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Our Attachment to Jerusalem

Yom Haatzmaut 5771


May 6, 2011
Rabbi Steven Moskowitz
GENERAL MUSICAL THEMES
WHEN IN JERUSALEM NOTES OF JOY
WHEN OUTSIDE OF JERUSALEM NOTES OF SADNESS
1. INTRODUCTION
Millenia ago Jews observed their holidays not by going to their local
synagogues, but by going to the Temple in Jerusalem. They observed these
days not by praying but by offering sacrifices. On Yom Kippur in particular
they did not fast but attended to the rite of the High Priest. Our High
Holidays Mahzor contains remnants of this ancient ritual. But even these
prayers seem foreign and ill suited for a time when we celebrate a sovereign
Jewish state. Why pine after what was lost in age when we can celebrate
what we have gained?
To mark this years celebration of Yom Haatzmaut I have rewritten our
ancient prayers. I have sought to translate the feelings of the authors of
these prayers into contemporary language and music. Before I begin I want
to thank Natalie Tenenbaum for her extraordinary efforts in setting to music
my words and for composing and arranging this original musical piece. I
want to thank as well our clarinetist, Vasko Dukovski, for adding the sounds
of his instrument to this musical piece. And of course a special thank you to
our exceptional cantor for her steadfast contributions to these creative
efforts and who will soon add her exquisite voice to this piece.
I pray that this new creative service, its words and its melodies, find their
way into your hearts. I hope you feel a measure of what our ancestors
sought to express in their traditional prayers. I hope that we recover not the
meaning of the ancient sacrifices but the tug of our beloved city of
Jerusalem, the place that was, and always will be, the center of our religious
life. This sermon in music and song is meant to be a journey. It tells the
story of our attachment to the city of Jerusalem. It tells the story of what
was lost and what was gained, of victory and defeat, of mourning and
exaltation. It is about the heavenly Jerusalem of our dreams and the earthly
Jerusalem of history.
Baruch shem kavod malchuto lolam va-ed.
These words always accompanied the people as they made pilgrimage to
Jerusalem. It was only there, at the ancient Temple, that we then celebrated
our religious life. It was there that the priests performed the sacrifices and
asked for forgiveness on our behalf. We brought in our arms animals to be
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sacrificed and grains to be offered. We also always carried in our hearts the
word Baruch.
Baruch shem kavod malchuto lolam va-ed.
With these words the people would respond to the grandeur and
awesomeness of the Temple rituals.
MUSICAL INTRODUCTIONBRIEF
3,000 years ago King Solomon completed the building of the first Temple in
Jerusalem. The son completed what the father was unable to do. David was
not allowed to sanctify the city he conquered. Solomon marked the
dedication ceremony with a remarkable prayer.
Will God really dwell on earth?
Even the heavens to their uttermost reaches cannot contain You,
how much less so this House that I have built!
Yet turn, O Lord my God, to the prayer and supplication of Your servant,
and hear the cry and prayer which Your servant offers before You this day.
May Your eyes be open day and night toward this House,
toward the place of which You have said, My name shall abide there;
may You heed the prayers which Your servant will offer toward this place.
And when You hear the supplications which Your servant and Your people
Israel
offer toward this place,
give heed in Your heavenly abodegive heed and pardon.
UPBEAT TONE
MUSIC PLAYS UNDERNEATH
When Solomon finished offering to the Lord
all this prayer and supplication,
he rose from where he had been kneeling,
in front of the altar of the Lord,
his hands spread out toward heaven.
He stood, and in a loud voice blessed the whole congregation of Israel:
Baruch Adonai asher natan mnuchah lamo Yisrael
Blessed be the Lord who has granted a haven to the people Israel (I
Kings 8)
MUSICAL INTERPRETATION (long)
2. FIRST EXILE
Centuries later in 586 BCE the Babylonians exiled us from our land. We were
unable to touch the stones of our holy city and its Temple. Always we held
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on to the words that bound us to the rituals of Beit HaMikdash, the Holy
Temple. We would not let go. We could not let go.
MUSIC PLAYS UNDERNEATH READING OF PSALM
The Psalmist laments:
By the rivers of Babylon
there we sat,
sat and wept
as we thought of Zion.
There on the poplars
we hung up our harps and lyres
for our captors asked us there for songs,
our tormentors ask for amusement:
Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
How can we sing a song of the Lord
on alien soil?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither,
let my tongue stick to my palate
if I cease to think of you,
if I do not keep Jerusalem in memory
even at my happiest hour. (Psalm 137)
This was the first of many laments.
CLARINET JOINS THE PIANOCLARINET TAKES UP THE LAMENT OF PSALM
MUSIC PAUSES
Soon after we returned. We rebuilt our Temple. Ezra spoke to those who
returned:
Baruch Adonai Elohei Avoteinu
Blessed is the Lord God of our fathers,
who put it into the mind of the king
to glorify the House of the Lord in Jerusalem (Ezra 7)
Now, for a short while, there has been a reprieve from the Lord our God,
who has granted us a surviving remnant and given us a stake in His holy
place;
our God has restored the luster to our eyes
and furnished us with a little sustenance in our bondage.
For bondsmen we are, though even in our bondage God has not forsaken us,
but has disposed the king of Persia favorably toward us,
to furnish us with sustenance and to raise again the House of our God,
repairing its ruins and giving us a hold in Judah and Jerusalem. (Ezra 9)
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MUSICAL INTERPRETATION (short)


