The City of Jerusalem
Jerusalem is Zion. It is the site of the ancient Holy Temple of the Jews. It is new, it is ancient. It is eternal because it transcends time. Jerusalem is transcendental. Allen Hoffman wrote in his story, “Balancing Acts”:
“I returned to live in Jerusalem, and it wasn’t easy, because to live in Jerusalem is to surrender part of yourself. The nearness of generations makes the transient feel permanent and the permanent resident feel transient. All-encompassing Jerusalem.”
The author continues, in this transcendental linking of his new immigrant home, his ancient cultural home and his eternal, religious home:
“You are in the middle small, miniscule, and a creation of Jerusalem itself. It is even more complex for you are also, potentially, an essential part of Jerusalem. Surrender is victory! With so much at stake, the tension is dreadful and exhilarating. You can’t go home because you are home. You can only run away or be driven out and that is hardly new. That’s how you got where you came from in the first place. How can you make what is permanent temporary? And how can you make what is temporary permanent? You can only tell the old stories, but can you tell them better?”
Author, Allen Hoffman is expressing a nice ontological impression, albeit personal, of what the temporal bridge of Zion is like for those who cross this spiritual and extemporaneous Rubicon. And Jews, young and old, from all over the world make their sojourns, their pilgrimages, yearly, by the thousands, some to stay, some just to visit but as Hoffman writes, to live in Jerusalem (for a Jew) is to “surrender part of yourself” and likewise to not live in Jerusalem is to “surrender part of yourself.”
The city of Jerusalem is mentioned in the Torah as the city of Salem. Abraham, who met Melchizedek, the King of Salem, received a blessing from him there. The Midrash teaches that Abraham brought his son Isaac to be sacrificed there. The very spot where this happened isMount Moriah.
This is where King Solomon’s Temple was built, as directed King David by the Divinity and today, it is the site of the Dome of the Rock. Henceforth, say our sages, we call the city: Yireh Salem or Jerusalem. Consequently, the name, Jerusalem, is mentioned more than 600 times in the Torah.
After David’s conquest of the city in 1004 BCE, the city finally became the official royal residence and the capital of the new Jewish monarchy. David brought the Ark of the Covenant to the city with the intention of building a Temple to the Lord and making Jerusalem the religious and political capital of the people of Israel.
When the monarchy was divided after King Solomon’s death (ca. 930 BCE), Jerusalem remained the capital of the kingdom of Judah, whereas the capital of the kingdom of Israel changed a number of times. Today, Jerusalem is the capital of the modern State of Israel.