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daniel eliezer

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Join date : 2011-12-01
Location : Beit El, Israel

PostSubject: Yom Yerushalayim – Jerusalem Day   Tue May 07, 2013 9:02 am

For those who have difficulty with the transliterated Hebrew and who don't have access
to Jewish libraries, most transliterated Hebrew can probably be found through Google.

If the word is critical to what I'm saying, then it is explained.
* * *
According to our calendar, tonight begins the 28th of Iyar, the day when 35 years ago Jerusalem was liberated and restored to us and we to it.

יום ירושלים - Yom Yerushalayim – Jerusalem Day

A few super-quick ‘facts’ and then some good stories.

For those of us who don’t know, the return of the Holy Jewish People to the Land of Israel commenced with the Vilna Gaon and the Ba’al Shem Tov (early 1700s), and our returning is known as "שיבת ציון" ‘ - ‘Returning to Zion’. Jews began coming in trickles, which would become a stream, which would become a flood bringing the ingathering of Jews from all corners of the globe. By the mid 19th to early 20th century, not just settling in but outright building the Land of Israel itself became the goal. Before this time, however, our desire for Israel was always and most fervently expressed as, ‘ירושלים עיר הקודש’ – Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh, Jerusalem the Holy City. We were coming to Yerushalayim the Holy City, even if we would end up and settle elsewhere in the Land of Israel. With the need to rebuild the entire nation, most Jews who came would go elsewhere, while only a fraction of Jews would succeed in settling in Yerushalayim the Holy City.

The first war attempting to annihilate us came when we declared Statehood in the spring of 1948, and in that war for independence we were incapable of defending and thus were driven out of those parts of the Old City of Yerushalayim the Holy City we’d been living in. It wouldn’t be until nineteen years later, when the united Arab armies again tried to annihilate us in June1967, that we would succeed in liberating both Yerushalayim the Holy City and all the Land of Israel that resides between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.

Okay, on the infinitesimal point of a needle these are ‘the facts’, understand and make use of them as we will. What we want to understand from these ‘facts’ is that for over two hundred years Jews had been fulfilling generations and generations of prayers and tears and dreams of ‘returning to Yerushalayim the Holy City’. Despite this, we see that when the dust of battle settled in 1948, we discovered that we no longer had any possession of Yerushalayim the Holy City.

The question we want to ask is, “Why is it that in 1948 the Holy and Compassionate One gave us supremacy over a portion of the Land of Israel, but at the same time He deprived us entirely of any presence in Yerushalayim the Holy City?” And don’t let us make any mistake and think that it wasn’t taken away from us, for it could just as easily have been left with us!?

Since it’s easier and more common for us to think in military terms and so forth, we know or we’ll learn that it was the prowess of the Israeli Defense Forces which obliterated another united Arab attempt to annihilate us. When, however, you ask military schools, military strategists, and military historians, the say, “by all military standards the Six-Day War was the purest of miracles, simply because it’s absolutely impossible to win a war in 6 days!” The minute war begins, the unpredictability of events rockets so fast and far makes the probability of everything going exactly right so astronomical as to be unachievable. And here we’re talking military strategy and science, not religious strategy and God’s rules or whatever.

We may or may not know this, but in Sefer Tehilim (the Book of Psalms) we come across pasukim describing the goyim, i.e. the nations of the world, praising God for what He does. This is not something that Jews emphasize or even really pay attention to, but then again David HaMelech, King David, was no ordinary Jew. At any rate, in the Six-Day War during the fighting in the Gaza Strip, an Israeli tank became disabled and couldn’t move. The tank commander was afraid to go outside to inspect the damage, but after realizing that in not doing anything they were a ‘sitting target’ he opened the hatch and jumped out. Within moments an Arab came running up to him calling out, “I’m an engineer. I’ll help you!” The incredulous and disbelieving tank commander answered back, “You’re the enemy! You want to help me?!” Replied the Arab, “They’re not fighting Jews; they’re fighting God. I don’t fight God.”

His, “they’re fighting God,” is not understood nor accepted by everyone nor even understood or accepted equally when it is. Especially by Jews.

