Shir Ha-Ma'alot #14

And build Jerusalem, the Holy City, speedily in our days

"Speedily in our days." And yet we know that redemption comes "slowly, slowly"? The expression "speedily" points to the powerful inner desire to build Jerusalem. Even if ages and epochs pass until the building of the Temple, there is a huge difference between a person who lives with anticipation for its building and a person who is apathetic. The essence of this burning thirst is the worship of Hashem. Our Sages say that we do not know when the Messiah will come, and one must await his arrival every day, as it is written: "Though he tarries, await him." They ask: Perhaps we anticipate his coming, but Hashem has no plan in this area? The verse therefore says: "And therefore Hashem will wait to be gracious to you and therefore He will be exalted to have mercy on you" (Yeshayahu 30:18). Rashi explains: "Hashem will wait, He Himself waits and desires for the Messiah to come." If so, our Sages ask: If we are waiting and He is waiting, what delays his coming? - The attribute of justice delays it (because we are not yet worthy of it). This is the concept of reward and punishment. But since the attribute of justice delays it, then for what purpose are we waiting? To receive a reward, as it says: Praiseworthy are those who wait for him (ibid.). Praiseworthy are those who await the coming of the Messiah, praiseworthy are those who await the building of Jerusalem (Sanhedrin 97b).
The truth is, however, that the Redemption did not arrive slowly but with considerable speed. Relating to the verse, "And you shall speedily perish completely from off the Land" after sinning, our Sages did an accounting that "speedily" was 850 years (Sanhedrin 38a and Rashi to Devarim 4:25). Since the beginning of the return to Zion, just over one hundred years ago, we have already traversed an extremely long path. Wonder of wonders! This is called speedily! Were our mouths as full of song as the sea we still could not sufficiently thank Hashem.