Build Jerusalem

The 10th of Tevet

Our teacher and leader, Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Hakohen Kook of blessed memory said that on the fast day of the 10th of Tevet, the day on which the siege of the walls of Jerusalem began, we must act to strengthen the walls of Jerusalem, and the building of the Land of Israel, both spiritually and physically.

The Building of Jerusalem in Our Times

It is the obligation of each and every one of us to protest the government’s negligence in the building of Jerusalem. There are many Jews who long for the opportunity to ascend to Jerusalem and live there, however, there is not enough new houses being built – neither in the eastern nor western parts of the city. It is estimated that Jerusalem is in need of 4,000 new houses a year to fulfill the demand of Jewish families who desire to live there. In actuality, over the last few years, less than 2,000 houses a year have been built. Consequently, housing prices are soaring, and many families can’t afford to even think about buying an apartment or house in Jerusalem.

Over the last twenty years, 300,000 Jerusalemites have been forced to leave the city of their birth, almost all due to the lack of housing. And what about all the other Jews who would like to live in Jerusalem if only the housing prices were reasonable?

If all the building plans for Jerusalem were immediately set in motion, nearly 6,000 apartments a year could be built, prices would begin to decline, and Jerusalem would grow and develop into a great and important capital city. “The city of the great King, the joy of the whole earth.”

If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem

In an act of sinful disregard, the government neglects its sacred obligation to build Jerusalem. At every wedding, we mention the eternal oath: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy” (Psalms 137:5-6). In truth, however, Jerusalem is forgotten.

Every morning upon awakening, the Prime Minister should be thinking about how to advance the building in Jerusalem. The Minister of Housing should be telephoning the Prime Minister twice a day to spur on construction in Jerusalem in compensation for the deficiencies of the past years. However, both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Housing, together with the rest of the Cabinet ministers, are inactive in building of Jerusalem. They have tongues to speak with, in tones of extreme importance, about every possible topic. They have hands with which they advance themselves and their close associates. But Jerusalem, they forget.

If their great-grandfather’s were told that, one day, their grandchildren would have the opportunity to build Jerusalem, they would have been overjoyed for the tremendous honor that befell them, their offspring being privileged to fulfill the dream of generations – to build Jerusalem. How embarrassed they would be to see their grandchildren dealing in petty, partisan politics while forgetting their true tasks.

For the Sake of Zion

Anyone who does not protest the government’s negligence of building Jerusalem cannot be considered as one who mourns her destruction. Anyone who sees the Prime Minister, the Minister of Housing, or any other members of the Cabinet and doesn’t speak up about the building of Jerusalem – nullifies the commandment of the prophet, as it says (Isaiah 62:1): “For the sake of Zion I will not hold my peace, and for the sake of Jerusalem, I will not be still, until her righteousness goes forth like radiance, and her salvation like a burning torch.”

If the members of the Cabinet, and he who stands at its helm, were imbued with faith and awareness of the national mission to build Jerusalem, the nations of the world would also honor them, and come to rejoice with us in its building, as it is written (Isaiah 62:2): “And the nations shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory.”

If we don’t demand the building of Jerusalem, what’s our fast all about? “I have set watchmen upon your walls, O Jerusalem, who shall never hold their peace, day or night: you that make mention of the Lord, take no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes, and till he makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” Even when we were in the Diaspora, we were always required to mention Jerusalem — until it was built. And now, when we have our own government, can we remain silent and idle when they are negligent about building Jerusalem?!