Rabbi, Professor, and Lord Jonathan Sacks zz”l, former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, passed away this past Shabbat. He told of coming to Israel immediately following the Six Day War.
“I had come to study in Israel…and was standing on the newly rebuilt Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus as the sun began to set, bathing the whole landscape in a divine radiance.
As I found myself looking down on the Temple Mount, I recalled the famous story at the end of Masechet Makot, where Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues are looking down at the ruins of the Temple…As the rabbis wept, Rabbi Akiva smiled and laughed, and when asked how he could, Rabbi Akiva retold the two interlinked prophecies of Uriah – who foresaw the day when Jerusalem would be ruined – and Zachariah – who saw the day it would be rebuilt.
Said Rabbi Akiva, until he saw the first prophecy fulfilled, he was not sure the second would be. Now he had seen the first prophecy fulfilled, he knew the second would one day also come true.
I remember standing at almost that exact spot and being overwhelmed with emotion.
For almost 2,000 years, Jews had waited for that moment, and ours was the generation that lived to see Jerusalem reunited and rebuilt…
We had lived to see in person what our greatest prophets could only see in a vision.”
Am Yisrael lost its most profound and articulate representative to the nations of the world.
We long for the great people who are lost to us but who will never be forgotten