The very first time we find explicit mention of Har haMoriah in the Torah is when Avraham Avinu travels there to perform Akeidat Yitzchak. Avraham Avinu ended up performing two acts on Har haMoriah: he bowed (hishtachavayah), as it says, "V'neilchah ad koh v'nishtachaveh…, And we shall go and bow…" (Bereishit 22:5), and he brought a korban, as it says, "Vayeilech Avraham yikach et ha'ayil vaya'aleihu l'olah tachat b'no, And Avraham went and took the ram and offered it up as an olah in place of his son" (v. 13). Since that moment, every time we go up to Har haMoriah, we are commanded to perform these two acts: hishtachavayah and bringing a korban, as the Rambam rules in Hilchot Beit haBechirah 1:1. Today, there is unfortunately no Mikdash and no kohen, so we pray in Mussaf of the Shalosh Regalim to return to the way t hings were: "V'havi'einu l'tziyon ircha b'rinah, v'lirushalayim beit mikdashcha b'simchat olam, v'sham na'aseh l'fanecha et korbenot chovoteinu…, And bring us to Zion, your city, with joy, and to Jerusalem, your Temple, with eternal happiness, and there we will perform before You the obligatory sacrifices…," and "V'sham na'aleh v'neira'eh v'nishtachaveh l'fanecha, And there we will go up and be seen and bow before you."
The hishtachavayah of the Beit haMikdash has two parts. One aspect of hishtachavayah is hoda'ah, thanking Hashem for all of the good he has done for us. The second aspect of hishtachavayah is bakashah, asking Hashem to provide what we still lack. Today, when we no longer have the privilege to bow in the Beit haMikdash, we find these two aspects of hishtachavayah in several places. They appear in two different places in the tefillah: on the one hand, we bow as we say "Modim anachnu lach," thanking Hashem for our lives, our souls, and all of the daily miracles, wonders, and kindnesses He performs for us; on the other hand we have a hishtachavayah referred to as nefilat apayim, through which we ask Hashem to show us mercy, accept our prayers, and save us for the sake of His Name.
These two aspects of hishtachavayah appear as we say Kabbalat Shabbat every week. "Romemu Hashem Elokeinu v'hishtachavu lahadom raglav, Exalt Hashem, our L-rd, and bow to His footstool" – this is bakashah; "Romemu Hashem Elokeinu v'hishtachavu l'har kodsho, Exalt Hashem, our L-rd, and bow to His holy mountain" – this is hoda'ah.
We find these two aspects once more when we shake the lulav during Hallel on Sukkot. When one shakes the lulav, he must bow forward a little. We shake and bow once as we say "Hodu laShem ki tov, ki l'olam chasdo, Give thanks to Hashem for He is good, for His kindness lasts forever" – this is hoda'ah – and once as we say "Ana, Hashem, hoshiah na, Please, Hashem, save now" – this is bakashah.
The fact that these two aspects of hishtachavayah appear in so many places is a sign of their great importance. Chazal tell us in Yalkut Shimoni on parashat VaYeira that every geulah, individual or communal, is only in the merit of hishtachavayah: Avraham Avinu merited to return from Har haMoriah only in the merit of hishtachavayah; geulat Mitzrayim was only in the merit of hishtachavayah; the Torah was given only in the merit of hishtachavayah; Chanah was remembered only in the merit of hishtachavayah; the future exiles will be ingathered only in the merit of hishtachavayah; the Beit haMikdash was built only in the merit of hishtachavayah; and the dead will come back to life only in the merit of hishtachavayah. The midrash adduces support from a passuk in each case to show the importance and relevance of hishtacha vayah to each of these geulot, demonstrating clearly that the key to geulat hayachid and geulat hatzibbur is hishtachavayah.
As we approach Yom Yerushalayim, haba aleinu l'tovah, on the one hand we must recognize Hashem's kindness and give thanks, but at the same time we must beseech Hashem for the future, "B'nei veitcha k'vatchilah v'chonein mikdashcha al mechono, Build Your house as it once was and establish your Temple upon its foundation." It is not enough to just give abundant thanks – the mishnah teaches that we silence one who says, "Modim modim" (Berachot 5:3).
However, in order for our bakashah of "B'nei veitcha k'vatchilah" to be accepted, we must show that we are deserving. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to remember today more than ever that what makes Yerushalayim so special is that it is "ir shechubrah lah yachdav" – the Yerushalmi explains that in Yerushalayim the Jews become united, chaveirim zeh lazeh. Against our achdut none can stand and none can be victorious. On the eve of the Six Day War, the municipality of Yerushalayim, together with the chevra kadisha, prepared tens of thousands of coffins in the event that they would need to bury a large number of casualties in a short period of time. In His abundant mercy, HaKadosh Baruch Hu made certain that these coffins would be used to build sukkot in Yerushalayim. If you are united, HaKadosh Baruch Hu says, I will sit you all together in a sukkat sha lom. Every one of those burial coffins was turned into wood of life. This is what David haMelech means when he says, "Samachti b'omrim li beit Hashem neilech, I rejoiced when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of Hashem" (Tehillim 122:1) – if we want to say this to each other, to be able to go to the house of Hashem, we must first recall, "Omdot hayu ragleinu bisharayich Yerushalayim, Our feet stood within your gates, Jerusalem" (v. 2) – the key to Yerushalayim is achdut, represented by the sha'ar, which connects those on the inside with those on the outside.
Every year Yom Yerushalayim falls one week before Kabbalat haTorah, one week before k'ish echad b'leiv echad. If we raise Yerushalayim up and establish it as our top priority, achieving that which Yerushalayim requires of us and demands of us, we will merit not only to return to the Kotel, but to once again ascend the mountain itself, Har haMoriah.