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Shabbat Parashat Shoftim| 5764

Upgrading Yerushalayim

Harav Yosef Carmel

For 3,000 years, Yerushalayim has served as the center of the Jewish people in Israel and throughout the Diaspora. Yerushalayim, the Holy City and the City of the Holy Temple, symbolizes the connection with Hashem, and there a Jew can feel a strong connection with the nation as a whole. Many mitzvot are linked directly to it, like the mitzva of eating ma’aser sheni.
 So too, in our parasha, the centrality of Yerushalayim appears prominently (although not by name) in the section which deals with the High Rabbinical Court (Beit Din Hagadol), which was located in the Lishkat Hagazit, on the Temple Mount. “Should a matter be unknown to you … you shall get up and go up to the place that Hashem will choose for you … and you shall do according to the thing that they shall tell you from the place that Hashem will choose, and you shall be careful to do as they will instruct you” (Devarim 14:8-10).
 All of the Jewish people, wherever they are, are bound by the instructions, rulings, and injunctions of the Beit Din Hagadol. Part of their authority stems from the special location in Yerushalayim, the Divinely appointed place, connected to the Beit Hamikdash.
 Many among the nations of the world quote the “Prophecy of World Peace,” which is found in the beginning of Sefer Yeshayahu (2:1-4). “The prophecy of Yeshaya … The mountain of the Temple of Hashem will be firmly established … They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; a nation will not lift up a sword against another nation, and they shall no longer study warfare.” Some put great emphasis on the element of the end of war and killing in the world, which certainly is contained within the prophecy of Yeshaya. However, if one looks at the p’sukim, he will find a clear linguistic link between the section on the Beit Din Hagadol and the prophecy of Yeshaya. The two sections share at least ten expressions.
 This “intentional coincidence” teaches the following lesson. The prophecy about Yerushalayim does not just foretell that it will be a center of world peace. Rather, just as Yerushalayim has been the center of the Torah of Israel, the Land of Israel, and the Nation of Israel, so will it be the international center for all those seeking Hashem. All the nations will see in Yerushalayim the place from which one draws spirituality. Many nations will seek their values of justice and morality specifically in Yerushalayim. It is possible that the promise of world peace is actually a reward for this perception by people around the world.
 It is interesting to note that for some time, Yerushalayim has been a major religious center for a very large segment of the world’s population. Until now, though, that fact has contributed to it being the focal point for quarrelling and bloodshed. We await the days when all will accept not only its centrality but its proper role as the site of the Beit Hamikdash and the Beit Din Hagadol and the place from which the Torah goes out to the world.
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This edition of  Hemdat Yamim
 is dedicated to the memory of
R’ Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld o.b.m.

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