Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Next Week in Eretz Yisrael

The Wilder Way - Blogs - Israel National News

Nisan 14, 5770, 3/29/2010

Next Week in Eretz Yisrael

Please accept best holiday wishes from the entire Jewish Community of Hebron, including our Executive Director, Menachem Livni, Hebron Fund Director Yossi Baumol, Simcha Hochbaum, Noam Arnon, Avraham Ben Yosef, myself, and all the community.


Tonight we will begin celebration of one of the most important events in the history of the Jewish people, and in the history of the world.

This is why, on the actual eve of that earth-shattering event, year after year, we remind ourselves of our true identity, of our true purpose, of the true reason cause of our liberation. Not to live like Egyptians, rather to live as the opposite, as a People of G-d. This is the definition of Jewish education.

Perhaps the quintessential element of Pesach is the traditional 'Seder,' reading the Passover 'Hagada,' repeating the ago-old story of the Israelite's exodus from slavery in Egypt.

Many Jews, be they secular or religious, know this story almost by heart. Kids learn about it in all Jewish religious school regardless of denomination. Observant Jews recite remembrances of the exodus in prayers, three times a day. So why must we again repeat the identical story, year after year?

The answer to this question can be expressed in almost simple words: education and identity.

The Jewish people still do not understand, as a collective, who we are, what we are, and why we were 'created' as a nation well over 3,000 years ago. We still do not comprehend the major components of Judaism: Am Yisrael – the Jewish people, Torah, and Eretz Yisrael. These can be represented as the heart, mind and soul of our existence, without which, we have no existence.

Again, why do we lack this seemingly straightforward realization? And again, in one word: Galut – Exile – Diaspora. The past two thousand years have chipped away at our national identity, as water dripping on a stone, slowly causing disintegration, the water forcing a hole into the hard rock. So it is with our people. We have forgotten who we are. The exposure to foreign culture and more significantly, the enormous distance from our own culture has eaten away at our internal identity, boring a hole into our spiritual psyche, creating a vacuum, which in turn has been refilled with an alien ethnicity, as contradictory to our being as water is to oil.

The present presents an additional issue. We are as teenagers, slowing coming of age, pulled by two opposite axis' – we are beginning to return to our roots, yet simultaneously still being pulled by foreign influence, stimulus affecting our lives, individually and nationally for hundreds and thousands of years. This situation creates massive confusion, which can be easily defined as psychological insanity.

How can we regain our clarity, our peace of mind, our true national identity and with it, our true way of life? Commencement of such a project is, again, relatively simple. The direct opposite of the cause of this cancer: Aliyah – return to Eretz Yisrael, breathing the air of Eretz Yisrael, walking the land of Eretz Yisrael. Only when one escapes the physical and spiritual impurity of Galut, can a person begin to rid himself of the poisons invading ourselves for centuries.

And those, who for whatever cannot be here, they must immerse themselves so deeply in thought and action concerning Israel, that for all intents and purposes they are here – if not in body, in spirit. Until they can actually come home.

Only this will allow us, as a people, to return to ourselves, and to reorganize our thoughts and activities, rearranging our priorities, recognizing the wondrous reality of our national existence, and then, finally, acting as Jews, in our land, without any questions or hesitations.

What does this have to do with Passover?

According to Rav Kook, the exodus from Egypt played two important roles: First, it was a goal unto itself; liberation from slavery, both a physical and spiritual emancipation from a life and ideals which are the antithesis of Judaism. However, Rav Kook continues by explaining that the Exodus was also a means to an end; that aim being reception of Torah, and finally, fulfillment of that Torah in Eretz Yisrael, in Jerusalem, at Har HaBayit, Temple Mount, at Beit HaMikdash, the Temple. That is the genuine goal aspiration of the exodus from Egypt. Because only here, in Israel, can we really be ourselves.

