June 18, 2019

The Magic of Jerusalem

“The Book of Genesis portrays three vastly different visits to Jerusalem. Abraham first encounters this city after intervening in a raging world war.

Years later, an acquiescent Abraham and his son voyage to the mountain to execute the divine command and perform the akedah (the binding of Isaac). Finally, Jacob flees his murderous brother and experiences his famed night-time vision on this mountain.

Though these three visits are dramatically different and undertaken by different personalities at different historical stages, they bear one common denominator. Jerusalem had never been a predestined or prearranged destination; each guest is drawn to this mountain by some powerful and unexpected force.

On returning from war, Abraham is suddenly embraced and hosted by the city’s reigning king, a mysterious figure who appears from nowhere. Subsequently, for his akedah mission, he travels to an “undetermined mountain”, whose identity will only be divinely revealed at some later stage.

According to the Midrash, Jacob actually bypasses the mountain, only to be ineluctably drawn back. There is something deeply magnetising about this city and this mountain. It exerts a subliminal and primal lure on the Jewish soul, drawing would-be travellers into its precincts. Jerusalem, our city of gold, is also a city of magnets!”

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