Thursday, November 24, 2005

V'Shavu Banim l'Gvulam

V'Shavu Banim l'Gvulam
by David Wilder
The Jewish Community of Hebron
November 24, 2005

 This morning, while eating breakfast, my eye caught an article in a local paper. Submitted by Kiryat Arba resident Yeshovev Friedberg, it relates a true story which I don't recall having heard before. By the time I'd finished reading, it had caught not only my eye, but also my heart. I like to relate it to you.

This coming Shabbat, as we read "Parshat Chaye Sarah,", reading how Abraham purchased a small cave and the field around, here in Hebron, almost 4,000 years ago, you might want to keep this story in mind. Thank G-d, we have been privileged to fulfill the prophecy: V'Shavu Banim l'Gvulam.

Dr. Max Nordau, one of the founders of the World Zionist Organization, was named at birth Meir-Simcha. However, he was known as Max, a children's doctor in Paris. The following story was told by Avraham Shmuel Yehuda, a Jerusalem Orientalist professor, in his book, "Ezer HaRav," describing how Nordau became interested in Zionism.

On the second night of First Zionist Congress in Basel, Nordau spoke in German, giving a long speech. He mentioned several times, as a motto, three words from Jeremiah, in Hebrew, "v"Shavu Banim l'Gvulam," – "Our Children Have Returned to their Borders." When asked by a young representative at the congress how he found this verse, and especially in Hebrew,  for this did not fit Nordau's educational background, Nordau replied: "I know these words from the person to whom I am obliged all my Judaism and Zionism. A person whose name I don't even know. A person who was, in essence, only a little boy of eight or ten. And this is what happened:

 "I have a children's clinic in Paris. A woman, an immigrant from Poland, her hair covered with a scarf, came in with a pale boy, 8 or 10, sick for three weeks. Someone recommended that she bring him to me. I took out a form for a new patient and tried to speak to him in our local language, but he could hardly understand French. I asked his mother, who was also very poor at French, and she said, 'no he doesn't go to a regular school, he goes to a "Heder," a Jewish religious school.'

 I scolded her harshly. 'This only causes anti-Semitism. We have opened the door for you, the gates to the country, to refugees from Poland. Why doesn't your child learn the national language here?'

 She apologized and said that he is still young and that her husband is from the 'old generation,' but that he will grow and study in the 'gymnasium' (modern school), and will learn the language.

 In anger I asked the child, 'in Heder, what did you learn?' His eyes lit up, and in Yiddish, which I understood because of my German, told me what he had last studied in Heder.

 "Ya'akov," he said, "was dying and he invited Yosef and commanded him, swearing him, pleaded before him, please, don't bury me in Egypt. There is Ma'arat HaMachpela, Avraham, Yitzhak, Ya'akov, Sarah, Rivka, and there I buried Lea. Take me from Egypt and bury me with them. And when I came from Padan , Rachel died in Eretz Canaan, on the way to Efrat, and I buried her there, on the way, in Beit Lechem.

 "Why, in the middle of Ya'akov's request, does he tell the story of Kever Rachel?" "Rashi says," – and this is all the child talks about, 8 or 10 years old, speaking about the 'Sages' – that Ya'akov felt a necessity to apologize to Yosef and say, I bother you like this, to take me from Egypt to Hebron, and I, mysef, didn’t bother to take your mother Rachel. And despite that I was very close. Next to Beit Lechem, Even into the city I didn't take her, I buried her on the way.

  But I'm not guilty and didn't act wrongly. G-d wanted it this way. He knew: the murderer Nebuchadnezzar would, in the future, exile the sons of Rachel, her sons, during the first destruction, and then she would leave her grave and weep and wail and her voice would be heard: Rachel weeps for her children. But the L-rd responds to her: "Stop your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, because there is a reward for you actions, and a hope for the future, and the children will return to their borders – v'Shavu Banim l'Gvulam."

 "And I," says Dr. Max Nordau, "I didn't know what to do with myself. I turned to the window so that the mother and child wouldn't see the tears rolling down my cheeks, and I said to myself, 'Max, aren't you ashamed of yourself? You are an educated man, known as an intellectual, with a Doctor's degree, but you don't know anything about the history of your people. >From all of the holy scriptures, nothing? And here, this sick child, weak, an immigrant, a refugee. And he speaks of Ya'akov and Yosef and Jeremiah, and Rachel, as if it was yesterday, it all lives in front of his eyes?'"

 "I wiped the tears from my cheeks and turned to them and said, in my heart, 'a people, with children like this, that actually live their past, they will have a sparkling future."

 "In the weekend newspaper I saw an advertisement, "Whoever believes that the fate of the Jewish people is important to them, please call to help find an answer. Dr. Theodore Hertzl." I called immediately.

 When we founded the Zionist Congress, at the first one, when I was honored to speak and give a speech, the figure of that little boy, whose name I don't even remember, stood in front of my eyes. But those words I will never forget, because they are the foundation of Zionism, they are the pillars of Judaism, V'Shavu Banim l'Gvulam – and the children will return to their borders."



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Monday, November 21, 2005

Chaye Sarah Dvar Torah.doc

Ma'arat HaMachpela: The Roots of the Jewish People

by David Wilder

The Jewish Community of Hebron

Erev Parshat Chaye Sarah


The Torah teaches us that Avraham, sitting outside his tent following his brit milah, seeing three men approaching, ran to fix them a meal. When he entered the sheep pen to prepare fresh meat, a calf ran away. As Avraham chased the calf, the animal suddenly disappeared. Continuing to search, Avraham saw a cave in the distance and approached, thinking that perhaps the calf had run inside. Arriving at the cave and peering in, Avraham saw a bright light glowing, from deep within. Entering to investigate, walking deeper and deeper into the cave, Avraham discovered the tombs of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman. He also smelled fragrances from the Garden of Eden.


How did Adam and Eve arrive at this site? It is written that following their exile from the Garden of Eden they wished to return, but they had no idea where it was. They searched and searched until they reached a point where they could smell the exquisite fragrances of that unique place. There, the first man began digging and dug a cave within a cave, until a voice from the heavens forbade him to dig further. There he buried his wife Eve, and later he too was interred there (Zohar).


