Community Rabbi Corner, Nov. 15, 2019

Rabbi Elie Mischel
Suburban Torah
Livingston, NJ
Parashat Vayera

Take now your son… and go to the land of Moriah; bring him up there as an offering upon one of the mountains which I shall tell you.” (Bereishit 22:2)

The great Rabbi Chaim of Tzanz points out that God chose two mountains to play a significant role in Jewish history: Mount Sinai, where the Torah was given to the people of Israel, and Mount Moriah, where Abraham bound his son Isaac and upon which the Beit Temple was eventually built.  Both of these mountains were made holy, but it was specifically Mount Moriah, and not Mount Sinai, that was chosen to be the site of God’s Temple.  But why did God choose Mount Moriah?  One can certainly argue that Mount Sinai, where God revealed Himself to the people of Israel and gave them the Torah, is a more appropriate location for the Temple!
Rabbi Chaim answers this question with an extraordinary statement.  “A place where a Jew once stretched forth his neck to be slaughtered, as Isaac so willingly did at Mount Moriah, is holier in God’s eyes than a place where God’s presence was revealed to the world and where the holy Torah itself was given!”

We live in miraculous times, when Jews can once again walk the streets of Jerusalem and pray at the Western Wall, in a strong and vibrant State of Israel - blessings our great grandparents could only dream of! But we, the Jews of today, must always remember that the holy streets of Jerusalem, and Mount Moriah itself, were built upon the blood and sacrifice of Jews throughout the centuries who “stretched forth their necks” for the sake of Jerusalem.  The Jews who gave their lives defending the Temple from the Roman conquerors; the Jews who sacrificed everything to live in Jerusalem during the dangerous era of Muslim rule; the brave soldiers who fought desperately and gave their lives to retake the Old City in 1967; and the extraordinary soldiers of today’s IDF who continue to defend our holy city and our holy land.  It is in their merit that we may walk the streets of Jerusalem, and it is in their merit that we will one day soon see the rebuilding of God’s house, speedily in our days.