Yom Yerushalayim: the Six Day War
G-d’s Miraculous Intervention on a Scale of Epic Magnitude
By Ariella Bracha Waldinger
On Saturday night May 16th, the 28th of the Hebrew month of Iyar, we begin the commemoration of the mind blowing, national holiday called Yom Yerushalayim or Jerusalem Day. This day, etched in the heart and soul of Jews around the globe is considered to be a day filled with God’s divine, miraculous intervention on a scale of epic magnitude. It is the day in which we celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem.
For the first time in over 2000 years, the holy city of Jerusalem came under the sovereign authority of God’s chosen people, following the capture of the Old City by our Israeli forces. This happened on June 7th, 1967 in the year 5727 of the Hebrew calendar during what was called the Six Day War due to the length of time the battle lasted. The fact is that the war had been won in the first two hours of the morning, when our Air Force destroyed the Arab air forces in six countries of the Middle East: Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq.
Three weeks prior to the outbreak of the war no one in the world could have imagined that the Jewish nation would soon return to the Temple Mount, to the Old City and to its devastated but sacred sites. In the six days of the war, we liberated the ancient cities of our Holy Bible. Within hours of the opening of the war radio Kol Yisrael (voice of Israel) announced the names of the cities which had been liberated by the gallant, holy soldiers of Tzahal: Beit Lechem, Yericho, Shechem, and then Hevron, the city of our forefathers. The war started on a Monday and by Shabbat the sixth and last day of the war, the children of Israel stood on the Golan Heights in the North, at the Suez Canal in the South, and in the holy city of Jerusalem in the center of the land. The state of Israel was now three times larger on the Shabbat than it had been on the previous Monday morning.
Below is from commentary on the Six-Day War found in the Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim Krengel Family World Mizrachi prayer book.
In 1967 Gen. Nasser of Egypt evicted the United Nations forces from the Suez Canal, which served then as the border between Israel and Egypt. He launched his infamous threat to ‘hurl the Jews into the sea.’ In retrospect this threat seems cartoonish, but when it was announced it was extremely intimidating and frightening. The 19 intervening years between 1948 in 1967 were not robust years of growth and expansion, but stark years of economic austerity and diplomatic isolation. Forced to wage continuing battles against our Arab neighbors we were almost constantly in a state of war.
During the period preceding the war women and children were dispatched to safe havens in Europe and the United States to place them out of harm’s way. For weeks on end children attending school simply recited Psalms for a few hours and then returned home. Test projects and curriculum seemed pointless. Much of the political and military planning was couched in terms of absorbing significant and inevitable casualties but hopefully, under optimal conditions, being able to conserve a remnant of the state of Israel. As the well-known gallows humor went, the last person to leave the country was instructed to shut off the lights in the Ben-Gurion airport.
Suddenly the miraculous occurred: people exited basements after the first night of battle to hear that the Egyptian Air Force had been eliminated. Most homes or buildings did not even have bomb shelters, rendering the inhabitants exposed to the predicted Egyptian strafing. For weeks Israel had begged King Hussein of Jordan to stay out of the war; we had no grievance with him as we battled the Egyptians to the south and the Syrians to the north. Astonishingly he was duped into joining the war by a false telegram sent by Gen. Nasser. As the latter’s tank divisions were being surrounded in the Sinai desert he conveyed a message to the monarch of Jordan that Egyptian divisions were marching on Ashdod and he was invited to join and take his share in the ultimate spoils of victory.
Beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, within days we were strolling the streets of Jerusalem, as we had returned to the biblical home land of Israel the land in which our forefathers crafted Jewish history. The return to these lands was completely unexpected, and planned for and a secondary consequence of Jordan’s entry into the war.
This salvation from the dastardly designs of our enemies was a wondrous manifestation of God’s divine intervention rendering these events Messianic in scope. Events of this magnitude aren’t purposeless—they augur future redemption! Witnessing miracles on this scale reassures us that we will behold and benefit from the future providence of HaKadosh Barukh Hu.
Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohein Kook, in his book Mo’Adei Ha Re’Iyah states, “Our ancient oath was and is for the sake of Jerusalem: If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill.” (Psalms 137:5.) Twice each year, a voice accompanies us in the majesty of this hope: “the holy eve of the Passover holiday, and at the conclusion of the holiest day of the Jewish year: Yom Kippur. This is the voice of the nation’s soul, as it calls out from the depths of its yearnings and anticipated longing: Next year in Jerusalem!” According to HaRav Kook, Jerusalem symbolizes our lofty vision for holiness and spiritual greatness. The herald of Jerusalem, speaks for our return to holiness, so that we may fulfill our national destiny as a kingdom of priests and holy nations (Exodus 19:6). Our prayers are directed towards Jerusalem, which our forefather Yaakov recognized as the “gateway to Heaven.” Over the millennia, Jews have faced the holy city of Jerusalem for all their prayers. Directing our prayers towards Jerusalem, whose name means the city of peace reminds us that our aspirations should be that Jerusalem become the focal point from which God’s prophetic message emanates to the world, as it says, “for the Torah shall come forth from Zion, and God’s word from Jerusalem”(Isaiah 2;3). HaRav Kook teaches that the name Jerusalem indicates the city’s function as a spiritual center for the entire world, influencing the nations of the world. “Jerusalem is the means by which Israel’s spirit of holiness penetrates and uplifts the inner life of distant peoples.” Its significance to the Jewish nation is both physical and spiritual and cannot be underestimated.
Jerusalem is the heart of the state of Israel… a nation that for 2 ½ thousand years faithfully kept the oath sworn by the exiles on the banks of the rivers of Babylon not to forget Jerusalem. David Ben-Gurion, in a speech in the Knesset in 1950 stated, “This nation will never accept the separation of Jerusalem.” Even when Jerusalem had lain desolate and unpopulated, Jews have always recognized it as the spiritual epicenter of Jewish history and knew that it would one day regain its previous lofty status. In fact, Jewish hearts and imaginations always remained loyal to our “Great City” and believed in its inevitable revival.
Jerusalem Day is a public holiday in Israel and thus many Jewish businesses may be closed or offer limited services so they can participate in the special events of the day. The day is marked with a wide range of events including the recitation in the synagogues of the prayer of praise and thanksgiving called Hallel. There are also street parades, barbecues, singing and dancing and lectures on the topic of Jewish history. There are state ceremonies but most importantly are the memorial services to commemorate those heroic men and women who died in the Six-Day War, so that we might build up our nation in our ancient G-d-given homeland.
As we reach Yom Yerushalayim, may we once again spend time in praise and thankfulness for G-ds divine and miraculous intervention every day of our lives. May we reflect upon the miracles he wrought on the 28th of Iyar, 1967 and also this summer in Protective Edge and throughout our long and valiant history. May we be mindful of all that He does for His nation in His beloved Holy Land. May we strive mightily to merit Moshiach and the Third Beit HaMikdash, speedily and in our days. May He send healing to all those in need during this month of healing. May we pray with all of our might for the safety of our nation and our Homeland as so many modern day forces attempt to bring about our downfall. May G-ds mercy be ever present with us. Amen.
With Blessings of love and light, Ariella Bracha