Realizing the sanctity of the site, Avraham left the cave, desiring to purchase it. According to the Midrash (Pirkei d’Rebbi Eliezer) he approached the Jebusites and requested to purchase from them the cave. (The Midrash specifies that the Jebusites and the Hittities were both from the same tribe, Paleshet.) They answered Avraham, “We know that your future offspring will try to conquer our home city (Jerusalem). If you agree to prevent them from conquering Jerusalem, we will sell you the cave.”


Avraham agreed and signed a contract which was hung on statues outside the gates of Jerusalem. There are commentators who hold that Joshua did not conquer Jerusalem when he entered Israel, due to Avraham’s agreement. Centuries later, King David purchased Temple Mount from the Jebusites only after he destroyed these statues.


Did Avraham really agree to relinquish Jerusalem for Hebron? No. Avraham realized that in order to attain the sanctity of Jerusalem, it was necessary to begin at the foundations of civilization, at the point which joins this world to another world, to the Garden of Eden. Starting here, at the cave, the foundations of the world, they could then progress slowly, until finally reaching the holiness of Jerusalem. This is similar the “Jacob’s ladder,” of which it is written that the top of the ladder reached the heavens but the legs of the ladder were firmly entrenched on the ground.


Where is a connection between Jerusalem and Hebron, site of these caves, discovered by Avraham, called Ma’arat HaMachpela? The Talmud says, in the tractate Yoma, that every day, before beginning work in the Beit HaMikdash, the Temple, the priests would look out and ask, has the sun yet risen in the east, even as far as Hebron? If the answer was positive, work would commence. If not, if it was still dark in Hebron, the priests in Jerusalem would have to wait.


Very likely the merit by which Avraham earned discovery of Ma’arat HaMachpela is due to his desire and willingness to fulfill the positive precept of ‘’hachnasat orchim,” hosting guests,, despite the very hot weather and the pain he experienced three days after his Brit Milah. This reflects Avraham’s primary trait, that of ‘chesed’ or total, unrelenting loving-kindness.


Where did Avraham learn the trait of chesed? It would seem, from HaShem, from G-d Himself. In our prayers, which we repeat three times daily, we say, “the great, strong, awesome G-d, the supreme G-d.” What would we expect to follow? Perhaps, the G-d who created heavens and earth, or who created man?  No. We continue, “[G-d] who practices fine chesed and remembers the chesed of the Forefathers. This is what Avraham learned from HaShem. And this is the pillar of Ma’arat HaMachpela – chesed.


This is Avraham’s primary trait, that of chesed, as it is written, ‘He bestowed chesed to Avraham.’ Why especially to Avraham? It is written, “A world of chesed will be created.” In other words, creation of the world was dependant on total chesed, without any restrictions. Later, rules were established and the chesed was limited, borders were implemented. (So it is that Yitzhak’s trait is ‘gevurah,’ which represents the ability to live with restrictions, an enclosing, an implementation of constraints, and the opposite of chesed.)


Why was Avraham’s trait chesed? His existence in the world and his revelation of one G-d was as the re-creation of the world anew, the seeds of the birth of Am Yisrael, a time necessitating total chesed, as was during the time of Adam and Eve. And so it was that Avraham was merited to be the first person to discover their final resting place, the entrance to the Garden of Eden.


There are different levels of revelation and of recognizing HaShem. There is a superficial recognition but also a deeper appreciation.


In Israel there is Jerusalem and Hebron – Beit HaMikdash and Ma’arat HaMachpela. Beit HaMikdash, the Temple, is open to all, high upon a hill. Ma’arat HaMachpela is a cave, hidden from all eyes, inner. Beit HaMikdash extends outward. Ma’arat HaMachpela extends inward. One, to the heavens, and one to the depths of the earth. One bursts out and the other, directed towards our roots.


Of course, each site has levels within levels. Beit HaMikdash has a section called Kodesh, Holy and a more restricted area called Kodesh HaKodeshim, the Holy of Holies. Ma’arat HaMachpela has two caves, an outer cave and an inner cave.


Why then is the supreme holiness in Jerusalem and not in Hebron? This is the way of the world: “In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was filled with tohu v’vohu (confusion). The Torah continues with incidents ‘on earth,’ that which is revealed. The heavens remain ‘hidden’ and untouched.


With that it should be noted that the final goal, the full redemption, is return to the era of the Garden of Eden before man’s original sin.


All may view that which is revealed but revelation of the hidden is dependant on G-d, on His chesed, His willingness to allow entrance into ‘the arena of the hidden’  In other words, Avraham’s discovery of Ma’arat HaMachpela is an example of  how chesed begets chesed (i.e., an example of ‘mida k’neged mida’ – an attribute begets an atttibute).


We know of four couples buried at Ma’arat HaMachpela: Adam and Eve, Avraham and Sarah, Yitzhak and Rivka, Ya’akov and Lea.


However, it is written that there are actually five couples buried at Ma’arat HaMachpela, three ‘revealed’ and two ‘hidden.’ The ‘revealed’ three are the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. The ‘hidden’ are Adam and Eve and Moshe (Moses) and Tzipporah (attributed to Sefer HaTemunah in the name of R’ Nechunia HaKana and R’ Yishmael Kohen Gadol).


What is Moshe’s connection to Ma’arat HaMachpela? The Torah writes that Moshe was very humble; he was most humble of all men. Humility is a trait reflecting selflessness and concealment. Moshe brought Torah to the people of Israel and received no reward. He was as a slave and suffered, despite his efforts on behalf of the Israelites. This reflects the trait of chesed. What person would be more suitable to unify with his roots than Moshe?


In the Torah it is written (in Hebrew) Ma’arat Sde HaMachpela (the cave in the field of Machpela.) The initials of these three words, (in Hebrew) Mem, Shin and Hay, combine to spell Moshe.


