Thursday, December 01, 2005
WORDING OF THE JERUSALEM COVENANT
Whose Land ?
Covenant of Jerusalem - Key to 25th Anniversary
by Kaye Corbett
Jerusalem - The historic Covenant of Jerusalem was presented to the Israeli government on Wednesday, May 19, 1993. It marked the conclusion of a year of celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Holy City's reunification, which reaffirmed the indelible bond between the Jewish people and its eternal spiritual and cultural capital.
On May 31, 1992 a proclamation, under the signatures of Deputy Minister Avraham Verdiger, Mayor Teddy Kollek and Jewish Agency Chairman Simcha Dinitz, was sent to Jewish communities around the world, inviting them to share in this moment of history with Jerusalem.
Ministry Director-General Yeshayahu Barzel said the year-long celebration had three goals. First, to strengthen the feeling that the entire Jewish people stand united with Israel on the indivisibility of Jerusalem; second, to impart to all Jews - especially those in the former Soviet Union who have been cut off from world Jewry for four generations - a feeling of unity; and third, to remind the non-Jewish world that the entire Jewish people are unified on the emotional and religious significance Jerusalem has for Jews everywhere.
Although there has been considerable opposition from those who want Jerusalem to be an "international city," the covenant of Jerusalem was inspired by the covenant renewal ceremony convened by Ezra and Nehemiah for the Israelites who returned to their homeland from Babylon.
According to David A. Gross's article in Israel Magazine, the Covenant has seven paragraphs, as Jerusalem has seven gates from Ezra's day. Even today, there are seven open gates to the Old City: Jaffa Gate, New Gate, Damascus Gate, Herod's Gate, Lion's Gate, Dung Gate and Zion Gate.
There's a legend which says Jerusalem will have seven gates in the days to come and shine "from one end of the world to the other."
Prepared by Justice Menahem Elon, Deputy President of the Supreme Court Vice, and with input from a wide range of writers, historians and archaeologists, the Covenant, in the form of a scroll written on parchment, was signed by President Chaim Herzog on May 31, 1992.
Besides Herzog, the original scroll was also signed by a lengthy list of dignitaries and national leaders.
Two parchment scrolls of the Covenant were sent to authorities in Israel from Metulla in the north to Eilat in the south and there were signing ceremonies throughout the world, similar to the main signing ceremony in Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem Covenant
As of this day, Jerusalem Day, the twenty-eight day of the month of Iyar in the year five thousand seven hundred fifty-two; one thousand nine hundred and twenty-two years after the destruction of the Second Temple; forty-four years since the founding of the State of Israel; twenty-five years since the Six Day War during which the Israel Defense Forces,
in defense of our very existence, broke through the walls of the city and restored the Temple Mount and the unity of Jerusalem; twelve years since the Knesset of Israel reestablished the 'Jerusalem, unified and whole, is the Capital of Israel'; the State of Israel is the State of the 'Jewish People' and the Capital of Israel is the Capital of the People of Israel.
We have gathered together in Zion, national leaders and heads, of our communities everywhere, to enter into a covenant with Jersualem, as was done by the leaders of our nation and all the people of Israel upon Israel's return to its Land from the "Babylonian exile; and the people and their leaders will dwell in Jerusalem, the Holy City.
Once again, 'our feet stand within your gates, O Jerusalem - Jerusalem built as a city joined together' which 'unites the people of Israel to one another', and 'links heavenly Jerusalem with earthly Jerusalem.'
We have returned to the place that the Lord vowed to bestow upon the descendants of Abraham, Father of our Nation; to the City of David, King of Israel; where Solomon, son of David, built a Holy Temple; a Capital City which became the Mother of all Israel; a metropolis for justice and righteousness and for the wisdom and insights of the ancient world;
where a Second Temple was erected in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. In this city the prophets of the Lord prophesied; in the City the Sages taught Torah; in this City the Sanhedrin convened in session in its stone chamber.
'For there were the seats of Justice, the Throne of the House of David', 'for out of Zion shall go forth Torah, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.'
Today, as of old, we hold fast to the truth of the words of the Prophets of Israel, that all the inhabitants of the world shall enter within the gates of Jerusalem: 'And it shall come to pass at the end of days, the mountain of the House of the Lord will be well established at the peak of the mountains and will tower above the hills, and all the nation shall stream towards it.'
Each and every nation will live in it by its own faith: 'For all the nation will go forward, each with its own Divine Name; we shall go in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.' And in this spirit the Knesset of the State of Israel has enacted a law: The places holy to the peoples of all religions shall be protected from any desecration and from any restriction of free access to them.
Jerusalem - peace and tranquility shall reign in the city: 'Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may those who love you be tranquil. May there by peace within your walls, and tranquility within your palaces.' Out of Jerusalem, a message of peace went forth and shall yet go forth again to all the inhabitants of the earth:
'And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation will not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war any more.' Our sages, peace be upon them, said. In the future, The Holy One, the Blessed, will comfort Jerusalem only with peace.
From this place, we once again take this vow: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand lose its strength; may my tongue cleave to my palate if I do not remember you, if I do not raise up Jerusalem at the very height of my rejoicing.'
And with all these understandings, we enter into this Covenant and write: We shall bind you to us forever; we shall bind you to us with faithfulness, with righteousness and justice, with steadfast love and compassion.
We love you, O Jerusalem, with eternal love, with unbounded love, under siege and when liberated from the yoke of oppressors. We have been martyred for you; we have yearned for you, we have clung to you. Our faithfulness to you we shall bequeath to our children after us. Forevermore our home shall be within you.