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Keri’ah Over Yerushalayim

Following the churban Beis HaMikdash, the Tanna’im instituted three dinim of keri’ah. One who sees the Beis HaMikdash in a state of churban, one who sees Yerushalayim (the Ir Ha’Atikah) in such a state, and one who sees cities of Yehudah in such a state are obligated to tear keri’ah (Mo’ed Kattan 26a). Regarding the state of churban of the cities of Yehudah, the Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim 561:1) rules that one tears keri’ah even if the city is inhabited by Jews, as long as it is ruled by non-Jews. The definition of “churban” in relation to cities of Yehudah is that these cities are no longer under Jewish control. Therefore, after the Six-Day War, we no longer tear keri’ah over the cities of Yehudah. In contrast, it seems obvious that in regard to the din of “bechurbano” in relation to the Beis HaMikdash, the determining factor is not whether the Temple Mount is under Jewish control, but whether the Beis HaMikdash itself is in a state of destruction. Thus, we do tear keri’ah nowadays upon seeing the makom haMikdash. In regard to Yerushalayim “bechurbanah,” however, it is unclear whether the takanah (enactment) to tear keri’ah depends on the political situation, under whose jurisdiction the city is, or whether it depends on the state of the Beis HaMikdash. These possibilities correspond to the two unique aspects that characterize Yerushalayim – its status as the political capital of the Jewish government in Eretz Yisrael and its being endowed with partial kedushas HaMikdash. Rav Soloveitchik was convinced that tearing keri’ah over Yerushalayim bechurbanah is a demonstration of mourning over the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. The uniqueness of Yerushalayim is that it was sanctified with a partial kedushas haMikdash. The azarah was sanctified with a kedushah corresponding to machaneh Shechinah, the Har HaBayis with kedushas machaneh Leviyah, and Yerushalayimwith kedushas machaneh Yisrael. Kedushas machaneh Yisrael stems from kedushas machaneh Shechinah, and that is why Yerushalayim contains a lower level of kedushas haMikdash. Therefore, when the Beis HaMikdash is in a state of destruction, even if the Ir Ha’Atikah is under Jewish sovereignty and Jewish presence in the city continues to increase, Yerushalayim is still halachically considered to be in a state of churban. Thus, the takanah to tear keri’ah over Yerushalayim bechurbanah still applies. Likewise, the Rav did not see fit to celebrate Yom Yerushalayim with the recitation of Hallel, because he felt that the city remains in a state of destruction if the Beis HaMikdash is in such a state. In terms of Halachah, nothing of significance occurred on the day of the city’s inclusion under Jewish sovereignty. The Rav’s view is considered to be the minority opinion. The prevalent practice is that we do not tear keri’ah over Yerushalayim at this time, now that Yerushalayim is under Jewish sovereignty. We assume that when the chachamim instituted the din of keri’ah over the destruction of Yerushalayim, it was to mourn the fact that it could no longer function as the capital of the Jewish government. We do consider it halachically significant that, since 1967, Yerushalayim can once again serve as the Ir HaBirah in a political sense. The Jewish control of Yerushalayimis a considerable cause for celebration. [Since there is a machlokes regarding whether keri’ah should be performed, we do not tear keri’ah. First, there is a general rule that in a case of machlokes in hilchos aveilus, the halachah is in accordance with the lenient opinion. The takanah of keri’ah over Yerushalayim bechurbanah would presumably be governed by this principle, since this keri’ah is an expression of aveilus. Second, whenever the mitzvah of keri’ah does not apply, the act of keri’ah would be included in the prohibition of bal tashchis (destroying usable items) (Pischei Teshuvah, Yoreh De’ah 340:1). Therefore, keri’ah should only be performed when there is a definite obligation to do so.]