Rabbi Mischel is the Rabbi of the Synagogue of the Suburban Torah Center in Livingston, NJ.
“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 Rav Chaim of Tzanz, author of the Divrei Chaim, 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 Avraham bound his son Yitzchak, and upon which the Beit Hamikdash 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 house in this earth. 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 Beit Hamikdash!
Rav Chaim answers this question with an extraordinary statement. “A place where a Jew once stretched forth his neck to be slaughtered, as Yitzchak 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!” (Otzar HaMachshavah shel Hachassidus)
In only a few months from now, on Yom Yerushalayim, Jews all over the world will mark the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Yerushalayim, and the six miraculous days that changed the course of history. With God’s help, many of us will join the Mizrachi World Movement’s Yom Yerushalayim mission, where together with hundreds of thousands of our fellow Jews, we will march through the streets of the Holy City, our eyes and hearts directed always towards Mount Moriah and the Har HaBayit.
But we, the Jews of today, must always remember that the holy streets of Yerushalayim, 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 Yerushalayim. The Jews who gave their lives defending the Beit Hamikdash from the Roman conquerors; the Jews who sacrificed everything to live in Yerushalayim during the dangerous era of Muslim rule; and the brave soldiers who fought desperately, and gave their lives, to retake the Old City in 1967. It is in their merit that we celebrate today in a unified Yerushalayim, and it is in theirmerit that we will one day soon see the rebuilding of God’s house, speedily in our days.