The Six-Day War was fought from the 26th of Iyar to the 2nd of Sivan (June 5-10 that year ) [see footnotes], ending four days before the Yom Tov of Shavuos. Instantaneously there began an endless and ongoing flow of Jews to the ‘כותל’- Kotel, i.e. the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, to pray and to rejoice. Yerushalayim was inundated with media from all over the world, and so was the Old City and the Kotel. One of those Jews was a severely hunched-back man who also approached the Kotel and stood there for whatever time. Finally, his lips moved, he stood erect, and then turned to leave.

People exploded in astonishment, “A MIRACLE! A MIRACLE! DID YOU SEE IT?! A MIRACLE!” and so on and so forth, expanding in explosive excitement as what had happened spread through the crowd and the media. The Jew was surrounded and swamped by the crowd who couldn’t stop their excitement and cries of, “A MIRACLE! A MIRACLE!”

Somehow, after considerable exertion, the Yid succeeded in quieting everyone enough so he could speak. “It’s not true; it wasn’t such a miracle…” and an uproar of protest interrupted him, but finally he could continue, “…You have to understand. I was born and grew up here in the Old City. When we were driven from our homes in 1948 I said to myself, ‘How can you walk upright when you’ve been exiled from your home?’ and so I began to walk with my eyes downcast, and as you saw time did to me what it did.”

Again an uproar of protest burst out. “Who cares? It’s still a miracle! You came here hunched-back and you’re walking away upright. What else could it be other than a miracle?!”

“No, you don’t understand. As I stood there at the Kotel, just before I turned to leave I said [the blessing], ‘Baruch Atah HaShem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam zokeif kafufim,” and I straightened up and walked away erect.” (This blessing is from our morning blessings, and loosely translated it means ‘Blessed are You God, King of the World [who] straightens those who are bent over.”)

What does it really mean ‘זוקף כפופים’ – zokeif kafufim, straightens those who are bent over and…even better…“why does God do it?

To answer “why does God do it?”, I want to share a personal story, a story that shows how we Gerim often perceive in ways that Jews are oblivious to.

Yom Yerushalayim - “Him and me and God. It was enough.”
[This story happened 5757-1997]

A number of years ago when our daughter Ayelet was bat mitzvah during Pesach, my parents had to cancel their plans to come from America because my father was sick. A few weeks after Pesach I went to visit them instead. Thank God, I was very fortunate that in that visit I succeeded in doing the mitzvah of bikur cholim (visiting the sick) as my presence genuinely contributed to helping put my father on the road to recovery.

When I left America to return to Israel in late May, I was very grateful that my visit had accomplished its purpose, and much of the visit filled my thoughts when the plane lifted off after midnight from NYC. The El Al plane, as usual, was filled, and a considerable number of the passengers were religious Jews (Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox, and Hasidim) from the NYC metropolitan area.

Once airborne, I fell asleep and perhaps some two hours later, around 2:00 A.M., a tap on my shoulder woke me up. I opened my eyes in questioning acknowledgement and was told, “Shachris (morning prayers).” Groggily I looked around the dimly lit cabin at the deeply sleeping passengers and with a shrug turned back to sleep. My ‘friend’ wasn’t deterred and said, “Nu! Shachris, shachris!” We were flying east into the morning and north into an even earlier start of day that comes in the late spring and early summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Since the plane would eventually turn south towards Israel, I knew that I could still daven (Yid. pray) later on within the acceptable time frame, so I said, “Later!”, to which he replied, “Nu! Nu!” [‘Nu’ is a verbal ‘nudge’, just like it sounds.]

I was wearing a black kippah (yarmulke), a white shirt, gray suit, tzitzits, and a beard, which labeled me as ‘belonging’ [to the Orthodox crowd], and I knew, therefore, that this was not an argument that I was going to win easily so I got up to daven. Now, even though half asleep, I wasn’t so dumb. Everyone had crowded around the back of the plane by the restrooms to daven. Not being particularly enthused by the smell and the crowding and the pushing of passengers going to and from the facilities, I went to the kitchen area and started davening. Because the stewardesses were sleeping, there was no one there, and I had plenty of room and comfort to myself.