BRIEF UPBEAT TONE
It was then that Ezra instituted the public reading of the Torah scroll, a ritual
of course we continue to perform. It was also then that the rituals of the
High Priest reached the fullness that history later records. It was on Yom
Kippur alone that the priest would enter into the kodesh kodashim, the Holy
of Holies and recite Gods name. First he would cleanse himself. Second he
would ask forgiveness for himself and his family. Then he would beg
forgiveness for the people. Finally, in the culminating act of the day, he
would enter the Holy of Holies. This was accompanied by great trepidation
among the people. The priest would pronounce what has long since been
lost, the ineffable name of Y-H-V-H.
The people would respond as one:
Baruch shem kavod malchuto lolam va-ed.
MUSIC PLAYS UNDERNEATH
Our High Holiday Mahzor relates:
Now the High Priest having confessed for himself and his family,
and for all the priests,
confesses a third time,
for the whole House of Israel.
Eternal God, pardon the sins, iniquities and transgressions
that we, Your people, the House of Israel, have committed before You;
as it has been said,
On this day atonement shall be made for you,
to purify you;
you shall be cleansed from all your sins before your God.
When the priests and the people who stood in the Temple court
heard the High Priest, full of reverence,
utter Gods holy and awesome Name,
they fell upon their faces and, prostrate, exclaimed:
Baruch shem kavod malchuto lolam va-ed.
MUSICAL INTERPRETATION (short)
3. SECOND EXILE
But then in the first century CE, our Temple was forever destroyed and we
were exiled for thousands of years.

And always with baruch on our lips, we affirmed our faith while crying for
Jerusalem. We remembered Jerusalem in our synagogues, at our tables, at
our weddings and festivals.
Throughout the generations we continued to say:
Baruch shem kavod malchuto lolam va-ed.
Our prayerbook reads:
Matai timloch btzion
When, O Lord, will Your rule be established in Zion? May it be soon, in our
day, and for all time. May You be magnified and sanctified in Jerusalem, Your
city, for all generations.
Yimloch Adonai lolam. Elohai-ich tzion ldor va-dor. Halleluyah.
The Lord shall reign forever; Your God, O Zion, through all generations;
Halleluyah.
We could not let go of the past. We would not let go of Jerusalem.
We daily remember the firepans and the sacrifices of old. We daily recall the
centrality of Jerusalems Holy Temple.
After we sit down for a meal, we pray:
Uvnei Yerushalayim ir hakodesh bimheira vyameinu
Rebuild Jerusalem as the sacred capitalquickly, in our age.
Baruch Ata Adonai bonei brachamav Yerushalayim. Amen.
Blessed are You, Adonai, who in Your mercy rebuilds Jerusalem. Amen.
At the conclusion of our seders we sing:
Lshanah haba-ah byerushalayim.
Next year in Jerusalem!
Even our personal mourning found parallel in the mourning for Jerusalems
loss.
Hamakom ynachem etchem btoch shaar aveiley tzion vyerushalayim.
May God comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jeruselm.
And at every wedding, we sing:
MUSIC PLAYS UNDERNEATH
Baruch Ata Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam
asher bara sason vsimcha, chatan vchallah
Adonai our God, may there always be heard
in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem
voices of joy and happiness,
voices of bride and groom,
the jubilant voices of those joined in marriage under the huppah,
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the voices of young people feasting and singing.


