It was Friday, shortly before sundown. In the heights of the Galilee, in the holy city of Safed, the students of the famous Kabbalist the Ari (Rabbi Isaac Luria) were preparing for Shabbat in one of the fields surrounding the city. In a moment of spiritual ecstasy, the tzadik turned to his students and said, "Let us go to Jerusalem and welcome Shabbat there."
The Ari invited his students to join him in an amazing spiritual escapade. To reach Jerusalem from Safed in only a few minutes! However, not all the students responded eagerly. They said, "First we need to go home and let our wives know that we will be away for Shabbat."
The tzadik heard them and said in pain, "It is a pity. Had you all agreed to go immediately, we could have merited to spend Shabbat in the rebuilt Jerusalem with Moshiach... we would have merited to see the fulfillment of the ultimate prophecy."
This story was told over 400 years ago, yet its message is still relevant to us today. In truth, what was wrong with the response of the students who hesitated? They were showing consideration to their wives. On the contrary, those who leapt at the chance to get away were demonstrating lack of good manners!
However, the simple answer is that their response was appropriate, except for the fact that the request came from a tzadik. He was their teacher, their spiritual master, and the students should have relied on him and taken the rare opportunity. Indeed, if not for their delay in carrying out his word, the Geulah could have come--and there is no doubt that in that case, the wives would have been most happy and proud of their spouses. The outcome wasn't worth the price.
This week we will mark 43 years since the liberation of Jerusalem in 1967. The holy city that binds our Jewish past with our long-anticipated future, as predicted by our sages.
Today Jerusalem is united under Jewish rule, but not completely. There is one important area which used to be under our rule, but with our own hands we declined the privilege. We refer, of course, to the Temple Mount. No one in the world could have imagined that after the outstanding Jewish victory in the Six-Day War, we would compromise on something so integral to the holiness of the Jewish people. The world was shocked at our victory and shocked at how quick we were to divest ourselves of its well-earned prize.
In our days we have been assured that that was the last compromise. The rest of Israel would remain under Israeli rule forever. But there was one person who distrusted those declarations--the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He cried from the depths of his heart about the need to stand strong against the enemy and against world pressure. He prophesied that the compromise over the Temple Mount would be the first in a long chain of withdrawals and disengagements, each of which left the Jewish people weakened and which exacted a high toll in Jewish blood.
Then, over 40 years ago, the Rebbe's was a lone voice in the wilderness. No one else could even imagine that the unity of Jerusalem would ever be up for negotiation. It sounded as bizarre as the idea of traveling from Safed to Jerusalem in just a few minutes... but the years that have passed since then have unfortunately only validated the Rebbe's prediction.
At least now we know the consequences of disregarding the words of a tzadik. We have witnessed time and again the Rebbe's amazing insight and prescience. Now, at least, we must resolve firmly that Never Again! Never again will we compromise on Jerusalem or on any other area in Israel that belongs to us. Our lives depend on this--quite literally.
There is no doubt that a resolution like this will hasten the fulfillment of the Rebbe's central prophecy, that very soon we will merit to see Jerusalem rebuilt and the Temple Mount restored to us--by G-d Himself--with the true and complete Redemption.