Somewhere in the middle of pirkei d’zimrah (the morning psalms), just as I was envisioning a reasonably peaceful davening, another good-hearted person came over to me and said, “Nu, nu!” Knowing that he wanted me to join the minyan (quorum of 10 men) (which already included some 40 men), I nevertheless felt willing to forego the mitzvah of davening with the minyan and I shrugged him off. “Nu! Ba’rchu, ba’rchu!”, he nudged, so I turned reluctantly and followed him back, where I literally jammed myself in among the other daveners. I struggled to have some sense of concentration as I was bumped and in turn bumped around by everyone else when the airplane’s motion and the visitors to the restrooms pushed us this way and that.

I wasn’t leading the davening, just merely one of the minyan, but when the ba’al tefilah (prayer leader) finished the last blessing of the shemoneh esrei, I raised my voice and said, “Baruch Atah Elokeinu Melech HaOlam asher k’deshanu b’mitvosav v’tzivanu l’kroh es haHallel.” (The blessing before saying Hallel, “…who commands us to recite Hallel.”) There were cries of surprise and startlement and incomprehension, especially because everyone was ready to say tachanun (the regular penitentiary prayers). As I continued reciting Hallel with a raised voice, suddenly everyone realized that I was saying it because the day was ‘Yom Yerushalayim’- Jerusalem Day.

Within seconds, the various elbows and shoulders and midriffs that had become a part of my anatomy had disappeared. I now commanded a comfortable area of least one yard in every direction that was unoccupied, and since no one could figure out how to stop me there I stood and proclaimed Hallel - much to their annoyance and distress.

All these people in the minyan and others like them (maybe even a quarter and perhaps more of the airplane) when asked, “Where’re you going?” would answer with noticeable emotion, “Eretz Yisrael” (Land of Israel) or “Yisrael” or “Yerushalayim” [which they pray for three times a day!?], but in those few seconds it dissipated. They were going to visit or going to their homes. I was going home - it makes a difference. When you’re going home, you’re grateful and you sing! A few of them had the ‘courage’ afterward to comment upon my ‘unbecoming behavior’, and those who didn’t well looks tell a lot…

Ahhh….I forgot! The Israeli businessman, the one with the knitted kippah (yarmulke) who didn’t ‘belong’ and who hadn’t been invited to join ‘our’ davening, but because he was only three rows forward of the back of the plane had to endure all of our commotion. I became aware of his existence when in the middle of Hallel he stood up and turned around to face me beaming radiantly with the most beautiful smile.

Sometimes God gives you the most wonderful of blessings in the strangest of times and places. Him and me and God. It was enough.

Shir HaMa’alot [Ps.122:1-4]: [Sing] the song that goes up for David that I rejoiced when they said to me “Let us go to God’s House”. Our feet were standing in your Gateways Yerushalayim. Yerushalayim that has been built up, as a city that is connected together. [Heavenly and Earthly Yerushalayim] That there the tribes, the tribes of God, brought up testimony to Israel to give thanks to God’s Name.”

* * *
Coming back to us, in 1948 Yerushalayim wasn’t left in our hands, but in 1967 it was returned to us. The Holy One, Blessed be He, wants us to know that Yerushalayim isn’t part of the Land of Israel. It’s distinct and special; it’s the Heart…the heart of the Land of Israel, the heart of the Jewish People, the heart all that is between us and the Holy and Compassionate One. "שיבת ציון" - the ‘Returning to Zion’… ‘ציון’- Zion is Yerushalayim. As much as we are ‘Returning to Zion’, Zion is even more ‘Returning to us’. We are so blessed to be part of the generation that has returned to the Land of Israel and the generation which Yerushalayim has returned to it.

