Wednesday, June 24th, is the Hebrew date of the 28th of the month of Iyar. This day is a significant day for the Jewish people and I think, for the whole world as well. It is the day that we celebrate what is called “Yom Yerushalayim”, Jerusalem Day. We celebrate the anniversary of the day in 1967, during the famous six day war, when the IDF captured the Old City of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and the Kotel, from Jordanian occupation and reunited the divided city of Jerusalem under Jewish rule. This year is especially significant as the 50th anniversary of that momentous event.
Interestingly, the Code of Jewish Law (O.C. 580:2) says that the 28th of Iyar is the anniversary of the death of Samuel the Prophet, (yartzheit in Yiddish). I don’t believe that the coinciding of these two events is a a coincidence. What is the connection between the prophet, Samuel and Jerusalem?
We know from the Biblical book of Samuel, that it was he who anointed the first two kings of Israel, Saul and David. King David ruled Israel for the first seven years of his reign from the city of Hebron and decided together with Samuel to move the capital to Jerusalem. King David captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites and bought the site of the Temple from one of the Jebusites. Although G-d did not allow King David to build the Temple himself, because of his involvement in wars, He nevertheless allowed his son, Solomon to build it. King David was instrumental in deciding on the precise location of the future temple and according to the Talmud (B.T. Menahot 54b, Rashi ad loc.), he determined this location with the prophetic help of Samuel. So it was actually Samuel the Prophet who informed King David of the precise location of the Temple Mount, which came back into Jewish hands, fittingly, on his yahrzeit.
Samuel also made a famous proclamation that “the Eternal (Netzach) of Israel will not lie.” (Samuel I:15:29) The simple translation of this verse is that G-d, the Eternal One of Israel will not lie, and will guarantee the eternity of the Jewish people. In addition, the word can be translated as “victory” and “eternity,” so that the verse could also be understood as saying that Jewish victory, or Jewish eternity is also promised by G-d. The Talmud (B.T. Berachot 58a) actually states that one of the names for Jerusalem is the word “Netzach.” So that, Jerusalem, the city of eternity, is the city that symbolizes the presence of G-d, the Eternal One, amongst the Jewish people, the eternity of the Jewish people, and the victory of the Jewish people. How fitting that the city of Netzach returned to the Jews, on the day that we commemorate the prophet Samuel.