Jerusalem and Hebron blend and unify. Torah –the rules, the boundaries - the tablets of the Ten Commandments, are found in Jerusalem. (Gevurah - The trait of Yitzhak;  Akedat Yitzhak occured on Har HaMoria, site of Beit HaMikdash.) The chesed, the full loving-kindness without restriction, the trait of Avraham, is in Hebron. The lights of Hebron and the lights of Jerusalem merge to create a unity of spirituality which imbues the Jewish people (Ya’akov-Yisrael – the unity of Chesed and Gevurah), the revealed and the hidden, this is the secret of Ma’arat HaMachpela, a unity which cannot be, and never will be, ‘disengaged.’


With blessings from Hebron.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

The case for Mitzpe Shalhevet

During the past several weeks, over 100 members of the Likud Central Committee have come to Hebron to see, feel and experience the first Jewish city in the Land of Israel. They've come mostly to view Jewish property that is inaccessible to Hebron's Jewish community.

The story properly begins in 1807 when Haim Bajaio purchased, on behalf of the Hebron Jewish community, a five-dunam plot of land adjacent to the centuries-old Jewish Quarter, for 1,200 grushim. The deal was witnessed and signed by no fewer than 22 Hebron Arab notables. This property served Hebron's Jews and later accommodated the home and synagogue of its chief rabbi, Eliahu Manni.

Following the Jordanian occupation of Hebron in 1948, the entire Jewish Quarter - founded by Spanish-Jewish exiles in 1540 - was razed to the ground. Among the structures destroyed was the ancient Avraham Avinu Synagogue. In the early 1960s, an Arab fruit and vegetable market was constructed on the property bought by the Hebron community in 1807.

Following the liberation of Hebron during the 1967 Six Day War, these structures continued to function, having been rented to the Hebron Arab municipality by the Israeli government. The property contracts for these buildings expired in the 1990s, and the site was gradually closed over a period of several years, due to security concerns. The market was finally shut down following an attempted terrorist attack: Arabs placed a booby-trapped teddy bear in a plastic bag in the market near the entrance to the Jewish neighborhood, hoping a Jewish child, finding it, would play with it and be killed in the ensuing explosion.

Despite numerous requests by our community to rent the structures, the site has been left vacant.

On March 26, 2001, at the beginning of the Oslo War an Arab sniper shot and killed 10-month-old Shalhevet Pass. Following the murder, Hebron children began utilizing the abandoned Arab shuk as a place to play and take cover during shooting attacks from the overlooking Abu Sneneh Hills. Over a period of time, the Hebron community invested tens of thousands of dollars to convert the former fruit and vegetable stalls into livable apartments. Presently, the former market, renamed the Mitzpe Shalhevet neighborhood, houses Hebron families and a Torah study hall opened in Shalhevet's memory.

Mitzpe Shalhevet is presently on the brink of obliteration, not by Arabs, but by the government.

FOUR YEARS ago, in response to an Arab demand to reopen the market, the Attorney-General's office notified the Supreme Court that: (1) the Arabs no longer had any legal rights to the market and (2) that Israeli "trespassers" would be evicted from the site.

The Supreme Court, however, never ruled that the former market's Jewish population should be expelled from their homes.

The reason behind the attorney-general's decision is summed up in his own words: "The criminal must not be rewarded."

The criminal, in this case, is not defined as the Arabs who murdered 67 Jews, destroyed the Jewish Quarter, shot at Hebron Jews from the surrounding hills and killed Shalhevet Pass. Rather, the criminal is defined as Hebron's Jews, who had "usurped" the vacant buildings belonging to the State of Israel.

Following issuance of an eviction order, Hebron's Jewish community appealed to the courts, claiming private Jewish ownership of the property. An appeals committee of three judges ruled 2-1 that the land did legally belong to a private Jewish organization, but that the buildings legally fell within the jurisdiction of the Israeli government. Concurrently, two of the three judges ruled that the optimal solution to the problem was to lease the structures to Hebron's Jewish community.

The defense minister delayed executing the eviction order for over two years, due to security issues and other concerns. However, recently, following the successful expulsion of 10,000 Jews from Gush Katif and northern Samaria, the Attorney-General's Office has exerted tremendous pressure on Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz to execute the eviction orders and remove Hebron's families from the Mitzpe Shalhevet neighborhood.

Mofaz may be under the mistaken impression that the Supreme Court ruled that the structures must be evacuated. This is, as previously noted, not true. To the contrary, the easiest and most just solution, as recommended by the judges, is to lease the buildings to Hebron's Jewish community.

On the Shabbat of November 26, thousands of Jews are expected to arrive in Hebron to celebrate the annual Torah reading of Hayei Sarah commemorating Abraham's purchase of Ma'arat Hamachpela, the Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, some 4,000 years ago.

There could be no better way to affirm a permanent, eternal Jewish presence in Hebron than to officially proclaim the reclamation and rededication of Mitzpe Shalhevet. No doubt Abraham and Sarah would smile down upon us from the heavens above.

The writer is the spokesman of the Jewish Community of Hebron. This article can also be read at

Copyright 1995-2005 The Jerusalem Post -

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Murdered Twice?

Murdered Twice?
by David Wilder
The Jewish Community of Hebron
November 6, 2005

On March 26, 2001, an Arab sniper shot and killed 10 month old Shalhevet Pass. As a result of that murder, Hebron residents redeemed, renovated and repopulated Jewish property stolen from Hebron's Jewish community following the 1929 riots, massacre and expulsion. That neighborhood, "Mitzpe Shalhevet" is presently on the brink of obliteration, not by Arabs, rather by the Israeli government.

In 1807, Haim Bajaio purchased, on behalf of the Hebron Jewish community, a five dunam plot of land adjacent to the centuries old Jewish Quarter, for '1,200 grushim'. The deal was witnessed and signed by no less than 22 Hebron Arab notables. This property served Hebron's Jewish community and later accommodated the home and synagogue of Hebron Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Manni.