For those who have listened to the “Interview with a Convert to Judaism” which is running around this site somewhere and which is an interview with me, they perhaps remember my talking about being anti-Semitic when I was in high school and about my recounting how during my senior year (winter 1966-7)…“I opened a prayer book and read in some Psalm the word ‘Israel’ and I literally physically froze insideinside I just lit up. I was stunned. The astonishment was I saw it from some place deeply inside meit touched me in a way I didn’t understand…”

I have had no few extraordinary experiences both before and after my becoming a Jew, but of all of them this has always been the most inexplicable and unfathomable. Even when we did the interview I didn’t understand it. During the year that has passed since, it has occupied my thoughts often, and I finally came to understand. In however or whatever way and for whatever Divine reasons, I was looking at ‘Yerushalayim’ – so deeply, deeply inside me…looking at the essence of my being…looking at Yerushalayim.

Yom Yerushalayim Sameach,
Daniel Eliezer

[1] A very short and simple timeline relating to the Six-Day War. [http://www.sixdaywar.co.uk/timeline.htm]

[2] The month of June 1967 with the corresponding Hebrew dates can be seen at: [www.hebcal.com] Make certain you mark the box on the right side: “Show Hebrew date for entire date range

* * *
What I write doesn't invite comments within the topic, but I do want you to know
that all are welcome to write me should you have any questions or comments.

I can be reached at: d.e.ben.eitan@gmail.com.
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Salvia



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PostSubject: Re: Yom Yerushalayim – Jerusalem Day   Thu May 09, 2013 9:52 am

I hope I can ask a question here...

Why didn't the religious jews want to say the special prayer for Jerusalem day? Because it is a national holiday, as opposed to a political holiday?
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daniel eliezer

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PostSubject: Re: Yom Yerushalayim – Jerusalem Day   Tue May 14, 2013 5:09 am

For those who have difficulty with the transliterated Hebrew and who don’t have access
to Jewish libraries, most transliterated Hebrew can probably be found through Google.
If the word is critical to what I’m saying, then it is explained.

* * *

The clothing nuns wear is called ‘a habit’, right? Why they call it this I don’t know, but in all honesty religion can easily be nothing more than a garment we wear – nothing more than ‘a habit’. For the truly religious...with or without garments...religion is always a searching for and a wanting to be close to God.

As to these particular Jews – and even mostly all the other Jews on the plane, the return of Yerushalayim touched every Jew in the deepest place inside him and her, and everyone was as filled with profound gratitude us with the greatest exaltation and joy. But we’re also human beings...creatures of habit, and when God gives us things, even things that we’ve been praying for and crying for and wishing and hoping for throughout generations and generations and generations...sadly we discover that we’re not there in being ready and willing and open enough to accept what God is giving us. For God we’ve got to ‘expand’, while mostly we prefer to be shrinking violets (except when we become violents, nebech). Still, God’s not God for nothing, and what’s been given is all for the sake of returning and restoring and fixing and healing...and while there are those who can do it on the instant, or almost so, apparently the entirety requires a longer duration.

At any rate, let me share with you a story...a story about ‘Yerushalayim’...and maybe we can get a taste of what Yerushalayim is all about. One quick note, the word ‘alter’ that appears in the following means ‘old’ in Yiddish, and the play of words is from the Yiddish ‘alter kaker’, which means ‘old person’.

God’s Pipeline!

Last summer [2003], a generous soul decided to donate money in order to increase the Simcha in Eretz Yisrael. He turned to Yehudah Katz and Reva L’Sheva [Youtube], along with other musicians, to organize a series of free concerts throughout the Holy Land, and thus was born the concert series “Am Yisrael Chai” [the People of Israel are Alive and Living]. Besides the normal headaches, obstacles, and errors encountered in any new adventure, the almost daily and definitely weekly terrorist attacks of last summer wreaked havoc with the concert series. Thank God, those involved are blessed with the courage, desire, and faith to build Am Yisrael, and so the concert series was continued this summer. Because of the lessening of the frequency of terrorist attacks, the atmosphere here isn’t as horrific, and this year’s concerts were more open and lively and successful.

