Breathtaking! Simply breathtaking! That’s the only way I can describe the newly rebuilt Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. This past Friday as sunset approached I headed down to the Old City as I usually do. Ordinarily I head straight for the Kotel and I can’t imagine a better place in the world to be for Friday night.
I left extra early this week because this was the first Shabbos the Hurva synagogue would be open since its rededication after lying in ruins for over 60 years. I arrived about five minutes before the start of Mincha and as expected, despite the massive seating capacity, there was standing room only. (Those that arrived a few minutes later weren’t lucky enough to find even that much as standing room quickly disappeared.)
As I entered (I first had to search around till I found where the main entrance actually was) my jaw simply dropped and I stood there in awe. What a magnificent achievement for the Jewish People and Israel. As incredible as the Synagogue is portrayed in photographs you may have seen, they simply don’t compare to reality. You must visit this place and see it with your own eyes!
Regarding this rededication Ha’aretz reporter Nir Hasson wrote:
If the 18th-century rabbinic authority the Vilna Gaon was right, on March 16, 2010, construction will begin on the third Temple. His projection states that the auspicious day will coincide with the third completion of the Hurva Synagogue in Jerusalem's Jewish Quarter.
Of course Mr. Hasson got it wrong. Or rather he misstated the tradition. (Whether he did it out of malevolence for religious Jews or sheer incompetence depends on your opinion of that paper.) What the Vilna Gaon actually said, according to my research, was that the Hurva “will be built and destroyed twice, and the third time it is built it will be a sign of the coming of Moshiach.” The Hurva was first built in the early 1700’s and first destroyed in 1721. It was built the second time in 1864 and stood till 1948 when it was destroyed by the Arab Legion in War of Independence. Last week its glorious doors opened for the third time.
It is an important lesson for the Jewish people. In our Homeland, when our places of worship get destroyed, we will rebuild them. It is a obvious message with profound implications. Its symbolic significance is even crystal clear to the greatest of enemies of the Jewish People.
The New York Times reported:
In Damascus, Khaled Meshal, the exiled leader of the Islamic militant group Hamas, said the synagogue’s dedication signified “the destruction of the Al Aksa Mosque and the building of the temple,” according to Agence France-Presse.
Yes, there is a place even more spectacular than the newly rebuilt Hurva synagogue. And so, as Mincha finished I found the exit to make some room for the latecomers.
I headed down to the Kotel.
Crossposted on Kumah.