It is written in chapter 12 of Zecharia:
1 The burden of the word of the LORD concerning Israel. The saying of the LORD, who stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth, and formed the spirit of man within him:
2 Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of staggering unto all the peoples round about, and upon Judah also shall it fall to be in the siege against Jerusalem.
3 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will make Jerusalem a stone of burden for all the peoples; all that burden themselves with it shall be sore wounded; and all the nations of the earth shall be gathered together against it.
and again in chapter 14:
1 Behold, a day of the LORD cometh, when thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.
2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, but the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fighteth in the day of battle.
4 And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleft in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, so that there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azel; yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah; and the LORD my God shall come, and all the holy ones with Thee.
UNESCO has finally gone ahead and used its majority Arab membership to rewrite history and erase the deep and unwavering connection between the Jewish nation and Jerusalem. While it states in the text, which can be read in full here, “Affirming the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions…” it clearly and unequicably only acknowledges Jerusalem’s Old City as having Palestinian heritage. Instead of viewing the Jewish return to Jerusalem and the national rectification of recieving back that which was stolen from it during theyears of forced Arab occupation as legitimate these regrown Jewish roots are seen through the veil of increased “occupation”.
Being a world body UNESCO has opened the first shot in the world’s war against Jerusalem as prophesized thousands of years ago. Israeli politicians, religous leaders, and acitvists have responded with anger and declarations. Afterall, nearly all Jews that have some sort of connection to the broader national belief set hold a bond that is unbreakable with Jerusalem. Despite the outcry, there is not much on a political level we can do. That in of itself may be the most painful aspect of all.
Rectifying Our Past, Reconnecting Our Future
As someone who considers himself a follower of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, I journeyed to Uman, Ukraine to be by Rebbe Nachman’s grave for Rosh Hoshanah. Rebbe Nachman made it clear that his followers should continue to visit him for Rosh Hoshonah even after his departure from this world. “There is nothing greater that my Rosh Hoshanah,” Rebbe Nachman stated to his followers.
Of all of Rebbe Nachman’s teachings, none is more powerful than his exhortation to spend at least an hour a day in personal solitude in direct conversation with the Almighty. While in Uman I spent most of my time like many others next to Rebbe Nachman’s grave, yet when I wanted to be alone I walked quite a ways from the central area of rebuilt Jewish Uman. Just prior to Rosh Hoshanah I reached a quiet spot overlooking a river flowing out of Uman. It was at this spot I chose to speak to G-d. My hour long session was so meaningful I decided to return near to the same spot the next day, yet chose a different route to get there.
As I approached the area I noticed the color of the earth changed to black beneath my feet and there were broken tombstones all around for as far as I could see. I felt a sense of deep anguish in the area and after my hour long seclusion I located the rebuilt graves of Rebbe Nachman’s grandson and one of his chief students Reb Naftali. Nearby I found a sign noting the area was a the burial place for 3000 Jews slaughtered by the Ukrainians in the pogroms of 1920.
Jewish blood flows throughout Uman. From the Chmielnicki massacre of 1648 that saw nearly 30,000 Jews killed in Uman with over 500,000 in the rest of the Ukraine to the pogroms of 1920 to the Nazi exterminations in WW2. Rebbe Nachman stated clearly his ability to rectify the souls of the dead and the torments of the souls lying in Uman were clearly far greater than other places. Yet, I believe Rebbe Nachman has another agenda (one of many) by asking us to return to Uman year in and year out.
In many ways we are the rectification. After he leaves, the Tzaddik (rightous one) has no physical presence in our world, yet he continues to have an impact due to the fullfillment of his lessons and advice by his followers who are called his legs. It is our praying, singing, and dancing in a place of such pain that rectifies the broken souls left in the area.
The Long-Short Path
In the Talmud, tractacte Eruvin it states that Rebbe Yehoshua ben Hanniyah was travelling and saw a child at a fork in the road. He asked the child which way was the best to the city. The child said that one path was a short-long path and the other was a long short-path.
Rebbe Yehoshua ben Hanniyah took the short long path and very quickly came to the outskirts of the city and found that it was surrounded by gardens and orchards. He returned to the child and and said: “My child you said this was the short path.” The child responded to him: “No I said it was the long path.” Rebbe Yehoshua ben Hanniyah then said the following: “I kissed him on his head and I said to him, happy is Israel that all of them are with from the big to the small.”
This passage has tremendous lessons for our time. We the Jewish nation returned in great haste to our ancient homeland. Miracle after miracle has guided us and yet we insist on playing by the rules of the nations of the world. We rushed back so fast we have gotten lost in gardens and orchards of world politics and forgotten the surest way of crossing the proverbial finish line of redemption. The Jewish people wanted to so much to be back in Jerusalem we set out on the short-long path and cannot truly enter our city in a way that feels lasting. We have been forced to return to the fork in the road and take the other path no matter how long it seems it may take.
For me this path is the path of Uman, which by way of complete and pure faith reminds us that we as a nation are above the normtive rules of time and space. We are forever. Our war is not against UNESCO. They are a pawn played by the Almighty in the march towards fullfiling the prophecies laid out thousands of years ago. Our war is with ourselves; with that part of us that forgot what it means to trust in the Almighty and develop an instrinsic faith in G-d as a real active part of our lives, both personal and national.
Rebbe Nachman said many times that a great flood of anti-faith would rage around the world and at the end our war would be about recovering our own faith. By bringing us back to the geographical point where we had such faith that we were willing to die for it, we the Jewish Nation are able to recapture that part of us which was lost along the way.
UNESCO has no power to change the truth. In fact, it is telling that the sons of Ishmael who are supposedly faithful to G-d rely on earthly political constructs to erase our history. If they have stooped that low, we have only to reach inside ourselves to rise past them. That is our task and of course let G-d do the rest.