hunt for the holy of holies. Why? Why was G-d so clearly unclear? He had to have a home for the Shechina, it had to be the exact place - he had to tell people how to get there, where they could walk, where they couldn’t - it’s all so important! Why didn’t G-d give us a hint?

The answer is, the quest for Jerusalem is a spiritual quest. On a spiritual voyage, the expedition, the trek, searching, yearning, finding it and just getting there, is the mission in and of itself! If we would know where it is then it wouldn’t be as holy.

For Dovid and Shmuel the search for Jerusalem represented a search for holiness and meaningfulness. They and all the Jewish people grew from being involved in the struggle.

Jerusalem didn’t come with a road map, peace doesn’t come with a road map and the direction of our lives doesn’t come with a road map either. If there would be a map there would be no growth. You can’t download spirituality.

As we welcome in the month of Elul and we begin our preparations for a New Year, we must keep in mind our G-d given challenge. “Leshichno Tidrishu”, always keep searching for Jerusalem, “Uvoso Shama!” and you will get there. By opening up our homes and our hearts we will have peace.

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