Remembering Jerusalem

Sweetening the Judgments on Jerusalem

By Dovid Leitner

Every Jewish person throughout the world should be shocked at the present situation: How is it possible that an Israeli government is prepared to negotiate on the ownership of our holy city, Jerusalem, the site of both of our Holy Temples in the past and our capital since King David established it more than 2500 years ago? They talk of partitioning it or perhaps even giving it all away, for the sake of "peace", and yet, however distressing the news is, the general public feels helpless in its ability to improve this precarious situation.

The fact, however, is that this is not so. Every single Jewish person that cares about the welfare of Jerusalem can personally help to change and improve this situation.

The Talmud tells us that anybody who answers "'Amen, yehei Shemei rabba umevorach le'olam uleolmei olmayoh,' ['May His great Name be blessed forever and to all eternity'': the main response in the Kaddish prayer] bechol kocho" (lit.: with all his power) will merit that all evil decrees that have been issued against him will be destroyed. (Shabbat 119) Rashi explains that the Talmud's expression "with all his power" means that he answers "Amen, yehei Shemei rabba" with his full concentration. This is not just for decrees upon an individual, but, as the Tosefot commentary on the Talmud page adds, even for evil decrees that may be issued against the entire community.

Thus we see that the power of answering "Amen, yehei Shemei rabba" properly will obliterate all these harsh decrees. This has been guaranteed by the Sages, as quoted in the above Talmud.

The question is asked that if the expression of "bechol kocho" means with total focus, why does the Talmud not simply state so clearly. The Ben Ish Chai points out that the phrase "bechol kocho" has a numerical value of eighty six, the same as the divine name Elo-him, representing forces of judgment. Thus, the power of concentrating on the words of "Amen, yehei Shemei rabba" has the power to annul any harsh judgments.

The work Parperot Letefila points out a remarkable fact: The acronym of the first six words of "yehei Shemei rabba umevorach le'olam uleolmei olmayoh' yields the letters of the Hebrew word for Jerusalem, "Yerushalayim". If we answer '"Amen, yehei Shemei rabba" and concentrate on the words we are saying, then we can all contribute in annulling any harsh decrees that may be drafted against Jerusalem. That has been guaranteed by the Sages.

But we must each do our part. Think of Jerusalem every day, as its future depends on each one of us. "If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand forget [its dexterity]" (Psalms 137:5).


Rabbi David Moses Leitner is a graduate of Manchester and Ponevez Yeshivas and holds a BSc degree in Maths and Physics. He lives in Manchester, England, where he teaches both Jewish and secular subjects.



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