based on a sicha by
Harav Aharon Lichtenstein
The Gemara (Bava Kama 82b) lists ten rituals which were not performed in Jerusalem, including the "egla arufa" (decapitated heifer), declaration of an "ir ha-nidachat" (idolatrous city), etc. The reason for this unique status was that Jerusalem, unlike all other portions of Eretz Yisrael, was not given to any of the tribes.
The most obvious reason for this state of affairs was in order to avoid jealousy among the tribes - to prevent them from arguing over the privilege of having Jerusalem in their portion (like the stones which, according to the Midrash, fought for the honor of having Yaakov lay his head upon them to rest). However, it would seem that if this had been the only problem, then a different solution could have been found - for instance, by giving each tribe a small portion of Jerusalem. Hence, it appears that a deeper reason is involved, rather than the merely pragmatic wish to avoid conflict.
We may say that the law defining Jerusalem's special status is comprised of three separate components:
1. The Gemara (Yoma 12a) teaches that houses may not be rented out in Jerusalem because "it (Jerusalem) is not theirs." In other words, the halakha that Jerusalem was not divided among the tribes means, in practical terms, that Jerusalem does not belong to us. Jerusalem is not the private property or personal acquisition of any person in Israel.
Exodus 23:20-23; 24:9,10...(KJV).
2. By virtue of the fact that Jerusalem was not divided among the tribes, it is the city of Klal Yisrael - it is given to all the tribes collectively. When the Torah describes the tribes - in the blessings bestowed by both Yaakov and Moshe - it emphasizes the special character of each tribe. The idea of the uniqueness of each tribe also finds expression in the stones of the breastplate, with each of the twelve different stones representing a separate tribe. The fact that Jerusalem was not given to any one specific tribe lends it a dimension of completeness and unity. The unity of Jerusalem is a result not of a negation and nullification of differences but rather of a complex combination of the different tribes. In the closing verses of Sefer Yechezkel the gates surrounding Jerusalem are named - one for each tribe.
12 Tribes X 12 Signs X 1,000 (the number 10 X 10 X10 -- the Cube of the mystery of the Tree of Life) = 144,000...(Revelation, chapter 7; Revelation 21:10-27...KJV).
All of the tribes together contribute to the make-up of the city and together create her completion. Sefer Yechezkel concludes with the words, "And the name of the city from that day [shall be], 'God is there.'" Rashi explains that this refers to the ancient name dating from the days of Malkhitzedek: Shalem (Hebrews 5:10-14; 7:1-28). This name expresses the wholeness and perfection of the city which stems from its not having been divided among the tribes.
3. Yoma (ibid.) also teaches that Jerusalem can never have the status of an "ir nidachat" because the Torah, in teaching this law, uses the word "arekha" (your cities) - and Jerusalem is not included in this collective term since it was not given to any of the tribes. Although Jerusalem belongs to Klal Yisrael, it is nevertheless not altogether and completely theirs: it has a special status and is not part of "arekha" - the collection of cities. Jerusalem is God's city, the dwelling place of the Shekhina: "This is My resting place for ever and ever."
But unto to the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put His Name there, even unto His habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come...(Deuteronomy 12:5).
(Y = 10, H = 5, V = 6, H = 5 again)
(The number Five symbolizes the Power of God's Strong Right Arm).
Read The Mystical Shape of the Godhead, by Gershom Scholem.
We are used to the everyday reality of Jerusalem as a national capital, a cultural center, a city reflecting the political reality - in short, a city which belongs to us. Nevertheless, we need to examine closely the halakha which teaches that Jerusalem was not divided among the tribes, and no matter how much it may seem to be in our possession, we need to perceive it as God's city.
The three characteristics described above convey a three-fold message:
a. The fact that Jerusalem belongs to no individual issues to us a call to elevate ourselves above the egoism symbolized by private acquisitiveness. We need to rise above the prevailing idea that "What is mine, is mine; and what is yours, is yours" - which, as we remember, is termed in Avot as "the philosophy of Sodom." Thus, one aspect of Jerusalem is elevation above considerations of promoting our own personal interests - both material and spiritual.
b. We need to rise above tribal differences, sectarianism. Lest any particular group wish to claim exclusive rights to Jerusalem, we need to declare in response: Jerusalem was not given to any of the tribes. We need to rise above spiritual imperialism which comes to impose one model only. Each stone of the breastplate emphasizes a different aspect, a different tribe, and only a breastplate with all twelve stones in place is fit for use. All twelve gates surrounding the city collectively provide a fortified wall - a complete city!
