When we come to speak about Yerushalayim, we encounter a slight problem. Whenever we want to find out about a certain term, we look at the first place it appears in the Torah, and that is where we will be able to find the most accurate definition. But the surprising thing with Yerushalayim is that it doesn’t appear in the Torah, at all. How can this be? The focal point of our Tefillot, of our ancestors’ songs and all our literature- and yet it is not mentioned at all in the Torah?! Hashem tells Avraham to go and offer his son Yitzchak, in Eretz Hamoriah, “on one of the mountains, which I will tell you” (Breishit 22,2)and Rashi tells us that the reference is to Yerushalayim, and yet Hashem does not say so explicitly. Also in “Az Yashir”, the nation sing that Hashem “will bring them to the mountain of your inheritance, the place of your dwelling” (Shmot 15,17) – again with reference to Yerushalayim, but not expressed clearly. We can not say that Hashem only chose Yerushalayim later on in history, it was obviously all planned ahead by Hashem. Why then is it hidden?
We find a similar case with Avraham- he is commanded to leave his homeland (Breishit 12), and go “to the land that [Hashem] will show” him. Avraham ends up going to Kna’an, but Hashem does not tell him this explicitly. Or at least this is not told to us in the Torah. Why is this then hidden too?
There is another level to this question. When did Yerushalayim eventually get conquered and turn into the capital of the Jewish nation? Only in David’s days, about 400 years after the nation entered the Land of Israel. In Shmuel B’ chapter 5 the story of the conquering is told, and it is said there that the city was so well fortified, that even the blind and lame people could defend David’s soldiers successfully. Eventually, David entered the city through the water channel, under the city walls. Even so, we can see that the military operation of conquering the city was not an easy one.
The same thing happened in our generation. In the independence war, we were not able to recapture the city of Yerushalayim despite the many attempts- despite the many convoys sent, the bravery of the Old City residents and all the attempts to break through the siege. Only 19 years later, in the 6-day war did Tzahal manage to liberate the city.
Again we have a parallel with Eretz Yisrael. For 2000 years our nation has been in the Gallut. We have been exiled from our land and scattered around the world in the other nations. We have been trampled, persecuted and expelled, we have been through pogroms and crusades and only now, 50 years ago did we manage to take our land over again and that was not accomplished easily. Our neighbors still remind us that we are not welcome in the area and still fight us.
How can these things happen? Hashem obviously wants us in our land – so that we can develop as people and as Jews. Why then is it all hidden? Why is it all so hard to attain? Does Hashem not want to help us worship him?
Rav Aviner explains that with things so big, so fundamental- the road is often hidden. If things are explained to us, we still will not understand them. Sometimes we think we know what’s going on in the world, but the fact is we don’t. Sometimes Hashem just wants to leave things as enigmas, and show us through actions.
And maybe because the process is such a long and hard one, we come to appreciate it much more. Only things that we fight for, acquire special meaning to us. Something that we get for free- mostly means nothing to us. Therefore Hashem wants us to fight for these great things He wants us to have, and often sacrifice many things to, only so that we cherish them.
In Mesechet Brachot in the Yerushalmi, there is a story of Rabbi Chiya Rabba and Rabbi Shim’on ben Chalafta walking in the valley of Arbel. They see the dawn rising and Rabbi Chiya says to Rabbi Shim’on that the same process will happen in Yisrael’s redemption. They start off very slowly, and only afterwards do they pick up pace. What we are talking about is a huge process, and Hashem is showing us the way, taking us by His hand, so that no one gets lost on the. We have nothing to fear, for Hashem is leading us, slowly but surely.