Blessed are You, Adonai, who causes the groom and the bride to rejoice
together.
Adonai Eloheinu yishama barei Yehudah uvchutzot Yerushalayim
kol sasson vkol simcha kol chatan vkol kallah.
Baruch Ata Adonai msamayach chatan im ha-kallah.
MUSICAL INTERPRETATION (long)
FULL THROATED LAMENT WITH CLARINET AND PIANO
WITH RIFF ON SHEVA BRACHOT
4. MEDIEVAL TIMES
In each generation we held on to the words that bound us to each other and
to this city.
Baruch.
Baruch shem kavod malchuto lolam va-ed.
In medieval times we dreamed of returning to our holy city. During these
days we produced volumes of literature. Many dreamed of Jerusalem. Few
touched it. Moses Maimonides wrote a fourteen volume code of Jewish law.
Yosef Caro soon followed and wrote the definitive Shulchan Aruch. We
continued to dream of Jerusalem. The city became less a reality and more a
matter of the heart. Very few touched its soil or glimpsed its stones.
Poets wrote of their love and longing for our holy city. There was Moshe ibn
Ezra, Shlomo ibn Gabriol and Shmuel HaNagid. Yehudah HaLevi was the
greatest poet of this age and it was he who forever defined Jewish poetry just
as Maimonides forever defined Jewish philosophy. It is said that HaLevi,
traveled from Spain to Jerusalem to fulfill his life-long dream of touching the
walls of the Old City.
Risking his life at sea he set he set out on a journey across the
Mediterranean to live in the land of Israel. Tossed about on the ship he wrote
of the wind and the sea:
SAD CHORDS OF PSALM 137
MUSIC PLAYS UNDERNEATH
This wind of yours, O West, is all perfume
it has the scent of spikenard and apple in its wings.
Let not your heart tremble in the heart of the sea,
when you see mountains trembling and heaving,
and sailors hands as limp as rags,
and soothsayers struck dumb.
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When they set their course,


they were full of joy,
but now they are beaten back in shame.
The whole ocean is yours to escape in,
but your only refuge is the snare of the deep.
The sails quiver and quake,
the beams creak and shudder.
The hand of the wind toys with the waves,
like reapers at the threshing:
now it flattens them out, now it stacks them up.
When the waves gather strength, they are like lions;
when they weaken, they are like snakes
The sea is the color of the skythey are two seas bound together.
And between these two, my heart is a third sea,
as the new waves of praise surge on high.
MUSIC PAUSES
According to legend he was killed by Crusaders as he reached out to touch
Jerusalems stones.
The poems are his true voice. The legend a fairytale. During these medieval
times the journey from Spain to Israel took months. Our hero actually never
left Alexandria and there died of typhoid on a quarantined ship. In truth one
wonders if he lingered there in Alexandria, bound by his new found love for a
slave girl.
He writes of love:
Gently, my hard-hearted, soft-hipped one,
deal gently with me and let me bow down before you.
It is only my eyes that were ravished by you;
my heart is pure, yes, but my eyes are not.
Oh, let my eyes pluck the roses and lilies
that were sown together in your face!
I rake the fire of your cheeks,
to put fire with fire:
and when I am thirsty, it is there that I look for water.
Yehudah HaLevi a love-sick man. A passionate man. Nonetheless it was he
who gave us the defining poem of the age and of longing for Jerusalem.
SOFT MUSICAL NOTES
MUSIC PLAYS UNDERNEATH
Lbi bmizrach vanochi bsof ma-arav.
My heart is in the East
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and I am at the edge of the West.


How can I possibly taste what I eat?
How could it please me?
How can I keep my promise
or ever fulfill my vow,
when Zion is held by Edom
and I am bound by Arabias chains?
Id gladly leave behind me
all the pleasure of Spain
If only I might see
the dust and ruins of Your shrine.
MUSICAL INTERPRETATION
SAD, LAMENTING NOTES
5. MODERN RETURN
But then in our own day the dream is realized. There are no more dangers of
sea travel. We can board a plane and in less than one day touch the soil of
eretz yisrael, the land and cities our forefathers only dreamed of. The place
is different than the dreams of our prayerbooks and poets. The earthly is
not all dreams, but the baruch of successive generations keeps it alive in our
hearts.
Lhiyot am chofshi bartzeinu.
To be a free people in our own land.
The poet of the modern age is Yehudah Amichai. He too writes about women
and love. He also writes poem after poem about the city in which he lives,
Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is a merry-go-round-and-round
From the Old City through all the neighborhoods and back to the Old.
And you cant get off. Whoever jumps off puts his life on the line
And whoever gets off at the final round has to pay again
To get back on for the rounds that have no end.
And instead of elephants and painted horses to ride,
There are religions that go up and down and turn on their axis
To the music of oily tunes from the houses of prayer.
Jerusalem is a seesaw; sometimes I dip down
Into past generations, sometimes I rise up to the skies and then
I shriek like a child, feet swinging on high:
I want down, Daddy, I want down,
Abba, get me down.
And thats how the saints all ascend to heaven,
Like a child screaming, Daddy, I want to stay up here.
Abba, dont get me down, Avinu Malkeinu,
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Leave us up here, Avinu Malkeinu.


