The Kedushah of Yerushalayim

I look forward to reading Dov Fuchs’s column, “An American in Yerushalayim.” It’s optimistic, it’s upbeat and we see Yerushalayim with an ayin tov. But last week’s column was a disappointment.

Dov focused on his friend’s visit to Yerushalayim in a negative way.

Dov, your friend is a hero!

For every one like him who chooses to come to Eretz Yisrael there are so many heimishe Yidden who don’t come, for whom Yerushalayim is not on their agenda. Yidden who don’t seem to understand or feel the pull to the Holy City. Rather than spend some quality time in Eretz Yisrael — yes, even if they’re in a luxury hotel — they would rather go skiing in Vermont, see the Grand Canyon or spend Pesach in Austria. Don’t underestimate your friend’s accomplishment. He is part of those few American Jews who connect to the city’s kedushah.

The holiness of Yerushalayim isn’t limited to the streets of Meah Shearim. The kedushah of Yerushalayim is strong enough to easily penetrate the walls of a posh hotel. Shabbos in Yerushalayim is the real thing, wherever you are staying.

Nachman Zakon

Dov Fuchs responds:

Dear Rabbi Zakon,

I am honored that you read my articles and appreciate your feedback. As you wrote, people travel all over the world for vacations and anyone who comes to Eretz Yisrael has a wonderful zechus and that should never be played down. My friend (and, really, his wife, who urged him to go) definitely deserves credit. As I wrote: “I commended him for taking time off from work to come to Yerushalayim for chizuk. … It’s not easy leaving it all behind. …” I agree that Yerushalayim holds tremendous kedushah, “enough to penetrate the walls of a posh hotel,” but, unfortunately, there are other walls and barriers that need to be penetrated in order to inspire a person: the walls that we erect around our hearts. Sometimes, being preoccupied with “living it up” prevents the lev from “letting it in.” I felt that my friend was fooling himself (and his wife) by considering his Shabbos in the lap of luxury as a true opportunity to be inspired. His trip was definitely a positive step, but with such an abundance of tangible kedushah available, I think he really missed out.