Following the Jordanian occupation of Hebron in 1948, the entire Jewish Quarter, founded by Spanish-Jewish exiles in 1540, was razed to the ground. Among the structures destroyed was the ancient Avraham Avinu synagogue. In the early 1960s, an Arab fruit and vegetable market was constructed on the property bought by the Hebron community in 1807. Following the liberation of Hebron during the 1967 Six-day War, these structures continued to function, having been rented to the Hebron Arab municipality by the Israeli government. The property contracts for these buildings expired in the 1990s, and the site was gradually closed over a period of several years, due to security precautions. It was finally shut down following an attempted terror attack: Arabs placed a booby-trapped teddy bear in a plastic bag in the market near the entrance to the Jewish neighborhood, hoping a Jewish child, finding it, would play with it and be killed in the ensuing explosion.

Despite numerous Hebron Jewish Community requests to rent the structures, they were left vacant.

Following the murder of Shalhevet Pass at the beginning of the Oslo War, Hebron children began utilizing the structures as a place to play and take cover during the constant shooting attacks from the overlooking Abu Sneneh Hills. Over a period of time, the Hebron community invested tens of thousands of dollars to convert the former fruit and vegetable stalls into livable apartments. Presently, the former 'shuk,' renamed the "Mitzpe Shalhevet Neighborhood," houses Hebron families, and a Torah study hall opened in Shalhevet's memory.

Four years ago, in response to an Arab demand to reopen the market, the attorney general's office notified the Israeli Supreme Court that: 1) the Arabs no longer had any legal rights to the shuk and 2) the Israeli "trespassers" would be evicted from the site. The Israel supreme court never ruled that the former market's Jewish population must be expelled from their homes.

The reason behind the Attorney General's decision can be summed up in his words: "The criminal must not be rewarded." The criminal, in this case, was not defined as the Arabs who murdered 67 Jews, decimated the Jewish Quarter, shot at Hebron Jews from the surrounding hills and killed Shalhavet Pass. Rather, the criminal, was defined as Hebron's Jews, who had 'usurped' vacant buildings belonging to the State of Israel.

Following issuance of an expulsion order, Hebron's Jewish Community appealed to the courts, claiming private Jewish ownership of the property. An appeals committee of three judges ruled, two to one, that the land did legally belong to a private Jewish organization, but that the buildings legally fell within the jurisdiction of the Israeli government. Concurrently, two of the three judges ruled that the optimal solution to the problem was to lease the structures to Hebron's Jewish community.

The Defense Minister delayed executing the expulsion order for over two years, due to security issues and other concerns. However, recently, following the successful expulsion of 10,000 Jews in Gush Katif and the Northern Shomron, the present attorney general, Manny Mazuz, has exerted tremendous pressure on Defense Minister Shaul Mufaz to execute the expulsion orders and evict Hebron's families from the Mitzpe Shalhevet neighborhood. Most likely, Mufaz is under the mistaken impression that the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the structures must be evacuated. This is, as previously noted, not true. To the contrary, the easiest and most just solution, as recommended by the judges, is to lease the buildings to Hebron's Jewish community.

Hebron's Jewish Community asks: Who is the criminal and who should be rewarded? Following years of terror, shooting attacks and blood-shed, will Hebron's Arabs receive a prize for their aggression? Will they be privileged to again witness Jewish men, women and children being forcibly evicted from their homes? Will Jews again be expelled from their property in Hebron, this time at the hands of the Israeli government? Will Jewish land again become Judenrein, at the initiation of the Israeli government?

A Jewish-populated "Mitzpe Shalhevet neighborhood," filled with men, women and children, families dedicated to redeeming the Land of Israel for the Jewish people, living on one hundred percent Jewish-owned property, - this is the just response to Arab violence, blood-shed, theft, and destruction, whose goal is the annihilation of Israel.

In the words of Yitzhak Pass, Shalhevet's father, "eviction of the Mitzpe Shalhevet neighborhood will be, for me, as if they killed my daughter a second time."

Will Shalhevet be murdered twice: once by Arabs and once by Jews?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Tears of anger and tears of mourning

Succot, October 19, 2005


When I received information about the shooting at the Gush Etzion junction last week, my first thought was, 'where is my daughter?' Ophira was in Jerusalem and frequently comes home to Hebron, 'tramping' or hitching in Americanese, from the Gush Etzion intersection. I tried calling her cell phone, but she didn't answer. I tried a few other numbers; they too didn't help. But few minutes later she called me back, asking what I wanted. "Where are you?" I asked, and she informed me that she was still in Jerusalem. After work she had spent some time with her best friend, Ortal, who lives in the southern Hebron Hills community, Carmel.


What did I want? I told her that I'd received a beeper message about a terror shooting at Gush Etzion and wanted to know where she was. That was the end of the conversation. From my end. But she started making phone calls too, trying to find out who might have been there when the shooting started. A little while later she called me back.


"Do you have any names?" I had heard names of a group of people, but wasn't yet sure who were the wounded and who were the killed. So I didn't respond. "Why?" "Because Ortal told me that her sister was injured. Do you know any more?"  When she told me her sister's name, I knew that she was one of those hurt, and had a suspicion that she had been killed. But I wasn't 100% sure, so I didn't say anything.


Ophira found her way to the Egged 160 bus and started home.


By the time she arrived, I knew, and she knew, that Ortal's older sister, 23 year old Kinneret Mandel, was dead, the victim of terrorist bullets. Standing next to Kinneret at the intersection was her newly-married cousin, Matat Adler-Rosenfeld. Matat was married to my son-in-law's cousin. She was also a victim, killed less than three months after her wedding.

Matat had been in the army and served in Netzarim when my son was there also. She was a 'tattzpanit' – a lookout, and knew the roads and paths in and out of Netzarim and Gush Katif like the back of her hand. When she concluded her service she assisted in getting hundreds of people into Gush Katif and Netzarim, protesting the planned expulsion. She was even arrested and jailed for her efforts.


When my son called to ask if I had details of the attack I told him, 'yes, one of the critically wounded is a friend of yours, who you studied with. He has a bullet in the stomach. And one of those killed, I think you knew her too – Matat." "What," he exclaimed, "Matat was killed, she's dead?"


