The period following the Maccabean Revolt ushered in tremendous expansion in the city of Yerushalayim and even on the Har Habayis (Temple Mount). Yerushalayim expanded westward to include the area known as the Upper City and a combination of enlargement and refurbishing of the enclosure of the Har Habayis resulted as well. As a result, Yerushalayim in this period once again became a prosperous and beautiful city. But to understand these important developments, it is necessary first to know what happened in the aftermath of the re-conquest of the city and Beis Hamikdash under Yehudah the Maccabee in the revolt of 168-164 BCE.
There was much excitement a few weeks ago when a report that an ancient Hebrew Papyrus mentioning Yerushalayim, dating to the 7th century BCE and certainly proving the Jewish presence there, had been recovered. Papyrus, a writing material made of reeds crisscrossed and pressed together, was commonly used in the ancient Near East for all kinds of documents and appears to have been used in ancient Israel as well.
The document, only an inch high and a bit more than four inches wide, preserved a short Hebrew text, a record of the delivery of wine: “From the female servant of the king, from Naharata [a place near Jericho], two wineskins to Jerusalem.” The papyrus was reportedly confiscated by Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) investigators from Bedouin who had plundered it from a cave in the Judean Desert some years earlier.
Warsaw, Poland, a city and land where “some of the most abhorrent events in world history” took place, where almost 3.5 million Jews who had lived side-by-side with Polish Catholics for over 800 years were nearly totally annihilated by the Nazis in the 20th century, along with three million Catholics and others — 1/10 of the total Polish population. Today, a tenuous, problematic, fragile rebirth is underway after a Polish pope wrought an irreversible new brotherhood between the two religions. This country, with its burden of tragedy and seeds of hope was appropriately chosen to host the 23rd bi-annual meeting of the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee.
The ILC, created in 1971, is composed of representatives of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC) that includes delegates of the major organizations of world Jewry.
I addressed the attendees of the 23rd bi-annual meeting of the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee (ILC) in Warsaw, Poland. The following is the edited text of my speech.
Judaism represents a unique combination of universalism and particularism. The balancing of these two tendencies provides a creative tension between the concept that all humans are created in the image of God, and the attitudes and obligations that flow from it, and the belief in the special nature of the Jewish people, often… Continue reading