Is the reference to the theory that every generation of Jews that does not rebuild our Holy Temple in Jerusalem is considered as if it was destroyed during our lives real or just an allusion to some nice and poetic idea? As we reflected on that destruction earlier this week on Tisha B’Av we also have to probably consider how many generations have passed since that upheaval of over 2,000 years ago and how many millions of us have contributed to that lack of rebuilding by not being effective or doing what needs to be done in order to get that edifice up on top of that majestic mountain rebuilt.
We know that just like it was prophesized that the Temple would be destroyed, so was it foretold that it will once again be rebuilt. The puzzle or perhaps the mystery is how do we get there from here or can we get that from here? Maybe we first have to define what “here” is or better yet where it is?
In Israel just three weeks ago, I was privileged to spend part of a day with Arieh King of the Israel Land Authority. Arieh is a powerhouse and a man fiercely dedicated to that rebuilding along with the ancillary requirement that if the Temple is to be rebuilt that Jerusalem be a Jewish city.
I was wondering the other day about what the best way to communicate what it is that Mr. King does and the fashion in which he does it. First of all he is a man of firm faith in the Torah and people of Israel and the attachment of the nation of Israel to this land without any compromises. His was one of the first families to bravely move into Maale Zeitim, an area of Jerusalem that used to be commonly referred to as Ras Al Amud. The King apartment not only overlooks the Temple Mount that today features the Golden Dome that houses a mosque under it, the apartment is actual level with the Mount and rather close or as close as you can get without actually being up there.
Maale Zeitim is on the other side of where the Bet Hamikdash once stood, that means on the other side of what we know as the Western Wall. Ten or so years ago when Jews first took over a series of apartments in this area it was a breakthrough that was shrouded in controversy. The property at the time was purchased through the philanthropy and generosity of Irving Moskowitz of the US amongst others. Also at about the same time it was discovered that some of the properties in this area were Jewish owned with legal documentation on file dating back to the 19th century. Back in those days Jews just moved on instead of facing off or fighting and Arab squatters just moved in living free on land that everyone involved was simply too frightened to make an issue about.
It was about that time that Mr. King took an interest in the legal disposition of this and eventually many other properties here in Jerusalem as well as in other areas of the country. He found that very often in areas where there are encroaching Arab populations, those residents are moving illegally into abandoned Jewish properties. As the year pass rightful owners either loses interest or is intimidated in some fashion into allowing a status quo to languish without any action.
On this Thursday morning that we met Arieh he told me he was going to take us into what is considered the hotbed of Arab nationalism in Jerusalem. The two communities we would visit were Bet Hanina and Bet Zafafa. Now the reader needs to understand that we have done this before. While I have always been concerned about what he was up to, where he was taking us and the kind of work he does I tend to look into his eyes and I try to discern whether or not he looks concerned about a situation that develops or not. So far in the half dozen times I have been with him looking at properties in what have become Arab parts of Jerusalem I have never seen him too concerned. Of course he always wears this leather shoulder bag around one arm and securely around his neck and it always clutching it next to him. I have never asked him whether there was a gun in that leather pouch of his but I assume or imagine that there is and that either worries me a little more or puts me more at ease, I’m not really sure.
More in this weeks 5TJT