c. It is true that the royalty - the government - is located in Jerusalem; Jerusalem is the heart of the nation. (Psalm 48). But at the same time, Jerusalem was not given over completely to mortal rule. We live in the earthly Jerusalem (Yerushalayim shel mata), but we need to remember that this physical city faces the parallel heavenly Jerusalem (Yerushalayim shel ma'ala). We need to rise above the human and national plane and reach for the plane of Divine service; we must attempt to recognize the Divine Presence in the city.
To our sorrow, today we are far from receiving the messages which Jerusalem transmits. It is true that even the most distant Jew feels something in his heart at the mere mention of the name "Jerusalem," but this is not sufficient. The feeling of unity and completeness, of elevation above egoism driven by a value system based on kindness and uprightness, is lacking in the public consciousness. In such a reality, we - the occupants of the Beit Midrash, who are capable of absorbing these messages and realizing them - are obligated to rise above egoism, sectarianism and divisiveness, and to attain a level of sanctity, thereby spreading the message of Jerusalem further afield.
The Holy One, Blessed be He, will return in mercy to Jerusalem when we return to Jerusalem in our hearts and souls.
(Translated by Kaeren Fish.
This sicha was originally delivered on Yom Yerushalayim 5750.)
Yeshivat Har Etzion
Alon Shvut, Israel, 90433
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever...(1 Timothy 1:17).
BELIEF IN GOD
By Imam al-Ghazali
The Jerusalem Treatise
Excerpt from the The Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya' 'ulum al-din)
(Just as the Mysteries of Jerusalem were hidden from the eyes of Judaism, so are the meanings of God's Oneness hidden from the eyes of Islam...Islam knows that God is One--for this is God's revelation to Islam. It is obvious, however, by reading into the present state of world affairs, that the most orthodox of Islamic believers are not yet fully aware of the multiple ways in which this Oneness is manifested everywhere else in the world).
He is one in being without partner, unique without peer, ultimate without opposite, alone without equal. He is one, preeternal, beginninglessly uncreate, everlastingly abiding, unceasingly existent, eternally limitless, the ever self-subsisting through whom all else subsists, ever enduring, without end. He is, was, and ever will be possessed of all attributes of majesty, unannihilated by dissolution or separation through the passage of eons or terminus of interims. He is the First and Last, the Outward and Inward, and He has knowledge of everything...
The Creator (Ain Sof) is ONE-ABOVE. His mirror image in the phenomenal world (E =mc2) is another. Together They are ONE. They have brought forth in the earth generations of sons and daughters. All together they are ONE. (Brahman is Atman. I and my Father are One).
His (Their) Transcendence
He is not a body with a form, or a luminary, quantitative substance, not resembling bodies in quantifiability or divisibility, or in being a substance or qualified by substance, or being an accident or qualified by accidents. He does not resemble anything that exists, nor anything that exists resemble Him. There is nothing whatsoever like unto Him, nor is He like unto anything. He is not delimited by magnitude, contained by places, encompassed by directions, or bounded by heavens or earth. He is 'ascendant over the Throne' (mustawin, Koran 20:5) in the way He says and the meaning He intends, 'ascendant' in a manner transcending contact, settledness, position, indwelling, or movement. The Throne does not bear Him up, but is borne up by the subtlety of His infinite power, as are the angels who carry it, and all are powerless in His grasp. He is above the Throne, the heavens, and all else to the farthest reaches of the stars, with an aboveness that does not increase His nearness to the Throne or the heavens, or His distance from the earth and what lies beneath it. He is as exalted in degree above the Throne and the heavens as He is above the earth and its depths, though He is near to everything in existence, nearer to a servant than his own jugular vein, and is witness to everything.