This is why, on the actual eve of that earth-shattering event, year after year, we remind ourselves of our true identity, of our true purpose, of the true reason cause of our liberation. Not to live like Egyptians, rather to live as the opposite, as a People of G-d. This is the definition of Jewish education.

At the end of the Seder we recite, Next Year in Jerusalem, Next Year in the Rebuilt Jerusalem. But remember, there's no Mitzvah, no commandment, to wait until next Pesach Eve to come to Israel.

It can also be "Next Week in Eretz Yisrael."

Chag Sameach.


Remember: Wednesday and Thursday this week all Ma'arat HaMachpela is open to Jewish visitors. Thursday afternoon the Hebron Pesach Music Festival will take place in the Ma'ara Courtyard. Details here.

And don't forget:


Details at

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Moses Files

The Wilder Way - Blogs - Israel National News

Nisan 10, 5770, 3/25/2010

The Moses Files

Look every 'world leader' in the eye, the righteous and the evil, and repeat, again and again: I will never forsake my people, I will never forsake my land, I will never forsake my G-d.
It's well known that Jewish Torah study can be divided into several different categories, known in Hebrew by the first letter of each word, 'Pardes.' This relates to the 'simple' most literal meaning of Torah, through the most esoteric understanding, known as Kabbalah, or popularly, Jewish mysticism. Despite the growing popularity of the latter, even amongst non-Jews, in truth, very very few people can be called authentic Kabbalists, as genuine Kabbalah demands not only knowledge, but also an extremely high spiritual level, which few people ever reach.

For this reason, many Kabbalistic writings are extremely difficult to understand, and a massive amount of teachings are not even put down in writing; rather they are passed on from teacher to student orally, and are submitted only to those who are really deserving of this unique knowledge.

In addition there are a select few manuscripts which have been excruciatingly guarded over the centuries, viewed by the eyes of almost no human beings.

Being in Hebron has its advantages. I recently received one of the rarest manuscripts in existence, read it in one sitting, totally spellbound. I do not have permission to copy it for you, word for word, but I can repeat what I remember by memory.

The document is called 'The Moses Files' and was written some 3,300 years ago. The content is as follows.

Following Moses' first meeting with Pharaoh in Egypt, the enslaved Jewish Israelites began grumbling. Here the promised leader had arrived and guaranteed free passage from the hell they'd been suffering for over 200 years. They watched and waited impatiently, knowing that a major summit was in process, with the two leaders haggling between them.

Then, when the meeting had concluded, not only weren't they freed, but to the contrary, their conditions worsened. The Jewish Slaves Gazette, published by the Jewish Slaves Association, headlined: FAILURE! And the sub caption: Did Moses Blow It? Did Aharon Get the Words Right or Wrong?

An editorial demanded that Moses and Aharon be replaced with others, suggesting perhaps Datan and Aviram.

Moses, in an exclusive interview, suggested some patience, claiming that: "G-d will come through, just wait a bit. The best it yet to come."

The next few pages of the Files are illegible, but the next readable chapter starts with the word PLAGUES in huge letters.

As the plagues began, an hysterical debate began between various Jewish slave factions. Some people screamed to Moses, "What are you doing? - this is only going to make things worse! Do you have any idea what the repercussions of this terror will be?! We'll never get out of here! Not only with they throw the first-born into the river; they're going to kill all of us! Leave us alone and let us just continue to live!"

And so it continued, plague after plague, with Moses and Aharon occasionally having to take cover from those demanding, time and time again, that they be immediately replaced with new leadership. As the plagues became harsher and harsher, so too was the opposition to the leaders. The Jewish Slaves Gazette headlined: HOW MANY PLAGUES WILL IT TAKE TIL THEY UNDERSTAND? Of course, this question was pointed not at Pharaoh, rather at Moses and Aharon.

Moses, despondent, with little strength left, told Aharon that he was leaving for a few days to take a walk in desert and perhaps confer with the Almighty, in an attempt to decide what to do. He told Aharon to set up a meeting with the opposition that could take place upon his return. Then he took off, as fast as his feet would take him.

