If you’ve ever been to Jerusalem, you know it’s a special place. The Talmud famously records the statement that when God created the world, Jerusalem was allocated 9/10 of all earthly beauty. But with Yom Yerushalayim, the 47th anniversary of the reunification of the Jewish People’s capital, coming this week, we can learn a great deal from another Talmudic teaching about the uniqueness of Jerusalem.
“Ten special regulations were applied to Jerusalem: (1) That a house sold there could not be liable to become irredeemable; (2) that it should never bring a heifer whose neck is broken; (3) that it could never be made a condemned city (ir hanidahat); (4) that its houses would not be defiled by tzara’at (leprosy); (5) that neither beams nor balconies protrude there; (6) that no dunghills should be made there; (7) that no kilns should be kept there; (8) that neither gardens nor orchards be cultivated there (with one exception); (9) that no fowl should be raised there; (10) that no dead person should be kept there overnight (Bavli Bava Kamma 82b).
As you peruse this list of municipal laws for Jerusalem, try to divide the items into two distinct categories. What priorities stand out? What do these laws indicate about the unique character of the city?
On Shabbat morning, we’ll study this list and see how the values behind ancient municipal regulations might guide the Jerusalem of today.
And while you’re thinking about it, enjoy this expression of the joy of Jerusalem, courtesy of the students and staff of Tichon Ramah Yerushalayim (TRY), and look for a familiar face in this video!
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi David Wise