Israel & Jerusalem

All Roads Lead to Jerusalem

by Rabbi Pinchas Kantrowitz
Jerusalem as the focal point of the Jewish People
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The Kotel

All Roads Lead to Jerusalem

"Hey, Joe, where ya headed ?"


"What? That's quite a ways from San Francisco, my friend! How ya gonna get there? Hitchhike?"

"Jake, don't you know Rebbe Nachman's famous saying "Wherever I go, I am going to Jerusalem"? O.K., my feet happen to be heading to the supermarket to get a loaf of bread, but in my heart I'm going to Jerusalem. Wanna come?"

What did Rebbe Nachman mean? Why did he say he was 'always be going toward Jerusalem?' Jerusalem throughout the ages has been the focal point of the Jewish people. When a Jew prays, he faces the Holy City. At a wedding, a glass is broken in remembrance of the destruction of Jerusalem and its Holy Temple. The Yom Kippur service ends with the empathic prayer: "Next Year in Jerusalem!" We proclaim at the Passover Seder "Next Year in Rebuilt Jerusalem!"

The Ramban (Nachmanides) in the year 1268 wrote: "The glory of the world is Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), the glory of Eretz Yisrael is Jerusalem, and the glory of Jerusalem is the Holy Temple."

This teaching echoes that of the Talmud: "Abba Issa said in the name of Samuel Hakatan: 'The world is like a human eyeball. The white of the eye is the ocean surrounding the world, the iris is this continent, the pupil is Jerusalem and the image in the pupil is the Holy Temple. The focal point of the Jewish people is Jerusalem, and the image they are focusing on is the Holy Temple. The Talmud teaches: "G-d swore that He would not enter Jerusalem above (the spiritual Jerusalem) until He enters Jerusalem down below (the physical Jerusalem). Jerusalem below is the gate to Jerusalem above; G-d's palace below is the gate to G-d's palace above. That is why wherever Rebbe Nachman would go, he was going toward Jerusalem, and why Joe was joining him. I think I'll join them as well. Wanna come?

(Based on 'Jerusalem: The Eye of the Universe' by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (zatzal) NCSY: UOJC 5-9)

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Written by Rabbi Pinchas Kantrovitz.
General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman.
Production Design: Lev Seltzer.

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