My daughter Ophira got off the bus in Kiryat Arba. I drove up to get her. She got into the car and started crying. I think she cried all night. When we got home, she went into her room and wailed. It was a dreadful sound. A little while later I drove her out to Carmel, where Kinneret and Matat both lived. Kinneret had just finished her degree after four years of study. She lived at home with her family. Matat lived in a caravan home, right next to her cousin, Kinneret's sister, Ortal. Kinneret's husband is an officer in the IDF. I asked Ophira, "why did she live here, her parents don't live here and most of the time her husband's in the army?"


"Because she wanted to live close to Hebron, close to Ma'arat HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs."


I went with Ophira to Kinneret's home. The living room was full of people. Kinneret's mother Rivka hugged Ophira and they cried together. A few minutes later her friend Ortal came into the room, and the scene was repeated. Ortal, Kinneret's sister, is eight months pregnant. Her husband too is a soldier.


I stood there, looking at the people, Kinneret's father and brother, still in shock, not really believing what had happened. Her father, sitting on the couch, talking to no one in particular, said, "you never really think it can happen to you."


A little while later Ortal asked me to upload some pictures of her murdered sister from her camera into the computer, and burn them onto a disc, to send out to the news media.  I didn't remember ever having met Kinneret, but asked my daughter, "do you remember, when I photographed Ortal before her wedding…" and Ophira jumped, "Kinneret was there too."


And now, sitting here in the office, looking at those pictures – outside Ma'arat HaMachpela, Ortal, in a wedding dress, together with her sister, both looking so radiant, and knowing that Kinneret will never have her own wedding day, what can  I say, it's so sad.


Kinneret Mandel and Matat Adler-Rosenfeld were buried side by side in Jerusalem's Har HaMenuchot cemetery. Thousands attended, despite the fact that the Succot holiday was to begin only a few hours later. Usually, according to Jewish law and tradition, the deceased person's immediate family sit 'shiva' after the funeral, that is, they stay at home for a week, sit on the floor, and mourn their loved one.  It could be considered to be a period of adjustment, trying to get used to the fact that someone important in your life is missing.


However, Jewish holidays supersede mourning traditions, and 'shiva' is cancelled should it collide with a festival. Being that the Succot holiday began only hours after the girls' funeral, the families were able to sit 'shiva' for only a short time, a couple of hours at most. This too, is a tragedy.


The Succot holiday is usually extremely festive. Here in Hebron, thousands upon thousands of visitors flock to Ma'arat HaMachpela and tour the Jewish neighborhoods in the city. Jews in Israel and around the world spend the week living in 'Succot' that is, simple booth-like structures, four walls of thin wood or some kind of other material, with a roof of branches. This holiday is known as 'zman simchatanu' or, in English, 'our time of joy.' However, our sages teach us that should it rain during Succot, we are in trouble. The example they give is of a servant who comes to pour a drink for his master, but instead of accepting the cup, the master throws water in the servant's face. In other words, suring Succot, we desire to perform the mitzvah (precept) of sitting in the Succah, but instead, G-d pours water on our heads. This is considered to be a very ominous occurrence.


Today, the second day of the seven day Succot holiday, it rained in Israel, from all the way up north, through to the south. Here in Hebron it poured too. As the sages taught, having the glass of water thrown into our faces.


Maybe G-d is trying to tell us something. Almost 10,000 Jews, refugees from Gush Katif and the northern Shomron, are still homeless, almost forgotten, abandoned by their country, their leaders, their people. And the enemy, he who has killed, continues to kill, due to 'easing of restrictions,' allowing them to 'live better lives.'  


So what is it? Is He giving us a warning, telling us, 'your prayers on Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, the New Year and the Day of Atonement, they weren't enough. Words, supplication, they are fine, but deeds speak louder than words.'


Or perhaps, G-d is sending down some of His tears, tears for Kinneret, tears for Matat, tears for their families, tears for their unborn children, tears for people abandoned by their own brethren.


Or perhaps, both, tears of anger and tears of  mourning?

With blessings from Hebron.



The Jewish Community of Hebron
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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

No Forgiveness, No Pardon, No Atonement?

