May 22, 2012

Everybody knows that the Prime Minister follows my blog religiously but even I was amazed at the speed to which he reacted to my bemoaning the fact that the tomb of the Rambam was not receiving enough attention. (see my blog of 10th May)

On reading my comments, Bibi rushed to a medical conference in Tiberius during which he was taken to visit the tomb of the Rambam.

The Rambam, who lived in the 12th century, was one of the greatest halakhic authorities of all time. He was also the philosopher-author of Guide to the Perplexed, a scientist and  royal physician to the Sultan. It became a common saying that  “From Moses [the lawgiver] to Moses [Maimonides], there was no one like Moses”.

Netanyahu’s decision came following a visit to the city of Tiberias last week, during which he was given a tour of the tomb of Maimonides.

Netanyahu was especially impressed by what he saw at the path leading to the tomb. Seven pillars have been placed on either side of the path, and each pillar has the name of one of the 14 sections of the Mishne Torah, also called the Yad  Hachazaka, the first compendium of halakhah organized according to topics and written by Maimonides. (Yad is the numberical equivalent of 14). It is one of the basic tools of Torah learning.

Naming the tomb of Rambam a heritage site will be done as part of a development program in the city of Tiberias, marking its 2000th anniversary. Netanyahu has also instructed Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar to examine the possibility of including visits to the tomb of Maimonides as part of the curriculum studied in schools.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said during the visit, “Maimonides was a philosopher, theologian, physician, astronomer, and a spiritual leader. His universal spirit is great and you cannot ignore his burial place. Maimonides is buried in Israel, in Tiberias, and we need to take care of his burial place.”

Last week, the government approved a NIS 145 million plan for tourism development of Tiberias.

The plan, which includes investment in the development of tourist sites, will feature construction of a promenade along Lake Kinneret – the Sea of Galilee.

Grants of up to 28 percent of the investment will be provided to private entrepreneurs to encourage construction of new hotels, officials said.

The city, home to some 45,000 residents, is located on the western bank of Lake Kinneret and features a shore that stretches a bit more than seven and a half kilometers long.

Tiberias mayor Zohar Oved recently announced that the city plans to build a new school of pharmacy in the city, which will be named after the Rambam.

Meanwhile on Yom Yerushalayim, Mercaz Harav Kook hosted the Prime Minister as is the custom every year. Still within the 30 day mourning period for his late father, he was moved to received an exchange of letters between his paternal grandfather and Rav Kook. He went on to make a rousing and moving speech promising the unity of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jewish people. Let’s hope that this was not merely political rhetoric.

In the same week, former Premier Ehud Olmert, gave a speech calling for the division of the Holy city!

I don’t read newspapers and certainly not haaretz or yediot but an article called ” There is no Zionism without Zion” by Eldad Eider was brought to my attention. It is most logical and well put. I quote:

The great Tanna, Rabbi Akiva, In a famous passage in the Talmud, quoted to his colleagues the vision of the prophet Zechariah (chapter 8)

4“Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Old men and old women will again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of age.
5 And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.
6“Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘If it is too difficult in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, will it also be too difficult in My sight?’ declares the LORD of hosts.
7“Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Behold, I am going to save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west; 8and I will bring them back and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness.’

As he said this, Rabbi Akiva smiled a great smile and himself became one of the greatest prophets ever (according to Eider).

About 1,800 years later, on 7th June 1967 this long awaited prophecy came true!

The descendants of those teachers of the mishna, who had been exiled to Babylon, Rome, Spain, France, Germany, England, Poland, Russia, Yemen, Morocco, Syria, Egypt, Libya,etc etc began to return to Jerusalem.

There is no precedent for this in the history of the world. The equivalent would be to take the inhabitants of Zanzibar. Tell them that we are going to spread you all over the world and persecute and hound you and your descendants. We are going to subject you to pogroms, forced conversions an a holocaust but after 1800 years your descendants will return to Zanzibar with the same religion and speaking the same language.
The Welsh can hardly preserve the welsh language living in peace in Wales. (My mother was welsh!)

In fact, Rabbi Yaakov Emden said that the continual survival of the Jewish people is the best proof of the existence of God!

It should be noted that in 1948, when the city was divided, 70,000 Palestinians quickly moved to the Israeli side rather than live under the Jordanians.
Nor should we forget what the late, lamented King Hussein did to the synagogues, yeshivot and grave stones when part of Jerusalem was under his control from 1948 to 1967!

According to the Jerusalem Institute for the Study of Israel this year 2012

89% of Jerusalem’s residents are happy (70% in tel aviv!)
70% believe that things are improving (60% tel aviv 60% in general population think so)

52%  of new residents in Jerusalem are aged 20 – 34

In Jerusalem there are 801,000 residents

497,000 Jews
281,000 Muslims
26,000 Christians
9,000 no religion

46% are employed – but the high unemployment rate does reflect unemployed Arab women and chafedi men

It is only since re-unification under Jewish rule that freedom of access and worship has been guaranteed to ALL. Let’s study this recent history and check out the facts. And let’s not be afraid to state them loud and clear.

We should also note that every Muslim even when in Jerusalem prays facing Mecca!
Whereas Jews the world over since the time of King Solomon onwards have faced Jerusalem. There is no Jewish ceremony – brit, wedding, funeral, or festival or shabbat without the mention of Jerusalem. We pray three times a day for the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

We have been privileged in our generation to witness this miracle. Let’s thank the Almighty for this gift an stop all talk of giving it away.

Yom Yerushalayim Sameach

Rabbi Meir Wise


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