MUSIC BEGINSTAKES ON CHORDS OF AVINU MALKEINU
PIANO PLAYS UNDERNEATH
And there are days here when everything is sails and more sails,
Even though theres no sea in Jerusalem, not even a river.
Everything is sails: the flags, the tallisim, the black coats,
The monks robes, the kaftans and kaffiyehs,
Young womens dresses and headdresses,
Torah mantles and prayer rugs, feelings that swell in the wind
And hopes that set them sailing in other directions.
Even my fathers hands, spread out in blessing
[Baruch shem kavod malchuto lolam va-ed.]
My mothers broad face and Ruths faraway death
Are sails, all of them sails in the splendid regatta
On the two seas of Jerusalem:
The sea of memory and the sea of forgetting.
Amicha writes poem after poem. How to reconcile the dreams with the
reality? How does the heavenly Jerusalem mingle with the earthly?
PAUSE READING
MUSIC CONTINUES
SIMILAR CHORDS TO PSALM 137 AND HALEVIS WESTERN WIND;
TRANSITIONS TO UPBEAT
MUSIC PLAYS UNDERNEATH
If I forget you, O Jerusalem
Then let my right be forgotten.
Let my right be forgotten, and my left remember.
Let my left remember, and your right close
And your mouth open near the gate.
I shall remember Jerusalem
And forget the forestmy love will remember,
Will open her gate, will close my window,
Will forget my right,
Will forget my left.
If the west wind does not come
Ill never forgive the walls,
Or the sea, or myself.
Should my right forget,
My left shall forgive,
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I shall forget all seas,


I shall forget my mother.
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
Let my blood be forgotten.
I shall touch your forehead,
Forget my own,
My voice changes
For the second and last time
To the most terrible of voices
Or silence.
SILENCENO MUSIC AND NO TALKING
In the Spring of 1967 Jerusalems mayor, Teddy Kollek, organized a song
competition. The theme was Jerusalem. Naomi Shemer submitted a song,
Jerusalem of Gold. The song won the competition at the Musical Festival
celebrating Israels nineteen years of statehood. Three weeks later, in the
early days of June, Israel won the Six Day War and captured Jerusalems Old
City from the Jordanians. The song immediately became the anthem for the
war. The image of crying soldiers standing at the Western Wall became part
of the Jewish peoples collective memory.
Shemer added a new concluding verse:
We have returned to the cisterns, to the market and to the square. A shofar
calls out on the Temple Mount in the Old City.
MUSIC BEGINS FIRSTTAKES UP YERUSHALAYIM SHEL ZAHAV
MUSIC PLAYS UNDERNEATH
The mountain air is clear as wine
and the fragrance of pine is carried in the evening breeze
with the sound of bells.
In the slumber of tree and stone,
captive within her dream, is the city which sits deserted,
and the wall at its heart.
How the cisterns have dried up!
The market square is empty.
No one attends the Temple Mount in the Old City.
And in the caves in the rock winds moan.
No one descends to the Dead Sea by way of Jericho.
But when I come today to sing unto you
and to bind crowns for you,
I become smaller than the youngest of your sons
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or the least of the poets.


For your name burns the lips like the kiss of a seraph
if I forget you, O Jerusalem, that is all of gold.
We have returned to the cisterns,
to the market and to the square.
A shofar calls out on the Temple Mount in the Old City.
And in the caves in the rock, thousands of suns shine.
We will once again descend to the Dead Sea by way of Jericho.
Yerushalayim shel zahav,
veshel nechoshet veshel or.
Halo lechol shirayich ani kinor.
Jerusalem of gold, of bronze, and of light,
am I not a harp and lyre for all your songs.
TALYA SINGS YERUSHALAYIM SHEL ZAHAV
MUSICAL INTERPRETATIONPIANO, CLARINET AND VOICE (long)
UPBEAT AND TRIUMPHANT; CELLO TURNS PRIOR LAMENT INTO SONG OF JOY
LET CLARINET GO!
MUSIC PAUSES
6. CONCLUSION
We have stood on Jerusalems walls. We have said with prior generations:
Baruch shem kavo malchuto lolam va-ed.
Our generation is the same, yet different. Our Jerusalem is happiness built
on ruins. Many still cry and lament for what was lost. They mourn for dreams
unrealized, prayers unfulfilled, for a Temple and its sacrifices still not
restored. I instead will only say a blessing for what has been gained. I will
no longer mourn. I will revel in the songs of thousands and thousands of
Jews. I will rejoice that we have returned to this city, the city of Jerusalem, a
city of heaven and earth. I will recall that today, in this unique and blessed
age, Jerusalem is no longer in ruins. There may very well be untold ruins
beneath the feet. But there is no ruin in the air. Jerusalem is happiness built
on ruins.
MUSIC PLAYS UNDERNEATH
From Solomon until now one unbroken chain.
Sometimes a cry.
Sometimes a song.
Always the word Baruch.
Always the people said as one:
Baruch shem kavod malchuto lolam va-ed.
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We say with our people:


Baruch shem kavod malchuto lolam va-ed.
We say today a blessing.
We are again a free people in our own land,
standing again in our city of Jerusalem.
MUSIC CONCLUDESCLARINET DANCES

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