Erev Yom KippurOctober 12, 2005
Erev Yom Kippur. There's a flyer floating around titled, "No Forgiveness, No Pardon, No Atonement." Someone wrote to me asking, " I'm confused, I'm sitting in Jerusalem, and everywhere I go, people are talking about slichot, penitence, humility... and yet there are these messages saying Lo N'Shlach.. we won't forgive -- have we changed Jewish theology? Have we decided that we humans are to sit in the place of Dayan HaEmet (the Supreme Judge)? Where is the humility? Where is the ahavat chinam? Where is the whole idea of renewal and rebirth -- for all Jews, in fact, I thought, for the whole world?"
My immediate answer, emailed back: " It's understandable that you're confused. After all, you still have a home – a place to live. You're not living out of a suitcase in a hotel, without anywhere to go. You (I hope) have a job, clothing, whatever you need to live. Today, in Israel, there are some 10,000 people that are missing all those things – they were tossed out of their homes like rag dolls -– and the personal aspect aside, our land was taken from us and handed over to the enemy – BY THE VERY PEOPLE WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO PROTECT US AND KEEP OUR LAND FOR US. How are we supposed to forgive and forget – Did you know that families in a hotel in Ashkelon had their water and electricity cut off 3 hours before Shabbat – what are they supposed to do? That's part of it, in short."
I'd like to expand a little on this subject. A couple of nights ago Rabbi Avraham Schreiber, the Rabbi of Kfar Darom in Gush Katif, spoke here in Hebron. His topic was, Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur. Towards the end of his presentation he mentioned that there are those who ask, "well, did we win, or did we lose?  Of course we cannot say that we won. Here I am, a genuine refugee, no home, no belongings, no clothing, living out of suitcases in a hotel – everyone thinks, wow, living in a hotel, what a life? Well, I can tell you, everyone is climbing the walls  - the children don't want any more 'hotel food.' No, we surely didn't win. But there is no doubt that a tremendous spirit was born and revealed, and I am sure that we, that Am Yisrael, will return to Gush Katif. It is inevitable."
What does this have to do forgiveness? Aside from their own intrinsic importance, these words are my introduction to a short story Rabbi Schreiber told. In order to clarify this account, a few minutes ago I had a phone conversation with Rabbi Yakov Savir, a resident of  Elon Moreh in the Shomron. Rabbi Savir teaches at the Elon Moreh Yeshiva, Birchat Yosef and is father to nine children, the youngest of whom is a five month old girl.
During the expulsion of Kfar Darom, Rabbi Savir was one of the dozens standing atop the community synagogue, on the roof. His presence on the roof was a protest against the planned expulsion/destruction of Kfar Darom. He was, together with many others, arrested following the group's voluntary exit from the roof. However, Rabbi Savir was charged with multiple crimes, including being the 'ringleader' and 'organizer' of the entire episode. He spent time in jail and was finally released, but placed under 'house arrest' in Elon Moreh. Not too long ago, another hearing was held and the prosecutor offered to allow him 'community arrest,' i.e., he could leave his home, but not the community. There were, however, several conditions. One was a deposit of 30,000 shekels bond, and two, that he was forbidden to ….. teach Torah at the Elon Moreh Birchat Yosef yeshiva. Why? Because he is dangerous to the public and such a danger must not be allowed to proliferate his thoughts and ideologies. Therefore, he may not teach Torah at his yeshiva.
Shades of the Romans! I remember decrees like this, two thousand years ago, when Jews were forbidden from teaching Torah to the masses. Shades of the British. I remember hearing from Rabbi Moshe Segal zt"l, who dared blow the Shofar at the Kotel, at the Western Wall, following Yom Kippur in 1931, despite the British ordinance forbidding such a criminal act.  Shades of Ariel Sharon, whose ruling junta permits such atrocities, as forbidding a Rabbi to…. teach Torah?!
Only a government which expels Jews from their homes could stand behind such a wicked decree.
By the way, according to Rabbi Savir, the case against him is virtual and has no place in reality. The trial keeps getting put off and as of yet, no judge has been appointed to hear the case. They have a fat file, with absolutely no evidence, pictures, witnesses, or anything else. What's important: Rabbi Ya'akov Savir, a dangerous element to Israeli society, may not teach Torah in his yeshiva.
Story number two – short, not sweet, and overwhelmingly sad. Yesterday night a beeper message popped up on my screen. I am quoting it, as it came in. "An additional sacrifice of the Akeda (sacrifice of Yitzhak): Yehezkel Hazani, 52 years old, a resident of Netzer Hazani for 25 years, who was as healthy as could be, collapsed and died suddenly tonight, at the Netivot shuk. He leaves a wife and six children.
He had been, together with other Netzer Hazani refugees, living for the past two months at the Hispin community in the Golan. Today, he went south to attend an army ceremony which included his son. He was one of the pillars of the moshav, a farmer, who lost all everything as a result of the expulsion, and was transformed into 'unemployed.'
The Netzer Hazani community will pray this Yom Kippur that Yehezkel Hazani's blood be registered to the debts of the Shichmim Ranch (the Sycamore ranch – Sharon's home), in addition to the expulsion."
Yehezkel Hazani was buried at 10:30 last night in Rishon l'Tzion. May be memory be blessed.
During a recent class with Rabbi Dov Lior, a question was posed: If a soldier or policeman who participated in the expulsion requests forgiveness from those he expelled, must his regrets be accepted. Rabbi Lior's response was positive, if the regret is genuine. This is the way of Torah. However, Torah demands that a request for forgiveness not only be based upon regret at that past. It is also dependant on 'acceptance in the future.' In other words, anyone who was, in any way, shape or form, a part of the expulsion machine headed by Sharon, Mufaz and cronies, who has any pangs of guilty conscience, must not only say "I'm sorry" and request 'forgiveness.' They must also say, loud and clear, that they will never, ever again participate in such an event again, irregardless of orders, job demands, or anything else. Anyone who cannot or will not agree to this condition need not be forgiven.
In all honesty, I've heard of soldiers who are 'sorry' but haven’t heard of too many who've promised 'not to do it again.' And G-d forbid, if the present prime minister remains in office, those orders will undoubtedly be issued again, and again, and again, G-d forbid.
When I look back, reflecting on what was and what wasn't, I have a feeling, way down deep inside, that tomorrow, we all have to ask forgiveness, pardon and atonement, even those of us here in Hebron, and many others like us, who worked very hard to try and prevent the catastrophe. Why? Because, in the end, we didn't do enough, one way or another. Perhaps we didn't work together, the way we should have. Perhaps our decisions were wrong, strategically and tactically, maybe we didn't pray enough, I don't know. But I do know that if we had done enough, the expulsion wouldn't have occurred and Gush Katif and the northern Shomron would still contain Jewish homes, not ruins. Gush Katif would still be in Jewish, Israeli hands, and their synagogues would not be desecrated, filled with Arab-Moslem filth.
Forgiveness must be requested from all of those we let down, some 10,000 homeless, evicted from their homes, jobs and lives. We must ask selicha from Eretz Yisrael, our holy homeland, which had limbs torn from it. Picture your arms or legs being ripped off, without anesthetic. That's what happened to our Eretz Yisrael. And we must ask atonement from G-d, for letting it happen. For not being awake enough, for not being wise enough to see the light early enough to stop it, period.
And we must accept upon ourselves, that we will do anything and everything, to never ever let it happen again.
Maybe I'm wrong, maybe you did do everything you could. Well, I can only speak for myself, pleading and hoping that the words "No Forgiveness, No Pardon, No Atonement don't apply to me too.
Gmar Hatima Tova.
With blessings from Hebron.

Monday, October 3, 2005

On behalf of the Jewish Community of Hebron/The Hebron Fund, we wish all our friends and supporters a happy, healthy New Year
The Hebron Gift Shop - can still Help Gush Katif: (see below)
Hebron/Arutz 7 Commentary

The Winners and the Losers
by David Wilder
The Jewish Community of Hebron
Erev Rosh HaShana
October 3, 2005

It certainly has been a momentous year. As the year ends, we traditionally bless the New Year, saying, 'let's leave this year and all its curses, and welcome the new year with all its blessings.' Yet is seems rather difficult to escape the year's curses.