The Infinite Creator, the Indescribable Mind beyond the Mind of the Universe itself (beyond the lower world of the Ten Sefirot) is all that Imam al-Ghazali says He is. But Imam al-Ghazali cannot describe Him. He defies and transcends such descriptions. Pinpoint God and God will appear in another place. As Light appears as both waves and particles, so God dwells in the realm of Paradox. He is here and there. He is nowhere and everywhere. Nor is He a He. He is beyond gender (but perhaps He is a He; we will never know). Nevertheless, inside of this universe (on this side of Genesis 1:1), They have form and quantitative substance. Inside of this universe everything is a part of Them (They are ONE). Inside of this universe They are like everything, and everything is likened to Them. They are in everything. They are all that exists, and everything else is a shimmering extension of Their own Invisible Presence. They dwell in the space of Nothingness that separates this fourth-dimensional world from the parallel world that exists side-by-side and beyond our own (-) (+) (-) (+) (-) (+) (-). Only the Christ-conscious mind can grasp it.
(So al-Gahzali is both right and wrong, and both perfect and imperfect in his own perceptions, when he says): His nearness no more resembles the nearness of objects to one another than His entity resembles the entities of objects. He does not indwell in anything, nor anything indwell in Him. He is as exalted above containment in space as He is above confinement in time. He was, before creating time and space, and is now even as He was. He is distinguished from His creation by His attributes. There is nothing in His entity other than Him, nor is His entity in what is other than Him. He is beyond change and motion: events neither occur within Him nor changes befall Him. He remains in His attributes of majesty exalted above change, and in the attributes of His perfection beyond needing any increase in perfection. The existence of His entity is known by human reason, and in the afterlife is beheld by the eyesight of the righteous as a beatitude and favor, to consummate their perfect joy with the sight of His Noble Countenance.
His Life and Almighty Power
He Most High is living, almighty, overmastering, triumphant, unaffected by inability or weakness; unsusceptible to drowsiness, sleep, annihilation, or death; possessed of absolute sovereignty and might, of irresistible power and force. His is the majesty and sway, the creation and command. The heavens are enfolded in His right hand and all beings are powerless in His grasp. He alone creates, begins, gives existence, and originates. He creates all beings and their acts, ordains their sustenance and terms. Nothing possible is out of His grasp, the disposal of no matter is beyond His power. The number of things He can do is limitless, the amount He knows is infinite.
He knows all things knowable, encompassing all that takes place from the depths of the earth to the highest heaven. He knows without an atom's weight in the earth or heavens escaping His knowledge. He knows the creeping of a black ant across a great stone on a lightless night, and the motion in the air of a particle of dust on a windy day. He knows the concealed and the yet more hidden, the buried recesses of hearts, the movement of thought, and the opacities of the inmost soul; with preeternal, beginningless knowledge that He has always possessed from the limitless reaches of past eternity, not with awareness originating within Him through being imparted or conveyed.
He Most High wills all that exists and directs all events. Nothing occurs in the physical or spiritual world, be it meager or much, little or great, good or evil, of benefit or detriment, faith or unbelief, knowledge or ignorance, triumph or ruin, increase or decrease, obedience or sin; save through His ordinance, apportionment, wisdom, and decision. What He wills is, and what He does not will is not. Neither sidelong glance nor passing thought is beyond His design. He originates all and returns it, does what He wills, and none can repulse His command. There is no rescinding His destiny, no flight for a servant from disobeying Him except through divinely given success therein and mercy, and no strength to obey Him save through His choice and decree. If all mankind, jinn, angels, and devils combined their efforts to move or to still a single particle of the universe without His will and choice, they would be unable to. His will, like His other attributes, exists in His entity and He ever possesses it. He has willed from preeternity the existence of all things at the times He has chosen. They occur at the times which He has destined from beginingless eternity, occurring neither before nor after, but taking place in accordance with His knowledge and will, without substitution or alteration. He directs events without successive thoughts or waiting for time to elapse, which is why nothing diverts Him from anything else.
His Hearing and Sight
He Most High is all-hearing and all-seeing. He hears and sees, no sound however slight eluding His hearing, and no sight however minute escaping His vision. Distance does not obscure His hearing nor darkness hinder His vision. He sees without pupil or eyelids, and hears without ear canal or ears, just as He knows without a heart, seizes without limb, and creates without implement. His attributes no more resemble the attributes of His creatures than His entity resembles the entity of His creatures.
He Most High speaks, commands, forbids, promises, and warns with beginninglessly eternal speech that is an attribute of His entity, not resembling the speech of creatures in being a sound generated by the passage of air or impact of bodies nor in letters articulated by compressing the lips or moving the tongue. The Koran, Torah, Evangel, and Psalms are His Books, revealed to His messengers (upon whom be peace). The Koran is recited with tongues, written in books, and memorized in hearts despite being beginninglessly eternal, an attribute of the entity of Allah Most High, unsubject to disseverance and separation by conveyance to hearts or pages. Moses (Allah bless him and give him peace) heard the speech of Allah without sound or letter, just as the righteous see the entity of Allah Most High in the afterlife without substance or accident.
