Monday, May 2, 2005

He Haita l'Rosh Pina

He Haita l'Rosh Pina
by David Wilder
The Jewish Community of Hebron
May 2, 2005


Passover is now behind us. The holiday was both relaxing and invigorating – a chance to spend more time with the family and more time with Am Yisrael. Here in Hebron, well over 30,000 visitors flocked to the streets, partaking in tours of Ma'arat HaMachpela and all the Jewish neighborhoods in the city. The pinnacle of Hebron's holiday came on Tuesday, when thousands celebrated the dedication of Beit Menachem, a new apartment building in the Admot Yishai-Tel Rumeida neighborhood. This structure, named for the Lubovitcher Rebbi, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shneerson zt"l, houses seven families and the Ohr Shlomo Torah Center.  Participating in the ceremonies were Rabbis: Mordechai Eliyahu, the former Chief Rabbi and Rishon l'Tzion, Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Hebron-Kiryat Arba, and Leibel Gruner, former secretary to the Rebbi. Speaker of the Knesset Rubi Rivlin, a staunch friend of Hebron and an unwavering supporter of all Eretz Yisrael also participated, and spoke not only about the significance of Hebron, but also of the vital importance of Gush Katif and the northern Shomron. Rivlin steadfastly opposes Sharon's plans to abandon these regions to our enemies.

The dedication ceremonies included an official introduction to the Tel Hebron Excavations, located directly under Beit Menachem. Fascinating artifacts, dating back over four thousand five hundred years – i.e., to the days of Noah, - were discovered during this archeological dig, some five years ago. Amongst the finds: a four thousand five hundred year old wall, a four thousand year old road and house, and wine cisterns only 1,500 years old. Archeologists also uncovered seals imprinted on pottery from the era of King Hezekiah, some 2,700 years ago, which had written on them, in ancient Hebrew, the word 'Hebron.'  After these seals were discovered the archeologists told us, 'if anyone had any doubts as to whether this is the authentic site of ancient, Biblical Hebron, those doubts have all been erased. We have positive proof that Jews lived here from the days of Abraham.'

Of course, celebrations could not have been complete without the semi-annual Hebron music festival, outside Ma'arat HaMachpela, where Israeli artists performed all afternoon for crowds of music-lovers.

However, this Passover, the limelight of activities was not only in Hebron. All eyes were on Gush Katif and the northern Shomron, the focal points of this spring's holiday. The tens and hundreds of thousands of Jews who flooded these regions with a massive outpouring of love and support, proved again that Am Yisrael is bound to its land with all its heart and soul. There were those who used these activities to eulogize the twenty six communities and their almost 10,000 residents, calling the events a kind of 'last hurrah' or farewell. But in reality, these outings were nothing of the sort. They were only a predecessor for what will occur should the Sharon expulsion plan actually begin. These hundreds of thousands, and many more, whose beliefs are identical, will take to the streets on the day these areas are declared 'off-limits,' and if, G-d forbid, following Tisha b'Av, the police and army should move in. The vibrant electricity that was in the air, the determination never to give up, never relinquishing our land, never to lose faith, to continue to grow and build, was tangible.

I had never before visited the Homesh community, located in the Northern Shomron. In truth, standing at the neighborhood's highest point, I could not believe my eyes. Looking west, the Mediterranean Sea clearly visible, only 30 to 40 kilometers away. From the top of Homesh you can see, on a clear day, from Netanya, via Hadera, to Tel Aviv and further south, to Ashdod. It is truly unbelievable. No, not the view – that too is breathtaking. Rather, what is unbelievable is that an Israeli prime minister initiated a plan to give this land, free of charge, to our sworn enemies. This peak is one of the most strategically important areas in Israel. It overlooks the entire coast. My host, Benny, who has lived there for many years, told us unequivocally, "Arik Sharon knows this land like the back of his hand – he knows exactly what he's giving them." Unbelievable. Only last week Ma'ariv internet [] headlined the fact that anti-aircraft and anti-tank weaponry has reached Judea and Samaria. Missiles knocking down aircraft landing or taking off from Ben Gurion airport is not a laughing matter. Yet in this morning's press, it was reported that Sharon is considering transforming the four north Shomron communities into 'camps' for the so-called 'palestinian police.' I guess that will be good training for them – looking out from the Shomron hills, down at the coast, planning their next terror attack, from air, land or sea.

I did hear one very interesting story which I feel almost obligated to repeat. A company (I don't remember which), after receiving the contract to evacuate all the material property belonging to families, offices, organizations, etc. as part of the expulsion program, concluded that they would need two thousand gigantic containers, utilized around the clock, in order to fulfill their 'mission.' The only company in Israel that could provide such containers is the Israeli shipping corporation, Tzim. When they met with Tzim executives, asking how many containers the company could provide, they were told, 'three or four hundred at most.' Shocked, they insisted that Tzim obtain all the containers they needed, but were refused. 'It can't be done – it costs too much money – we can't do it.'

So, if containers are out, what next? They then approached the largest trucking company in Israel and began negotiating with them for a huge fleet of trucks. When the trucking executives asked why they needed the vehicles, they were told, 'for the disengagement.' At that point the trucking company executives pointed to the door and said, "please, will the last one out please shut the door."
"Why, you don't want the contract?"
"Maybe you didn't hear correctly. The meeting is over."
"But why…?"
"The owner of this company made it quite clear – whoever lifts one finger to assist with the so-called 'disengagement' can start looking for a new job. Have a good day."
This morning Minister of Diaspora Affairs Natan Sharansky submitted his resignation from the government due to his opposition to the abandonment of Gush Katif and the Northern Shomron.  Though he has not ruled out leaving Gush Katif as part of a 'final status' agreement, Sharansky said, (as quoted from the Jerusalem Post), "Will we, by leaving Gaza encourage freedom of expression and a judicial system that protects human rights? Will the incitement in the Palestinian education system cease? Will the terror groups be dismantled? The answer to all of the above is of course, no."
In an interview with Army Radio Monday morning, Sharansky said,"I have always believed that the disengagement plan is a heavy price to pay and encourages terrorism."
He added, "A cabinet seat is not a job but a mission. When the only justification for the government's existence is the implementation of the pullout, I do not feel it is my mission."
Sharansky is to be lauded for his courage and honesty. Israel needs more politicians of such integrity.
I might add several quotes from Friday's Ha'Aretz newspaper: According to a senior-ranking IDF officer: We must accept, as a fact of life, that immediately after the disengagement the 'West Bank' will erupt in flames. We cannot allow the other side to have Kasam missiles and anti-tank weapons."
"Why don't officers speak openly about the dangers of eruption after the disengagement? When senior-ranking officers are asked about this, they usually tend to be evasive."
I began this commentary with the dedication of Beit Menachem in Admot Yishai. One of themes repeated by several of the speakers was from Psalms 118:22, "Even ma'asu habonim – he haita l'rosh pina," which means, "The stone which the builders rejected became the corner-stone." This verse can be interpreted representing many different events, but I think today, its significance is clear. This land, which some people have despised and rejected – this land is to become the most significant of all. Gush Katif, Samaria, Judea – the land unwanted by the builders – this land will be known as the cornerstone of Eretz Yisrael. 
With blessings from Hebron.

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