Yesterday morning I heard a horrific story on the morning news, which, had the facts been slightly different, would have been headline news for a week or so. A group of soldiers were participating in an IEF (Israel Expulsion Forces) course dealing with 'values.' The officer instructing the course approached one of the soldiers, a religious, kippa-wearing Jew, and handed him two closed plastic bags. The soldier was told to open the bags, dump their contents on the floor without looking at it, and stamp on it, rubbing it into the floor. The soldier did as he was told.
After a few moments he looked down at the floor to see what he was stamping on, and to his shock he saw that it was a 'tallit' – a four-cornered garment with traditional fringes, used as a prayer shawl during Jewish worship services.

Army spokesmen had different excuses: - the officer had apologized several times; there wasn't supposed to be a 'tallit' in the bag, rather an Israeli flag, which the soldier was to have seen and not stamped on, explaining why not, etc. etc.

Of course, this news feature received little attention – why should anyone care if a Jew walks all over a 'holy garment?' After all, the state of Israel allowed its enemies to desecrate holy synagogues following our abandonment of our holy land to Jew killers.

But can you image the tidal waves in the Israeli and world media, had the plastic bag 'accidentally' contained a Koran, and if the instructor had been a 'religious' Jew?

It hasn't been easy preparing for the New Year because many of the preparations aren't very festive. Here in Hebron we are trying to figure out how to stop the continuing injustices aimed at our Jewish community. It's no great secret that the Israeli left, backed by international organizations, has targeted Hebron. The 'Mitzpe Shalhevet' neighborhood, formerly the 'Arab shuk,' is in danger of destruction, despite the fact that it is built, 100%, on Jewish property. Tel Hebron, otherwise known as Admot Yishai or Tel Rumeida, is another favorite objective of our adversaries. All sorts of interesting international two-legged creatures can be seen frequenting the area, in an attempt to cause intentional provocations, which can then be used to besmirch the neighborhood's Jewish residents. A week or so ago Arabs placed two caravan structures on land belonging to the Hebron ancient cemetery, and have plans to build a school there. And this morning we were notified that tomorrow, the first day of Rosh HaShana, the Jewish new year, when annually all of Ma'arat HaMachpela is accessible to Jews due to the very large number of worshipers on this holy day, the Isaac Hall, Ohel Yitzhak, will be closed to Jews, because of the beginning of the Moslem month of Ramadan.
Happy New Year!

On the face of it, not an auspicious way to start the year.

This, of course, is only a partial, or 'local' list of 'problems.' The present administration has many more plans for all of Judea and Samaria, as a few of the Dictator's principal advisors spoke of last week. Disengagement, Stage 2 – expulsion of tens of thousands throughout Judea and Samaria, again, unilaterally, should the 'peace negotiations' reach a 'dead-end.'

It's also not easy to feel good about the New Year thinking about thousands of expelled, homeless Jews – like the families from Alei Sinai, who are living in tents outside Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, and who get an hour a day to shower in a small room, 'next to the gas station.' And the hundreds of families living out of their suitcases in hotels, without work, without homes, and right now, without a clear or happy future.

It all sort of wants to make you cry.

And I'm sure that many of us, you and me, will cry tomorrow, standing before G-d in prayer, not knowing why this evil decree was brought upon us, what we could have done to prevent it and what's waiting for us around the corner. It's very very difficult to understand.

So, we may have to cry, we may have to do a lot of soul searching, we may have to grasp for something to hold on to, to keep from total collapse, but all of this, it's not enough. There's something else we have to do. We must, we have no choice, we must get up, seek out all the energy we still have, look forward, and do everything we can, on just about any and every level you can imagine. We must work for Hebron, we must work for all Eretz Yisrael, we must work for all Am Yisrael, especially here in Israel. It certainly isn't easy – but we cannot get weighed down by the events of the past summer. Because that is exactly what our enemies want – be they enemies from within or enemies from without.

It was exactly five years ago when terrorists began shooting at us here in Hebron, shooting into our homes, cars, shooting at us in the streets, everywhere. Those attacks continued for two full years. And what about the people from Gush Katif, who faced mortars, terrorists and missiles for five years. They were offered tens of thousands of dollars to leave, to escape such madness and they refused. Not only did they want to stay, but they had to be forcibly pulled out of their homes.

In Hebron too, no one left. Rather, people moved in. We built a new apartment house, we have obtained other housing, and our population continues to grow, despite the adversity.

Why? Why such stubbornness, in Hebron, and in Gush Katif. Quite simply, this land is ours - it belongs to us. If we leave it, if we abandon it, we know exactly what will happen to it – and this is what we must try and prevent, as much as we can. If we run away, we are handing our enemies their victory on a silver platter.

So it is too with fiends such as Sharon and Co., who, it seems, have yet to finish what they've started. And if we have anything to say about it, they will be finished long before us. True, we did not succeed in stopping the expulsion and the destruction, and that failure will remain a stain on Jewish history for eternity. But it's not the first stain; in the past we've had to deal with worse, be it two thousand years ago or sixty years ago. However, even in the most difficult situations, the Jewish people have always pulled through, and so too will we today. The traitors of the past will always be remembered as such, and the traitors of today will always be remembered as such. The heroes of the past will remain heroes for eternity, and the heroes of the present will also remain heroes for eternity. The traitors, those who betrayed their beliefs, their essence, their land, their people, their G-d, they are the real loses, because they have disengaged from themselves, from what they are, or from what they are supposed to be. The heroes are the real winners because they have remained faithful to themselves, to their G-d, to their people, to their land, to their essence. Nothing, not eviction, not abandonment, not destruction, not even death, nothing can change that.

The ten thousand Jews of Gush Katif and the northern Shomron, they are the real winners, they are the 'people of the year.' And just as they refused to acquiesce, so too, the rest of us must not rest, we must not fall victim to depression, apathy, and, 'what can we do, we're only going to lose anyway?!'