Since Allah possesses all of the above attributes, He is living, knowing, omnipotent, willing, hearing, seeing, and speaking by virtue of His life, power, knowledge, will, hearing, sight, and speech, not merely by virtue of His entity.
Everything besides Him Glorious and Exalted exists through His action, proceeding from His justice in the best, fullest, most perfect and equitable way. He is wise in His acts and just in His decrees. His justice is not comparable to the justice of His servants, since injustice may only be imagined from a servant through his disposal of what belongs to another, while this is inconceivable from Allah Most High, since nothing belongs to anyone besides Him that He should unjustly dispose of it.
Everything besides Him, be it human, jinn, angel, devil, heaven, earth, animal, vegetable, mineral, substance, accident, intelligible, or sensory, is contingent, and was brought into existence through His power after not being, created by Him after it was nothing. He alone existed in preeternity, and nothing else. He then originated creation, that His omnipotence might be manifest, His prior decree effected and His eternal word realized; not from needing or requiring anything in creation. Our origination, beginning, and responsibility are of Allah's generosity, not because of their being obligatory for Him, and His blessings and benefaction exist because of His favor, not because of being due from Him. Everything that exists is indebted to Him for His generosity and goodness, His blessings and benevolence; for He is well able to pour all manner of torments upon His servants and try them with every variety of suffering and illness, and were He to do so, it would be just on His part and not wicked or unfair. He Mighty and Majestic rewards His servants, the believers, for their acts of obedience because of His generosity and in fulfillment of His word, not because of their deserving it or His owing it to them. He is not obliged to anyone to do anything, nor is injustice on His part conceivable, for He does not owe any rights to anyone. The obligation of men and jinn to perform acts of obedience is established by His having informed them of it upon the tongues of the prophets (upon whom be peace), and not by unaided human reason. He sent the prophets and manifested the truth of their messages by unmistakable, inimitable miracles. They have communicated His commands, prohibitions, promises, and warnings, and it is obligatory for mankind and jinn to believe in what they have conveyed.
Thus al-Gahzali, as correct as he is, perceives God as the austere principle of Creation alone, untouched by our infirmities, unmoved by His own devices, unresponsive to the human condition. Such perceptions are a judgment on Islam itself. For in Christ do we perceive the Fulness of the Godhead bodily...(Ephesians 1:17-23; Colossians 1:12-20; 2:6-19...KJV).
THE NEW JERUSALEM
[The following excerpt is taken from Making Today Count for Eternity by Kent Crockett, Multnomah Publishers, 2001, pages
After the new earth is created, the new Jerusalem will be transferred from heaven to earth. "And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God..." (Rev. 21:2). The new Jerusalem, the capital of the new earth, is described as a cube of fifteen hundred miles long, wide and high, or about half the area of the United States. Because the city is fifteen hundred miles high, some people believe it will be structured in stories, one layer upon another. The heavenly city is called by several names:
The new Jerusalem (Rev. 3:12, 21:2)
The holy city (Rev. 21:2, 22:19)
The Jerusalem above (Gal. 4:26)
The city whose architect and builder is God (Heb. 11:10)
The city which God has prepared (Heb. 11:16)
The heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22)
The city of the living God (Heb. 12:22)
The city which is to come (Heb. 13:14)
My Fathers house (John 14:1-3)
Thousands of years ago, Abraham "was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Heb. 11:10). The writer of Hebrews exhorts us, "For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come" (Heb. 13:14). God has prepared this heavenly city for all who love him. "But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them" (Heb. 11:16). Jesus said in his Fathers house are many dwelling places, which he has prepared for his followers (John 14:1-3).
Lets take a walk around the city, shall we? The new Jerusalem is surrounded by a wall with twelve gates, with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel written on each gate. Revelation 21:21 tells us that each gate is a single pearl. (Matthew 13:45,46).
Notice the wall has twelve foundation stones, and on each stone are the names of the twelve apostles. The Old Testament age is represented by names of the twelve tribes on the gates, while the New Testament era is represented by names of the twelve apostles on the foundation stones. Both Old and New Testament believers will dwell in the heavenly city.
