Thursday, May 21, 2009

Yom Yerushalayim - HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Kook

Yom Yerushalayim - HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Kook

"It is impossible to forget that day," said HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Kook. "Well before it arrived, the situation in the city was tense. Many of the Yeshiva's students had enlisted in the fight. On the second day of the week, the twenty-sixth of Iyar, a student approached me on my way to the morning prayer at the Yeshiva. He told me that the war had begun, and that the Arab Legion was boasting that it would conquer all of Jerusalem. Rumors reached me about battles on the outskirts of the city. A friend phoned me and related in the name of HaRav Shlomo Goren, the Israel Defense Force's Chief Rabbi, that Tzahal units were advancing and getting closer to the Old City of Jerusalem. Nerve-trembling news. Each hour, expectation quickened.

One of the students who had enlisted raced back to the Yeshiva during an hour break and announced that tomorrow, with the Almighty's help, our paratroopers would reach the Kotel! All of us were filled with hope and trembling. On the fourth day of the week, an officer knocked on the door of my house. He had come with a message from HaRav Goren. 'The honored Rav is invited by the Chief Rabbi of the army to come to the Western Wall,' he announced. 'An armored car is waiting downstairs.'"

"HaRav David Cohen, the 'Nazir', zt"l, joined us on the way. He too had been invited by his son-in-law, HaRav Goren. The army car crept along amidst the multitudes thronging the streets of the city, thousands singing and dancing with tears of joy in their eyes over the liberation of Jerusalem."

"On the way, the officer told me that the moment the paratroopers reached the perimeter of the Kotel, an officer who was a student of our Yeshiva climbed to the top row of stones and unfurled the Israeli flag over the heights of the Western Wall. His commander promised him a reward for his deed, and asked him what he wanted. 'The greatest honor for me,' he answered, 'Is that you send an army rabbi to bring our teacher here, HaRav Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook, the Rosh Yeshiva of Mercaz HaRav.'"

"The officer also told us that among the first to reach the Kotel was HaRav Goren, in the face of fire from Arab snipers, who continued to shoot from their places of hiding. He clutched a Torah scroll in one hand, and a shofar in the other. Fighters, who had survived furious battles, cried like children when they heard the blast of the shofar by the Chief Rabbi. They cherished his courage of heart, and his self- sacrifice, to remain all the time at the head of the battle, with the paratroopers who burst through from the Mount of Olives to the Western Wall."

"Many of our boys were wounded in the charge. To my question, through which gate of the Old City had they reached the Kotel, the familiar voice of a soldier from our Yeshiva said, 'Thank G-D. All of the gates are open.' Another student, a rabbi in the army, rushed up to me at the Kotel and told me that he had received permission from army command to hold the 'Mincha' prayer at the Wall. It was the first national prayer at the Kotel after a nineteen-hundred year separation! A prayer which was utter cleavage to G-D. Every eye was
filled with tears. Soldiers prostrated themselves on the ground of the square. Others wedged their fingers between the stones of the Wall. Everyone chanted the Psalm, 'A Song of Ascent; When the L-RD brought back the exiles of Zion, we were like those who dream.'" "Before we left the liberated city, I was interviewed by radio and television reporters from Israel and from outside the Land. They wanted to know my opinion on what had transpired."

"'Behold,' I said. 'We announce to all of Israel, and to all of the world, that by a Divine command, we have returned to our home, to our holy city. From this day forth, we shall never budge from here! We have come home!'"

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