From Our Archives: Yom Yerushalayim by Yonatan Kohn
On the eve of Yom Yerushalayim, it is only natural to reflect upon the monumental events of the Six Day War and their wider implications. Tradition published two symposia surrounding the theological implications of the war and the larger issue of G-d’s hand in history. The first, published in the summer of 1968, takes the form of a conversation, with the contributors responding to each other’s points and questions. Though the voices vary in their approaches to contextualizing the war, their contributions collectively ring with a sense of excitement and wonder.
The 1992 symposium, revisiting the issues first raised in the 1968 version, has an entirely different tone. Most contributors readily dismissed Messianic indicators and harbingers in the war’s events, instead focusing on whether or not Israel’s victory constituted a technical miracle. Typical is Rabbi Lord Jakobovits’s sober observation, “In the light of subsequent events-from the Yom Kippur War to the Intifada and the Gulf War-the questions posed in the heady days of 1967 seem utterly dated, almost anachronistic”. Also noteworthy in this regard is a response to this second symposium, in the Summer 1993 Communications section. There, Rabbi Solomon Spiro challenges the posture assumed by most of the symposium’s participants. What, he asks, are the potentially perilous results of undervaluing a miracle?
Finally, of course, the legacy of the Six Day War has continued to evolve and challenge us over the past 19 years. The Oslo peace initiative; the assassination of a Prime Minister; the series of bombings and street attacks; parades of rockets; coupled with kidnappings of soldiers, less-than-spectacular military campaigns, and Disengagements have all done their part to temper the enthusiasm that the war generated. And today’s questions would include some that have not yet been raised in this forum, perhaps because their answers were thought to be obvious. These questions surround the ethical and moral status of the territories controlled in the wake of the war and how those territories should rightly be administered. Such questions are at the heart of the recent tensions between the United States and Israel. In any case, let us recall the lessons of hope that the Six Day War initially taught us. In the words of Rabbi Dr. Wurzburger, z”l, from his 1992 essay, “The very existence of a Jewish state… helps to confirm our faith in the feasibility of a Messianic ideal.” May we adhere to that faith and see its fulfillment speedily in our days.
Symposium Summer 1968
Symposium Summer 1992
Summer 1993 Communications