Brilliant light radiates out from the new Jerusalem because the glory of God is its light source. The glow of the city illuminates the entire planet. "And the city has no need of the sun (Christianity) or of the moon (Judaism) to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. And the nations shall walk by its light..." (Rev. 21:23-24).
The details about eternity are hazy at best, but let me tell you what I believe will occur. The redeemed people from all periods of history will be the citizens of the new earth. Although all of us will have a dwelling place in the new Jerusalem, we will have responsibilities on the new earth outside the city. Evidently, lots of traffic will go in and out of the city, to and from the new earth. I believe that people will have assignments in different areas of the new earth, which will be divided into nations.
There will not only be nations on the new earth, but also kings. "The kings of the earth will bring their glory into it" (Rev. 21:24). Who are these kings who enter into the city? Lets speculate a little further. Kings are the highest authorities in countries, so these kings probably hold the highest positions in the nations on the new earth. No doubt they represent the most faithful servants of the Lord from this present earth. Jesus said, "He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations" (Rev. 2:26).
In this future kingdom of God, some people will be selected to rule in these high positions as kings. Didnt Jesus say that those who humble themselves will be exalted (Luke 14:11)? Several times He told us the last will be first, and that servants and slaves will be great in His kingdom. He also taught that if we are faithful with a few things, He will put us in charge of many things (Matt. 25:21).
Those who faithfully served God during their lives on earth will be promoted to rule over nations, while others will be given authority over cities. Remember the parable of the minas ("pounds" in KJV)? The faithful slaves were rewarded by being placed in authority over cities. After the master received a kingdom for himself, he put one slave in charge of ten cities and another in charge of five cities. Could it be that Jesus actually meant literal cities--not on this present earth, but on the new earth? Slaves in those days were never put in charge of cities, so its possible that he was referring to future responsibilities in the kingdom of God. Im not trying to form a doctrine base on so few facts, but I find it fascinating to speculate how all the pieces fit in this gigantic, eternal puzzle.
When we work all this information into a composite sketch, it might look something like this: God will set up a government composed of different ranks and positions. Nations will cover the earth, with kings in authority over each one. Jesus will be the "King of kings" and the "Lord of lords" throughout eternity (Rev. 19:16). Positions throughout the kingdom, from least to greatest, will be assigned according to how faithfully we lived on earth. Although we will have different duties and assignments, everyone in heaven will be totally fulfilled as we worship and serve King Jesus together.
And the leaves of the Tree were for the healing of the nations...(Revelation 22:1-10).
Proclaim further: This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the LORD will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem. Zechariah 1:17
The LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. Zechariah 2:12.
Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and Jerusalem.
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome Stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered against it. Zechariah 12:1-3.
For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the City.
Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
And His Feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the East, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the East and toward the West; and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the North, and half of it toward the South. Zechariah 14:2-4.
For God is my King of old, WORKING SALVATION IN THE MIDST OF THE EARTH.
Thou didst divide the Sea by thy Strength: thou didst break the heads of the Dragons in the waters.
THOU BREAKEST THE HEADS OF LEVIATHAN IN PIECES, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.
The Day is thine, the Night also is thine: thou hast prepared the Light and the Sun.
Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made Summer and Winter...(Psalm 78:12-17).
Thus saith the Lord God; THIS IS JERUSALEM: I HAVE SET IT IN THE MIDST OF THE NATIONS AND COUNTRIES THAT ARE ROUND ABOUT HER...Ezekiel 5:5
At that time they shall call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered into it, to honor the Name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more in the imagination of their evil heart. Jeremiah 3:17
You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come...
When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his Glory.
He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.
This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord.
For he hath looked down from the Height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord behold the earth:
To hear the groaning of the prisoner, to loose those who are appointed to death;
To declare the name of the Lord in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem...
Of old hast thou laid the Foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. Psalm 102:13,16-28
In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.
Many nations will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Micah 4:1-5
Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eyes look upon Zion!"
But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as sheaves into the floor.
Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion; for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass; and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth. Micah 4:11-13
And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations, and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled...
And there shall be signs in the Sun, and in the Moon, and in the Stars, and upon earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring.
Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a Cloud with power and great glory. Luke 21:24-26; Hebrews 12.