We have now concluded the whole of the Seder celebration according to the regulations and precepts that have been laid down for us by our teachers. We have invited those who are needy to join us in our celebration. The children have asked why is this night different from all other nights. We have reviewed our history beginning with Laban who tried to stifle our faith almost at its inception. We have reviewed the four very different sons and their different approaches. We have mentioned the way that some of our greatest sages have celebrated the Passover very much in the way that we are doing. We have reviewed the wonder of the Ten Plagues that beset the Egyptians, tinged with regret that it was necessary, spilling the wine as a symbol of this regret, which at last forced them to let us go. We have recited the way our forefathers went out of Egypt under the care of God..
We have spoken about our crossing the Reed Sea. We spoke of the Matzah, which we ate then and still do. We ate the bitter vegetable in memory of the bitterness that our lives were in servitude. We drank the four cups of wine to commemorate the promise of salvation; we remembered the Paschal lamb offering which we are as yet unable to do. We ate a festive meal and gave thanks, we praised God for all his goodness that he has bestowed on us, and we have now come to the end of the Seder.
And now we make an appeal to God, an appeal that until the middle of the 20th Century of the Common Era was something that we could only hope for in the distant and almost unimaginable future. An appeal that for so many generations living for so long in the Diaspora was only a dream, a heartfelt dream but only a dream. And now after two thousand years, is within our grasp. We say NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM! In Eretz Yisrael we say NEXT YEAR IN THE REBUILT JERUSALEM! Considering Jerusalem still not completely rebuilt until the Holy Temple once more stands proudly at its centre when we will once again be able to celebrate the Passover as we are commanded to in all its glory wonder and happiness.
Jerusalem yearned for by our parents, grandparents, their grandparents, and their grandparents grandparents, for eighty generations. The Psalmist mourns By the waters of Babylon, There we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion.
On its willow trees we hung our harps......... How shall we sing the Lords song in a foreign land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I remember thee not If I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy (Psalm 137).
There are two Jerusalems, the earthly city capital of Israel, and its heavenly counterpart (Ta’anith 5a) which is alive in our minds and dreams. The earthly thriving bustling modern city with its Synagogues, Yeshivot, the Knesset building, seat of the government, its’ motor cars and buses, its’ markets and malls and shops its’ stores, its’ supermarkets with escalators and lifts, banks, schools, university and all the trappings of a modern city.
During the most bitter times in Jewish history The Roman destruction of Jerusalem and expulsion of the Jews, the Byzantine persecutions, the crusades during which Christians did not wait to go to the Holy Land to kill ”infidels” when the Jews “infidels” in their eyes were in every town and village in Europe, and when they did get to Jerusalem, murdered every Jew they could find. The Expulsion from Spain and the murderous Inquisition. The blood libels throughout the ages (even to the present day) where Jews were unbelievably and absurdly accused of using the blood of Christian children in the making of Matzoth. The pogroms in Russia, Poland and in every other country in Europe. Pogroms, oppressions, and blood libels in Moslem lands. The forced conversions to Christianity and Islam and finally the hideous and unspeakable, unbelievable, and still impossible to understand, murderous Holocaust by Germany and its many collaborators. And now the canard by Moslems which is believed by millions, that Jews have no connection to Jerusalem and that the Temple never stood there, although Jerusalem is mentioned in the scriptures some 700 times, and wept over for millennia.
In all this time the concept, and the vision, and the idea, of the ‘Heavenly Jerusalem’. The Heavenly Jerusalem yearned for by so many of our forefathers sustaining them for millennia, forever optimistic, the symbol of the Jews relationship with the Creator, the pinnacle of our religious fervour. The dream of our future. The Place of the Holy Temple. The Place to which we turn in our daily prayers. The Place at the centre of our Jewish aspirations, the Place where by Abraham’s submitting himself to God made the world aware of the heinousness of the crime of human sacrifice. The Place of Jacob’s dream The Place from which the word of God went out to the world,
“Come ye and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us His ways and we will walk in His paths for out of Zion will go the Torah and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem”. (Isaiah Ch. 2 V. 3).
No other Place is regarded by any people as is Jerusalem by the Jews. During all this time the Jewish Nation’s prayer was for salvation and the vision of “Next year in Jerusalem”. Now from all parts of the world in a relatively few hours the Jew can make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and to the centre of the world - Jerusalem. But, and there is nearly always a but, those fortunate enough to live in Eretz Yisrael and those even more fortunate to have the privilege of living in the Holy City, the Holiness is not complete. They say “Next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem”. Jews still yearn for the completion of the prophecy so that we may once again celebrate Pesach in the Holy City as it should be.
There is a well known story in the Talmud (Makkot 24b) featuring the famous Rabbi Akiva. He was traveling to Jerusalem with Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Eliezer ben Azariyah two of his colleagues who we have met earlier in the Haggadah in Bnei Brak who were with Rabbi Akiva when their pupils came and reminded them that it was time to say the Kriyath Sh’ma. Stopping on Mount Scopus they looked towards the ruins of the Temple and saw foxes running around in the ruins. Rabbi Akiva's companions burst into tears at the sight while he laughed with joy. “Why are you so happy” asked his companions He told them that just as the prophets foretold the destruction of Jerusalem so had they foretold the rebuilding of it. Now the destruction has come to pass so will its rebuilding. (Zech Ch..8).
We are told by our sages never to forget the fact that Jerusalem is not yet complete. And one of the ways we do this as strangely enough at a wedding one of the happiest highlights of Jewish life. In the midst of this happiness and joy at the joining of two souls and the establishment and founding of another Jewish family in the long line of Jewish continuity, the bridegroom breaks a glass under the Chupa, ( Or. Ch. 560:2). This strange-seeming custom is to remind us that our happiness is not complete and is tinged with our sadness for the destruction of Jerusalem.
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