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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tatzpit Har Hatzofim — Mount Scopus Lookout Point©

When I stand at the Har Hatzofim lookout point I remember my father, ah, singing a song that expressed a Jews longing to Yerushalayim. The words echo from deep inside me, and waves of gratitude to the One Above wash over me for enabling me to stand on Har Hatzofim and see the light of Jerusalems vista. For one hundred generations Jews dreamed about Yerushalayim, and here Hashem has given me the zechus to stand and view that which thousands of exiles, from all ends of the earth, would have done anything and given everything to see.

Standing at this lookout point, the spectator has a great view of Jerusalems Old and New cities. Today Jerusalem is so sprawling that it is hard to comprehend that its miraculous rebuilding beyond the walls started only about 152 years ago. Maybe what is being witnessed from this mountaintop are the fruits of myriad prayers of Jews worldwide, requesting the building of Yerushalayim.

However, we do not aspire for physical growth. We want a Jerusalem that is Yerushalayim ircha, which according to Harav Avigdor Miller, ztl, means all the citizens in the city will be yirei Shamayim and fulfilling Hashems will. Nevertheless, from Tatzpit Har Hatzofim one can revel in the fulfillment of prophecies that Yerushalayim will burst out right and left (Yeshaya 54:3): The place of her tent has broadened and the curtain of her dwelling has stretched out (based on ibid: 2); and the miracle of Zechariahs prophecy (2:8) being realized: “… Jerusalem will be settled beyond its wall ... It is a wonderful feeling to see the expansion of Yerushalayim.

Yet, that Golden Dome situated where our Beis Hamikdash should be standing makes the heart contract in pain over this great chillul Hashem. Looking down and seeing this violation should be a motivation to cry out and beg, Let Moshiach come, let him come!

The panoramic view from Tatzpit Har Hatzofim, which is at an elevation of 2710 feet above sea level, shows Jerusalems distinct skyline. The city has a somewhat uniform look, due to strict building regulations limiting the height of most structures. This enables one to view the whole city from many vantage points as it seems to swoop up and down the hillsides.

When the British ruled Jerusalem from 1917 to 1948, they mandated the use of local limestone, known as Jerusalem stone, for all facades. Pinkishwhite in colour, Jerusalem stones hue changes throughout the day as the light changes. Called by many the City of Gold, Jerusalem at certain times of the day appears to be golden because of the sun shining on Jerusalem stone.

As one looks out from the lookout point, starting from the right is Shmuel Hanavis grave site, beneath it Ramot, and slightly to the left is Ramat Shlomo. Then the Belzer Beis Medrash crowns Ezras Torah, Kiryat Sanz, Unsdorf, Mattersdorf, and Romema. The building of Kiryat Banot stands out lower in this area.
Moving our view leftward, we can see on the skyline Gesher Hameitarim (the String Bridge), Lev Hair Clal Building, Nachlaot, the Great Synagogue, the Crown Plaza Hotel, the King David Hotel, Kiryat Yovel, Gilo, and Beit Lechem, and on to Chevron. Closer in, one can see Beit Tovei Hair, Geulah,and the dome of the Boyaner shul.

In the Old City one can see the Golden Dome, above it the Muslim Quarter, and above that the Christian Quarter. The Jewish Quarter with the Churvah, and the Armenian Quarter with Har Zion can be seen further to the back.

To the far left is the slope of Har Hazeisim and Beit Orot. The Augusta Victoria Tower is built in a style reminiscent of medieval German castles. (Named for the wife of German Kaiser Wilhelm II, who visited Jerusalem in 1898, the project was the brainchild of the Empress herself.) It can be seen by turning away from Tatzpit Har Hatzofim.

The Yehudah Desert is even further right and out of sight from this outlook. However, from the Gerald Halbert Park and Observation Plaza on the other side, one can see down toward the Dead Sea and even over the Jordan border.

Tatzpit Har Hatzofim is located on what is today called Har Hatzofim. In actuality, though, it is part of the whole mountain range (running north to south, directly east of the Old City of Jerusalem) called Har Hazeisim (Mount of Olives), which was and is used mainly as traditional Jewish burial grounds.

When the Hebrew University was founded in 1918, in order that people should not associate it with Har Hazeisim and call it Der Toiter (The Dead) Universita, its founders called the district Har Hatzofim, to change the image of this institution.

In truth, the name Har Hatzofim (Mount of the Watchers) suits the area very well. Hatzofim in Hebrew and its Greek and Latin translation Scopus both describe the fact that this mountain looks over Jerusalem from its height.

After the 1948 War of Independence, Mount Scopus, where the Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital are situated, remained in Jewish hands although it was unequivocally on the Jordanian side of the boundary. Once every two weeks Israeli soldiers, disguised as policemen, would travel in a convoy in order to be able to reach Mount Scopus to guard the area. The original sites of Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital were technically under the protection of the United Nations, but despite the Mount Scopus Agreement, the institutions were not permitted to reopen.

The miraculous 1967 war reunited all of Jerusalem, and the institutions on Har Hatzofim — Hadassah Hospital, the Botanical Gardens and Hebrew University were restored to public service.

The wall separating Israel from the Palestinian Authority has been constructed to include Mount Scopus within the borders of Israel. It seems that they intend it remains in Israeli hands in the future when negotiating "land for peace".

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