Jerusalem of gold... at her heart a wall"
Observations and hope
On Yom Ha'atzmaut 5727, a young singer named Shuli Natan took the stage. Hers was the first performance of the song Yerushalayim shel Zahav - "Jerusalem of Gold," which Naomi Shemer had written a short time earlier.
Like other songs, this song entered into history in part because it touched upon emotional and nostalgic motifs. It is impossible to know what might have become of the song if the Six Day War had not followed quickly upon the heels of its debut, or if that war had been limited to Israel's southern or northern borders.
I recall meeting a rather elderly Jew, someone from the same town as my late mother, z"l, soon after that war's conclusion. He said that the extra verse should not have been added after the war, that it would have been better to leave it as an authentic expression of yearning and longing. At the time I listened to his words, but I am not sure I understood him completely.
Today, 47 years after that war, after all the People Israel both in Israel and abroad were stirred by Rabbi Goren z"l's blast of the shofar and Motta Gur z"l announcement, "The Temple Mount is in our hands," it seems that worldly-wise Jew may have known what he was talking about. If we will have to choose between the two versions of the song, which shall we choose? Have we really "returned to the water cisterns"? And what of "the market square"?
The phrase "at her heart a wall" is especially interesting and thought-provoking. There is a tangible wall surrounding the Old City; it is thanks to that wall that we read the Meggilah on the 15th of Adar, as in Shushan, "So that the Land of Israel will be remembered in connection with this miracle" (as RaMBaM states in Hilkhot Megillah). However, it seems that Naomi Shemer was principally referring to another wall; after all, the complete line reads: "The city which sits lonely, at her heart a wall." That line takes us back to Lamentations: Lonely sits the city once great with people.
The wall is found, then, at the heart of the city which sits "lonely." Is it the wall which divides the city's heart?
The heart is the origin of human emotion, but it is also the source of reason. Regarding the Tabernacle we read: and I have granted wisdom to the hearts of all the wise (Shemot 31:6), and RaMBaM (Guide for the Perplexed 1:39) uses the term "heart" in the sense of "thought" or "knowledge."
Thus, the city sits lonely with conflicting opinions and a heart divided by a wall. After the Six Day War, all or most of us thought or hoped that the city had been united and that the tangible wall would become a place where we could stroll, a place connecting the city's different parts. It seems that we were mistaken in that regard. Apparently, a city's walls cannot be taken down through war. Perhaps other directions must be taken in order to speak to the heart of the city and to the hearts of its inhabitants and in order to genuinely unite the city. Perhaps we also need to care for the city's neglected areas and for the welfare of their residents.
Perhaps, in these days, all this seems like a dream. Perhaps the city is presently "captivated by her dreams." That, however, is no reason to stop dreaming and hoping for the city's unification, regardless of whatever diplomatic or municipal solution may be arrived at. May we be granted in our own days to see a city united together, a city that that makes all of its inhabitants into friends.