Where Is Your Private Little Jerusalem?

Where Is Your Private Little Jerusalem?


Where is your private little Jerusalem? Ha, Ha! Well isn’t that a big old sheeyla amerikayit! I mean, when you grow up in the big old US
of A, Jerusalem can seem pretty small. But here we are in the Cardo, initially built
by the emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century. It’s certainly no Times Square, although
it was the hub of ancient economic life. But, wow, look at there pillars … pretty
big, no? Um. Right. But I didn’t mean “little” in a pejorative
or even— But hey, come with me. Let me show you the Rambam synagogue. —or even comparative sense. This way. This way. You mean RamBAN, right? Wow! Founded in 1267 by the illustrious Torah scholar,
Rabbi Moses Maimonides. Pretty impressive! Wow wow! Moses NACHmanides. But, yes, it’s … lovely! But of course, hey, let’s not waste time! Come with me … Mm, yeah, I think I know where you’re headed. But— Just a bit further …. wow, are you in for
a treat! I know where you’re going. But that’s not— Are you with me? Yes, I am with you. I’m so excited! Tada! The Kotel. The Kotel haMaaravee! The Western Wall! This is the awesome remnant of the great Temple
that stood here just beyond this wall, which was destroyed by the emperor Titus
in the year 70. Granted, it’s no Great Wall of China, but
when a Jew stands here for the first time, wow, Michael, you can really feel the power
and the glory. Wow wow wow! You know what I mean? I do know what you mean. I mean, think about it, just beyond that wall
was the great Temple built by King Solomon. And then the Second Temple. It just blows your mind, doesn’t it? I mean, Wow wow wow! And you know what else? Wow? Before King Solomon, before any Israelite
ever set foot in this Land, Hashem told Moses that this would be the place in which He would
set his special Holy Name. “The place which the LORD your G-d shall
choose to let His Name dwell there.” And that is Jerusalem according to Rashi. And the Talmud (Zevachim 119a). According to G-d Himself! G-d chose Jerusalem! Eventually, yes, absolutely. I’m just saying that in Deuteronomy, G-d
simply speaks very generically of a place which will serve as a dwelling place for
His Name. Which is Jerusalem! Which is indeed destined to be Jerusalem,
yes. But the verse in Deuteronomy, oddly enough,
does not refer to Jerusalem by name. It doesn’t? Wow! How come? Well, according to the 16th century Rabbi
Chaim ben Bezalel, who was the brother of the illustrious Maharal of Prague, this is
because, as the prophet Malachi says: “In every place offerings are presented to
My Name” (Malachi 1:11). Meaning that anywhere in the world where a
Jew can be found praying, that place counts as “the place that the Lord your G-d shall
choose.” Wait, wait, wait a minute. So every place is Jerusalem? I am not following you, Michael! So, this is what I meant by “Private Little
Jerusalem.” Oh! Little Jerusalem. I got it! Come with me! Come with me! So you see what I mean? Yes, yes, yes, Little Jerusalem. Come with me. Hey, where are you going? Little Jerusalem! Wait, you’re not going to … Cummon’ light on your feet now … Come on … Light on your feet …
Just a bit further, now … Is that Gan Sacher? This is not good … Tada! Mini Jerusalem. Welcome to Little Jerusalem! This is a miniature model of the Holy City
as it stood during the Second Temple period, that is, from the year 352 BCE until the year
70 CE. Isn’t it just so cute!! That’s very cute. And educational. It’s so cute, I could die! But I’m talking about another type of Little
Jerusalem. A type that’s not necessarily found in the
Land of Israel at all. You mean like a “Jerusalem” where you
pray to Hashem and offer sacrifices … A Jerusalem could be anywhere? I mean, even Alaska? Hashem is Alaska. Hashem is here, Hashem is there … Hashem is truly everywhere! But look. It says. I mean, I heard. It says in the Talmud that a Jew should always
live in Israel, because, well, it says that a Jew who lives in Israel has G-d, whereas
a Jew who doesn’t is, well, G-dless. And as G-d Himself tells the Israelites in
the desert: I want to “give to you the land of Canaan, to be your God” (Leviticus 25:38) Exactly! But the Talmudic text that you’re referring
to—from Ketubot 110b—needs to be interpreted. How come?! Isn’t the meaning obvious? “Anyone who lives outside”— Kol ha-dar be-chutzah la-aretz, “anyone
residing outside of Israel”: this residing refers to a permanent residence, to someone
who strikes roots so deep outside of Israel that they fail to turn in a deep way towards
Jerusalem when they’re praying. They fail to look forward to the Messianic
era when they will actually leave their place of residence and join Moshiach in Israel. So residing outside of Israel has to be done
with … shallow roots? Messianically speaking, yes. When Moshiach shows up, every Jew should be
prepared, excited, to leave all the comforts of their home and homeland in order to take
up residence in the messianic landscape of a messianically transformed Israel. Where the Temple will be rebuilt and the sacrifices
be offered again … And it’s precisely this readiness to move
to a messianically transformed Jerusalem that, ironically, makes it possible in the meantime
to perform the sacrificial offerings in a spiritual sense outside of Jerusalem. Spiritual sacrifices: that would be like … ? Offerings of the heart. In a word: Prayer. Which can be done wherever you may be. Oh! Wait a second, wait a second! I think I got it. I think I got it! Come with me … Again?! I thought that we were already— Come on in! This is so exciting! But … It’s … a little synagogue. Tada! My little Jerusalem! I mean, Jerusalem is about one’s connection
with G-d, right? It’s like one’s own little private Idaho. Which need not be in Jerusalem at all. It may well be in … Idaho. “In every place where I cause My Name to
be mentioned”—namely, wherever one connects to G-d through Torah and mitzvot—“I will
come to you and bless you” (Exodus 20:20). Every such place deserves to be called a private
little Israel. Even Idaho becomes a “holy land.” Wow wow wow … … when your mind and soul are turned to
Jerusalem. Dopff! I thought Jerusalem was irrelevant! Not at all. Oh, I’m so confused! Jerusalem – Jerusalem, Israel – but messianically
transformed Jerusalem, is in fact the ultimate destination and consummation of all your spiritual
strivings. But it can only be actualized as such when
the rest of the world has been transformed, through Torah and mitzvot, into private local
little Jerusalems. Ouch … What happened? Oh, nothing, I just forgot about my hand,
and it got stuck here …. Don’t forget your right hand lest your Jerusalem
loses its cunning.

4 thoughts on “Where Is Your Private Little Jerusalem?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *