The Temple Institute: Searching for Jerusalem



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Searching for Jerusalem

December 26, 2000
© 2000 The Temple Institute, Rabbi Chaim Richman - All Rights Reserved

Despite Ehud Barakís denial, he can now be formally acknowledged as the willing architect of Israelís dismantling. Since the return of the Israeli negotiating team from Washington, reports in Israel, furiously dismissed by Barak as "speculation," indicate that he is poised on the brink of an agreement with the Palestinians that Jerusalemís mayor Ehud Olmert and others have called a "going-out-of-business sale." That is, a close-out sale of the State of Israel. How ironic that this weekís Torah reading recounts the precedent for this sale: the sale of Joseph by his brothers, an event of such grave consequences that even today, we are still reeling from its repercussions.

Grave consequences indeed. "Grave" is a word that "resigned" Prime Minister Barak uses quite often. Whenever Jews are murdered by Palestinian bullets, we hear how the Prime Minister considers the matter as "grave;" the media informs us that "the Prime Minister views this as a grave development, and says that he will know how and when to respond."

Those who follow the news in Hebrew alone are missing out on the double meaning of the word "grave." Hence, it is now being reported that Israel will happily settle for international recognition of itsí sovereignty underneath the Temple Mount. It seems the world is most comfortable relating to the Jews when their history, and they, are underground.

President Clinton is invested in seeing to it that a deal be closed under his watchful eye by January 10th, ten days before his term ends. He wants to leave himself time to attend to other matters during his remaining ten days in office, but meantime his first priority is to divide Jerusalem and irrevocably change its destiny. Thus he has proposed a series of far-reaching concessions for Israel to make, and for the Palestinians to accept, and today he made it clear that he will not accept any changes in these proposals. He has set tomorrow, Wednesday, as his deadline for the Israeli and Palestinian response to his proposals.

These proposals call for Israel to make concessions such as the relinquishing of 95% of the West Bank, as well as another 5% of land in the Halutza area in the Negev, and all of Gaza, to Palestinian control; the return of Palestinian "refugees;" and the division of Jerusalem. The Palestinians will receive official sovereignty over the Temple Mount, which has been off limits to Jews since September 28th. The Palestinians are expected to make some sort of guarantee to Israel that they will not dig underneath the Mount. In view of the fact that the Wakf has already spent the past year doing just that, and has destroyed thousands of tons of Temple era artifacts, such a guarantee seems not only worthless, but ridiculous as well.

Ministers in Barakís own government were angered that they were forced to learn of the details discussed in Washington from the press, and that they have not been included or kept informed. And an overwhelming majority in Israel is convinced that Barak is obsessed with signing an agreement to save his political career, and will do so at any cost (at the hour of this writing, 86% of readers who answered the Jerusalem Postís poll on this question agree ). Using his own brand of terror tactics, Barak threatened his cabinet and the nation that if an agreement with the Palestinians is not reached soon, "even if it is painful," the situation in the Middle East will deteriorate, and our peace with Jordan and Egypt will be jeopardized.

How many even remember the Jews who were killed or seriously wounded during the past week that the negotiations were going on in Washington? How many recall the names of the victims of shooting attacks and suicide bombers? Why wasnít the negotiating team called back to Israel after the very first incident? How was their presence in Washington perceived, while Israelis were fired upon at home, if not as a green light for such attacks from Ehud Barak, and an admission that violence will get the Palestinians everything they want? What is the significance of the murder of a man named Cohen, from the same clan who were the heroes of the Chanukah story in Temple times, shot while driving home along a major highway during the Chanukah the area of Modiíin, ancestral home of the Macabees? Shot at the very time that the Israeli team in Washington was agreeing to Clintonís demand to relinquish sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Mr. Cohen thus became the inverted image of Chanukah: a Priest, killed for no other reason than the fact of his being a Jew, against the backdrop of the Temple Mount.

The concessions offered by Israel while the Palestinian violence continued unabated were so staggering that even the Palestinians were reportedly amazed. But the Israeli public, deemed undeserving to know their own future, is left to guess. Barakís policy has been one of consistently leaving the electorate out of the entire affair, insisting that it is his responsibility not to inform them. It was this withholding of information that prompted Jerusalemís mayor Ehud Olmert to describe Barak as a "liar" regarding his intentions towards Jerusalem. Olmert also charged that Barak has agreed to give Palestinians full sovereignty over the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, the most ancient and important Jewish cemetery in the world.

According to Jewish tradition, the total of 36 candles that are kindled over the Chanukah holiday correspond to the 36 hours in which Adam enjoyed the original hidden light of creation before he was banished from the Garden of Eden. The Chanukah light is a spark of that untainted pure light, which is itself the light of the Holy Temple and the light of the messianic redemption. We are taught that G-d Himself will search out Jerusalem by candlelight, to punish those who conspire against her:

"And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees; that say in their heart, The L-rd does neither good nor evil." (Zephaniah 1:12)

This fateful week, during these long, dark Chanukah evenings, Jerusalemís windows and balconies are aglow with the Chanukah lights of the cityís faithful. Jerusalem, keenly aware of her past, is a city searching for her future, searching by the light of the Chanukah candles. She must search quickly, diligently, before the light dims and it is too late. There are those amongst us who are conspiring to make her disappear.

Rabbi Chaim Richman

PO Box 31876 Jerusalem, Israel 97500



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