The New Meaning for the Words Yom Yerushalayim!

In Parshat Bechukotai we see that if B’nai Yisrael, sincerely repent, then God will forgive them and allow them to return to the Land of Israel.


We read in Vayikra 26:42: “I will then remember My covenant with Yaakov also My covenant with Yitzchak and also My covenant with Avraham, I will remember and I will remember the Land.”


We are familiar with these words from the Rosh HaShana prayer service where they are found in the Zichronot (Remembrance) portion of the Musaf prayer.


Even if we are not worthy of God’s forgiveness, we hope that in the merit of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov we will be forgiven.


The reason why it says “I will remember the Land” is because the Land of Israel has a level of holiness that does not permit sinners to remain there. When Israel repents and is worthy of redemption, they are able to return and the enemies of Israel will not be able to remain in the Land.


The Rav, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik proposed that the following verse from Tehilim (Psalms) 137:7 be added to the Zichronot section of Musaf for Rosh HaShana:

“Rememebr God for the offspring of Edom, Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim) for those who say Destroy! Destroy! to its very foundation.”


This pasuk comes from the “kina” (sad psalm) that begins with the words “Al Naharot Bavel” which many recite on weekdays before Birkat HaMazon (Grace After Meals). The psalm describes the sadness of the Jewish people when they were exiled from Jerusalem and curses the Edomites and Babylonians. The psalm reminds us to remember Jerusalem and asks God to remind the children of Edom of Yom Yerushalayim
(how they cheered on the Babylonians on the day that the Beit HaMikdash was destroyed).


Where did the Rav get the idea of adding extra verses to Musaf?


In Masechet Rosh HaShana 32b the Gemara states: “One may recite a verse of Malchuyot (Kingship), Zichronot (Remembrance) or Shofarot (Shofar) that deal with punishment of idolaters.” The example given for Zichronot was Psalm 137:7.


Since 1967, the words “Yom Yerushalayim” have taken on new meaning. Instead of the day of destruction of Jerusalem as we saw in Psalm 137:7, we now have a holiday with the same name which represents the day of Jerusalem’s reunification.


We have much to celebrate at this time of year. Just a few weeks ago was Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, where we celebrated the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and this week we are celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem!


May we all merit the opportunity to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim in the Modern State of Israel.