I've heard of people who want to leave Israel because of the expulsion. Mistake! This is what our enemy wants. I've heard of people, once considering Aliyah, who are now reconsidering, because of the expulsion. Mistake! This is exactly what our enemy wants. I've heard of people, once activists, who have 'thrown in the towel.' Mistake! This is exactly what our enemy wants.

No one can promise us victory in all our worldly struggles, but we can be assured, that regardless of the seeming outcome, 'we' will always be 'winners' and 'they' will always be losers. For that is the essence of eternal Israel. We will never, ever, give up.

Shana tova, - Happy New Year.

With blessings from Hebron.

IF your heart is aching for the families of Gush Katif. Most of them will be spending Rosh Hashana in tents and other temporary residences. Those families went through so much sacrifice for the sake of our nation. The least we can do is let them know how much we care, respect,love and admire them. You can give them a hug of support by purchasing this package to be personally sent to families of Gush Katif. (the packages will be distributed by people who are in touch and know the whereabouts of all the uprooted families)
Remember these families are simply Tzadikim they went through so much for the sake of our nation the least we can do is show them our appreciation and concern.

Shana Tova SO GO TO

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Executioner


The Executioner
by David Wilder
The Jewish Community of Hebron
9/11 2005

The irony of it all. Sometime tonight, probably still 9/11 Israel time, and undoubtedly still 9/11 New York time, Osama bin Laden will finally receive the first installment of his due reward.

One might expect, that on such an inauspicious day, most countries of the 'free world,' i.e., those opposing barbaric Islamic terror, would make a concerted effort to express their repugnance to mass slaughter of innocent civilians, such as those who perished when the twin towers collapsed and the Pentagon was bombed, four years ago. One might expect a unified show of disgust at the use of primitive butchery to make a political, religious, or economic point.

The last thing any normal person would expect, on such an ominous date, would be total surrender to terror. However, that is exactly what is happening. In the coming hours, the State of Israel is going to deal Arafat the beginning of his posthumous victory, and send strong signals to bin Laden that he's following the right track. The last Israeli soldier will leave the land once called Gush Katif, and all of Gaza, Israelrein for the first time in thirty eight years, will fully belong to the terrorists.

It has been reported that Neve Dekalim, z"l hy"d, will be called Arafat City. Who knows what will become of Kfar Darom z"l hy"d, Morag z"l, Netzarim z"l hy"d and the other communities. What is certain is that our enemy will have cause to celebrate, and celebrate big time, they will. Because Israel, the country of Entebbe, leading the fight against world terror, caved in. Israel collapsed. Israel acquiesced to the Arafats and the bin Ladens of the world. On 9/11.

It's mind-boggling.

It's even more mind-boggling that most people, intelligent people, around the world, haven't picked up the significance of the event. And the most mind-boggling fact is that not only the terrorists will be celebrating tonight. Jews, in Israel and elsewhere, and leaders of the 'free world,' will raise a figurative 'l'chaim' to Ariel Sharon's great courage and statesmanship. The same people who lambaste bin Laden, and who are investing millions of dollars to find and kill one of the most evil men ever to walk the face of the earth, will give credit to Osama's alter ego, thank G-d, dead and buried, Arafat. They both desired the same thing – the difference being that the former is smarter than the latter. But that makes no difference. Arafat and bin Laden represent exactly the same thing – kill, kill, and kill, and you will be justly rewarded. So it is written in the Koran. And if anyone thought it wasn't true, well, Israel is helping the world to believe.

Maybe, just maybe, we might not expect the rest of the world to catch on – after all, Islamic terror in the United State is only a few years old. It takes time for the truth to sink in. But Israel? How many people have died at the hands and bombs of our bloodthirsty neighbors? Obviously, not enough. We still haven't learned. G-d help us.

The past few weeks have been filled with finger-pointing. This one is guilty, that one is guilty, we should have done this and we should have done that. It's true; the events of the past year or so must be studied, analyzed, lessons learned and corrected, while getting ready for round two. But, somewhere we've lost track of the real villain, and it's really too soon to forget.

When my friend Noam Sudri was being expelled from his home in Kfar Darom, z"l hy"d, he asked the soldier pulling him out, "if you were given orders to destroy the Kotel – the Western Wall in Jerusalem, would you do it?" The soldier replied positively. So then Noam asked him, "and if you were given orders to shoot and kill me…?" The soldier said that he'd have to think about that.

The brainwashing involved in the destruction of Gush Katif and the northern Shomron is beyond any of our wildest imaginations. The following story, as far as I know, has not yet been publicized. The names and places are intentionally left out, for the benefit of the people involved. But, it is one hundred percent true.

A young Israeli officer, religious, from a community in Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza), was in a bind. He was ordered to participate in the expulsion, what should he do? Consulting with rabbinic authorities, who knew him and had taught him, the answer was clear: Disobey orders – don't partake in expelling Jews from their homes.

But, as an officer, feeling responsibility towards the soldiers under his command, he was reluctant to abandon them to their fate, without him. Recent events caused him to think twice, maybe, despite everything, he should stay with them. And that's what he did. With a kippah (yarmulke) on his head, in direct contradiction to all he'd learned and believed in, he participated in the expulsion process.

And then, students from his old high school, a yeshiva where he had studied, saw him, saw him not as an old friend or comrade, but 'one of them,' of the evictionists. They yelled at him, screamed at him, disgraced him. "How could you – how could you be ONE OF THEM?!

It was too much. The young officer couldn't take it, couldn't live with the incongruity, obeying orders or obeying G-d, responsibility to a squadron of soldiers, or a responsibility to the Jewish people, to Eretz Yisrael, to the Torah.

The young officer put his weapon to his head and fired.

This man, he didn't commit suicide. He didn't kill himself. He was executed. He was murdered, no less than thousands of Jews who have been slaughtered by Islamic terrorists. The only real difference is that all the others, they were killed by Arab terrorists. This man, he was executed by one of his own. By the one person who gave the orders, by the one man standing behind the brainwashing, by the one man who, himself, accepted responsibility for the destruction of Gush Katif, by the Prime Executioner of the State of Israel.

Today, 9/11, four years later, Ariel Sharon and Osama bin Laden are on center stage: Gentlemen, please take a bow.