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Pesach: Why do we say, “Next year in Jerusalem”?

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Why during Pesach do we exclaim,

“Leshanah haba’ah b’Yerushalaim,” – “Next year in Jerusalem”?

Rabbi Nosson Finkel, the Sabbah of Slobodka, used to explain that the primary purpose of ‘aliyat haregel’ – making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem – was for the sake of sasson, to benefit from the elation that that city gives to the world. He would quote the verse in Psalm 48,

“Mesos kol ha’aretz,” – Jerusalem gives elation to the world.

It’s actually interesting that in the midrash we learn that Rabbi Yochanan tells us that in temple times there was a business centre which was situated outside Jerusalem.That’s where all business deals were made. And the reason? Because sometimes in business matters, there are some people who emerge disappointed or saddened, and there should be no disappointment, no sadness whatsoever within the walls of Jerusalem.

Indeed, Jerusalem is not just a place of happiness, it’s a place of elation. And that’s why, in our prayers over the High Holy Days, we say,

“Simcha l’artzechah vesasson l’irechah.” – “Please, God, give happiness to your Holy Land and elation to your holy City of Jerusalem.”

Additionally in the Lechah Dodi melody that we sing on Friday nights, we say, “Yasiss alayich Elokayich kimsos chatan v’kallah.” – “O Jerusalem, may God give you the elation which is similar to that of a bride and groom under their chuppah.

During the festival of Pesach, we are blessed as individuals, as family, as communities, and as a nation to have the simcha of the yomtov – deep and wonderful joy. But at this time we pray that God will bless us with added joy, and we say,

“Leshanah haba’ah b’Yerushalaim.” – “Please God, next year may we have the sasson of Jerusalem.”

And indeed, at what point in the seder proceedings do we say  “Leshanah haba’ah b’Yerushalaim”? We first exclaim in ‘chasal siddur Pesach’ “beduyim leTzion b’rina” – “Please God, enable us to be redeemed in Zion with joy, and immediately after the word joy comes “Leshanah haba’ah b’Yerushalaim.”

That is our prayer, that we will indeed enjoy the ultimate happiness which will come to our people with the full redemption. May we all indeed be in Jerusalem next year – Leshanah haba’ah b’Yerushalaim.

I wish you all chag kasher v’sameach.