Last Thursday night’s Rosh Chodesh “Am Yisrael Chai” concert at Kikar Zion [location in the center of Jerusalem] closed the summer’s festivities in Jerusalem. I grabbed as many of my children as I could round up and headed for the concert, just as I always do whenever Reva L’Sheva is performing. As one of Ben Zion Solomon’s ‘alter rockers’, I am, also, a self-proclaimed ‘alter groupie’ and I have been known to go to lengths to get to a Reva L’Sheva concert. Unlike typical groupies, I don’t Ooooh... and Aaaah... over the performers or music; I just go to DANCE! DANCE! DANCE! If I am fortunate, they will play for several hours during which I will dance myself into total exhaustion so that then I can really begin to DANCE!

I am not a particularly good dancer; I just let go and let the music take me. Were you to watch me dancing you would have one of two reactions. You would look at my wildly gesticulating body and exclaim, “Who is that God’s gift to lunacy?!” Or you would be trembling inside and saying, “I want to do that! I want to let go and open up like THAT!” There is no in between. It’s either despicableness or Holiness.

When I dance everything but everything disappears - except for the music and two things. I am always conscious of how others are dancing, and I am always conscious of who is not dancing. For the former, I dance to raise their level of Simcha. As much as the youth like to jump and move, when they see someone their father’s age roaring past them then they know that there is more to it, where to go.

For the latter who are not yet dancing, I move into the crowd and with an extended hand and a gentle tug bring them into the merriment. It never fails to astonish me how people just need a touch of encouragement and immediately they’re part of the Simcha. (I find this to be especially true at weddings where many people encounter Shlomo’s Simcha firsthand for the first time.) Even those, who in the beginning refuse, by the end of the evening they usually can no longer resist. I have had many wonderful experiences introducing people to the dancing and Simcha, from children to grandfathers, and I remember one concert in Yerushalayim when I took the hands of a young, blind man. Within a few minutes he had the beat of Yehudah and company, so I let his hands go and wow did that Holy Jew DANCE!

We all know that every Jew is Simcha, pure and simple. Except for the spiritually lobotomized, if the Moshiach would come this instant we would just explode in joy. There isn’t any need to build up to it and learn it and develop it. It’s there inside us waiting for the moment to burst forth. Simcha dwells in the heart of every Jew. Why the heart? Because the heart is where the Shechinah [Divine Presence] dwells, and just as the presence of the Shechinah in Yerushalayim creates Simcha in the Beit HaMikdash, so too does it create Simcha in every Jew. In fact, when we open our hearts and give, we are giving others our Yerushalayim - our Simcha. As my wife’s cousin’s two year old daughter exclaimed indignantly when told that the family was going to Yerushalayim: “Not Yur-shalyaim; MY-shalayim!” [Ye-ru-sha-ly-im is how the word is pronounced in Hebrew, but when it’s pronounced too fast or sloppily it can be heard as ‘Yur-sha-ly-im]

So this past Thursday night, Rosh Chodesh Elul, I joined the dancing. It wasn’t so much a concert as it was an ongoing stream of performers doing a song-or-two-or-three with Reva L’Sheva providing accompaniment and backup. All in all, though, it was dancing and fun and happiness and a genuinely good time for everyone. I danced with the youth, but when Reva L’Sheva started doing their own bit, I moved back into the crowd to find some new dancers. Particularly, I headed for a young, blind man who was standing in the back swaying with the music. Taking his hands we moved forward a few steps and started dancing.

He was comfortable but nothing like my previous blind dancer, so instead of letting him go solo I invited the person accompanying him to join us. As we circled slowly, I became aware of a young, teenage boy sitting in a wheelchair next to where they had been standing. Wanting to include him, too, I guided our circle over to him where I grasped one of his hands and the blind man’s friend grasped his other.

My intention was that we would just stand in place and move with the music, but as we touched his hands he immediately stood up and joined our circle. Not only was I astonished, but I wouldn’t have even considered this possible because this boy’s legs are severely disfigured. But...so what?! Gevaldt! So we danced, the four of us, while the person who pushed the wheelchair stood behind its former occupant to make certain that he wouldn’t fall.

