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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Jerusalem on my mind

"... There are places in Jerusalem with which I am familiar and know about, and yet when I happen upon them it seems to me that I have never seen them before. Yet, in contrast, there are places where I have never been, and when I come there it seems to me that I am familiar with and know them.

And because I have always wandered the streets of Jerusalem by day and by night, I never had the time to learn any craft. Worse than that, I was not occupied with the study of the Torah, and a Jew who does not study the Torah is admonished by his heart: What will you say on the Day of Judgment when they ask you "Did you study Torah?" And what will I say? I will say that I studied Jerusalem, and I am certain that they will say to me - "You have done well." And it seems to me that the words that I have prepared as an answer for the Day of Judgment were acceptable to my heart as well, and it no longer chides me.

Sometimes my heart even wandered about with me from place to place and rejoiced with me - until I left Jerusalem and went to a foreign land and spent there all the days of the Great War and some years after, not by my own volition, until the Almighty brought me back to my place, to Jerusalem.

And because my soul overflowed that the Almighty had brought me back to my place and I could walk about Jerusalem as in the days of old, I broke forth with praise of the Lord and of Jerusalem, the city that the Almighty had selected of all His creation. Even though He exiled Himself, as it were, from her, He did not take away her uniqueness."
S.Y. Agnon, Lifnim Min HaHomah