While celebrating the liberation of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War, let us remember that the victory was not achieved through the sword alone.
This week we will be celebrating Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), the anniversary of the day that the eternal Jewish capital was freed from Jordanian occupation in June 1967.
Yom Yerushalayim, the Six-Day War victory, the liberation of Jerusalem, and all of Jewish history along with it are nothing less than miraculous. The victory of Jerusalem, however, was an open miracle. A clear wink from Above.
A month earlier, in May 1967, the Egyptian dictator, Gamal Abdul Nasser, proudly announced that he would “drive the Jews into the sea” and that “we will be marching on to Haifa, Jaffa, Akko! We shall slaughter you. We shall wipe you out. Kill the Jews. Wipe out Israel.” Syria was in on the deal, as was Jordan. Everyone thought that it was over for the Jewish state. Massive cemeteries were made ready for soldiers and citizens alike.
Great rabbis the world over, however, reassured the people that everything would be ok. “The Guardian of Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers,” they declared.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, prophetically declared from his synagogue in Brooklyn before the Six-Day War that “…Your brothers and sisters who find themselves in the Holy Land, in Israel, now stand in a situation in which G-d shields them and sends them His blessings, His success and salvation to an even greater degree – in order for them to be saved; and, indeed, they will be delivered from the current situation successfully… We shall then see the fulfillment of the verse that ‘You shall dwell securely in your Land’ – the Jews in the Land of Israel will live in safety”
However, the Rebbe said that the performance of mitzvot (Torah commandments) is also needed to ensure the victory. As our sages have always taught, the spiritual and the physical are intertwined, they depend on each other. Readers might be familiar with the sight of followers of Rabbi Schneerson regularly attempting to place the Tefillin (phylacteries) boxes upon Jewish passerby at malls and other public places on a daily basis. This project of theirs goes back to the Six-Day War, when Rabbi Schneerson specifically singled out the mitzvah of Tefillin as one that would bring the Israeli army their military victory. The Tefillin project was thus born and continues to this day.
And war broke out. Israel decimated the Egyptian airforce and defeated the armed forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan in a matter of hours. Six days after the war began, Israel had quadrupled its size, capturing the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria. Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall were once again under Jewish sovereignty after a 2000-year hiatus. Every visit to the Western Wall, the Kotel, deserves a thank you to God and to the soldiers who redeemed it.
As we look back and think about what contributed to the success of the Six-Day War, let us remember that it is never the sword alone. As Torah Jews we believe that our spiritual efforts lead to physical and material dividends. Just as the observance of the Torah helped us then, it will continue to help us now. Zionism without the Torah and mitzvot is like a body without a soul. On Yom Yerushalayim, let us give thanks to God for the miracles He performed on our behalf and pledge to be even better Jews in order to ensure we are deserving of future assistance.