For a minute or two we moved slowly, then I let go of the group and extended my hands to this young, disabled boy. He took my hands and we danced at arm’s length for perhaps half a minute, when suddenly he took a step forward and fell into my outstretched arms hugging me. Without missing a beat, I gave him a huge hug in return, and we started dancing together locked in our embrace.

I BLESS ALL OF YOU AND ALL OF ISRAEL that someone somewhere will embrace you in your lifetime like that boy embraced me. He wasn’t just dancing; he was flowing - flowing from some place that I’d sure like to be. There was so much love pouring - literally pouring - out of him. It was like I was dancing at the end of a pipeline that led straight to God’s heart!? Everything but everything disappeared as he and I danced around and around, heart-to-heart like two tremendous lovers. I couldn’t get enough of him. When the song ended (Aah.... the song, Gevaldt! what else but “Ahavat Yisrael BaNishamah” [Love of Israel is in your Soul] by David Abramson.), we stood longingly in embrace.

As I led him back to his friend and wheelchair, I discovered that he was part of a group of people with physical limitations. Unaware of what had transpired, one of the women chaperones mouthed to me, “Thank you!” I was too emotionally overwhelmed to be able to respond to her, but I couldn’t help thinking, “Thank ME?!” “THANK HIM!”

It wasn’t until the next day, somewhere between Shachrit and Musaf that it finally occurred to me what had happened. This boy had opened his heart and given me his Yerushalayim. How?

All of us have something that we are incapable of or feel that we are incapable of, yet nevertheless we long with all our being to able to do it. What could someone who is imprisoned in a wheelchair ever want more than the freedom to escape his/her prison, even if only for a few minutes? What desire could ever be greater than the desire to have the freedom of movement, to let the body do whatever it desires? What could torment the heart more than to watch helplessly while someone does effortlessly what has been denied you?

Watching that most deeply coveted desire that was there before his eyes, that young boy saw his moment of freedom, saw his greatest dream, and he wouldn’t be denied. With whatever courage and however much pain it took, he literally rose to his feet to embrace that dream - to embrace his Yerushalayim. Did he know that God was with him literally every step of the way? Did he know that he was giving it all to me? Who knows? I don’t, and I don’t care. I only know that God danced with that boy that night, and I know that that boy was giving all of it - every single bit of it - to me.

It isn’t mine, though. It’s all of ours. It’s some of the Holiness that God gave him to bring into this world.

In the name of that Holy boy, I bless myself and everyone one of us and all Yisrael that when our moment comes that we, too, will have the courage to step forward and embrace our Yerushalayim, and because it is coming from God that we too will give it - all of it - to whoever is closest to us at that moment.

To connect another Jew to God’s pipeline - GEVALDT!!

B’Shalom,
Daniel Eliezer

* * *
What I write doesn’t invite comments within the topic, but I do want you to know
that all are welcome to write me should you have any questions or comments.
I can be reached at: d.e.ben.eitan@gmail.com
.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Yom Yerushalayim – Jerusalem Day   Fri May 17, 2013 12:57 am

I suspected that my own primary lay-led minyan says Hallel for Yom Yerushalayim, but wasn't completely sure because I don't attend daily weekday morning minyan except for in the summer when my kids are away and so that my morning schedule is more flexible. But today at services for the second day of Shavuot (at my other "tiny" lay-led minyan), I thought to check the "Luach" published by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Rabbinical Assemby---a small book made for each year giving special information for each day: Torah/haftarah readings, special prayers, etc. I was looking through it anyway since I was coordinating the services today, so I wanted to make sure we didn't leave out any of the special items for the holiday. I verified that officially the Conservative Movement says full Hallel for Yom Yerushalayim. And since my minyan does follow the movement rules for that kind of ritual item (even if it was proudly "independent" until a "merger" with the remnants of its "host shul" several years ago), I can be sure that my minyan davens Hallel for Yom Yerushalayim. I think we would do so even if not in the Luach because it is in keeping with the Zionist sentiments of the group (so far about 10% of the minyan kids who are adult have made Aliyah). Interestingly, the "Luach" says that Hallel is only "said by some" for Yom Ha'atzmaut
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