: Like magnets attracted to metal, Jews, no matter where in the world they find themselves, turn their hearts and prayers, to one direction: Jerusalem. Why? Why do Jews face east towards Jerusalem? “If I forget Jerusalem, then let my right hand forget its own strength (Psalms 137:5).” For the Jew, forgetting Jerusalem is tantamount to forgetting one’s identity. It is forgetting oneself. And by contrast, remembering Jerusalem is identifying with one’s very essence and inner-self.
For over two thousand years the Jewish people have longed to return to the Promised Land, the land of their forefathers. Unlike other nations exiled from their lands, the Jews’ desire to return has never ceased or lessened in intensity – rather, it has increased. As the ingathering of the exiles takes place right before our very eyes, today, Jews face east not only to dream of Jerusalem’s past glory but to hasten the reality of its rebuilding in modern Israel.
When Jews pray facing east, they are not merely turning to the capital city in the Promised Land of their forefathers. Like a missile that narrows in on its target, the soul of the Jew is programmed to seek out its source – the root of its holiness. Jews first face Israel, then as they reach Israel, Jerusalem, and lastly as they reach Jerusalem, the Western Wall – site of the Holy Temple. Their direction is one of progressive holiness, one that narrows in and targets the highest level of closeness to the Divine Presence. And that’s the secret of Jerusalem – the place where the soul unites with its Creator, the life-line of all humanity.
In the times of King Solomon, not only the Jews but all nations of the world would come to the Holy Temple and to bring offerings and connect with their Creator. The unique sanctity of Jerusalem was well known throughout the lands. According to tradition, the first stone created on earth was the famous “foundation stone” that can be found even today on the Temple Mount. This holy stone, sitting on the holiest place on earth, is therefore first physical link between the Creator and our world. It connects the spirit of man to its Source – truly the foundation upon which this world was built.
Why is the world facing east?
In today’s world, as throughout history, the entire world is facing east. Israel is always at the forefront, in the headlines, the popular topic of talk radio. The eyes of all the nations continue to zero in and focus on Jerusalem. But why does the world face east? Why this tiny piece of land that this tiny nation calls its home?
The Jews are facing east because they are facing their land, their unity, their destiny. They face Jerusalem because they are facing their past, their present and their future. But the nations of the world, too, understand the secret of Jerusalem. They face east towards the holiest place on earth, the foundation stone that bonds the human spirit to its Source. The world, too, is connecting to its past, its present and its future. The world is facing east towards its destiny.
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