Moses walked and walked, losing himself deep in the desert. The entire time he never stopped talking, praying, pleading, with G-d to help him, to show him the way. "Should I resign, should I form a coalition with them and bring a few with me to the next meeting with Pharaoh, what should I do?"

Night fell, stars glittered and rays of moonlight shined down, illuminating the rocky, sandy terrain. And that's when it happened.

"Moses, Moses," the Voice called, "Moses, Moses." Moses looked up, and very nearly stopped breathing. The black sky above had opened up, and pictures started flashing before his amazed eyes. Not being able to speak, not being able to ask, yet the questions flew through his head: what am I seeing, who are these people?

The images were blurry yet clear at the same time. People, men, women, children, tens, hundreds, thousands of people, Moses felt like he could almost touch them, yet they flew past him so fast. And they all had one thing in common: they all stared at Moses, with a deep piercing look emanating from their eyes.

The words exploded from his mouth: "My Dear G-d, who are they, why are they looking at me like that?"

"Moses, Moses, look closely at these people, for they are your offspring, these are the Jewish people to be born on this earth through the generations, until the end of days. These are your children, the children of Moses, the children of Israel, My children, the children of G-d, who will fill the earth, bringing my message to all mankind."

"Moses, Moses, they are looking at you so intently, because they know that without you, they have no future, they will never exist.

"Moses, Moses, not only you, the physical Moses, but the spiritual Moses, who has complete trust and faith in G-d, to follow the letter and spirit of the law, to lead the Israelites out from the slavery of the wicked Pharaoh, to receive My Torah, to lead them to the promised land, to Eretz Yisrael." Because, Moses, Moses, if you don't have faith, how will they have faith, how will they survive?" You are their anchor, their roots, from you they will absorb nourishment for eternity. All future Jewish leaders will look to you, as the preeminent example of what Jewish leadership should be.

And Moses continued peering into the hole in the sky, seeing fire and destruction, exile, return and exile, wanderings through foreign lands, inquisitions, Holocaust. And the Jews just continued staring at him. And he saw Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, David and Shlomo, the Caves at Machpela, Rachel in Bethlehem, Joseph in Shechem and the Temple in Jerusalem. He saw the foreigners and the Jews, and the conflicts and the questions, the weddings and the funerals, the laughter and the tears, and the Jews kept soaring past him, eyes glaring into his eyes.

"My Dear G-d in heaven, what must I do, what must I do?"

"Moses, Moses, just do what is right, you know what is right, just do what is right, have faith, keep the faith, just do what is right…."

And the voice faded away. And Moses suddenly saw all the millions and millions of souls lining up, as a huge group, one after the other, all staring at him. And Moses took a deep breath, stared back and said, "Yes My G-d, I promise, I will do what is right, I will never let my People down, I will never forsake My G-d – I believe, I believe, I believe."

And that being said, all the millions of souls stopped staring and began smiling and cheering and reciting: We believe, we believe, we believe: we will never forsake our People, we will never forsake our G-d. Shema Yisrael, HaShem Elokaynu, HaShem Echad."

And the great window closed, and the sky blacked again, for a moment, and then it was morning, the light of day brightened the sky, Moses returned, and, well, the rest is history.

But it wasn't finished yet. There was one page left, I turned to the last page and could not believe my eyes:

"You, who are reading this today, must bring this to the attention of one Binyamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel, of the Jewish people:

Binyamin Netanyahu: do not turn your greatest victory into failure! Do not allow the Datans and Avirams of today to destroy your triumph. Stand tall, look into the eyes of your people, not only those living today, but those who have been Am Yisrael for over 3,300 years and those who will be Am Yisrael for the next thousands of years, and say to them: I will never forsake my people, I will never forsake my land, I will never forsake my G-d.

Look every 'world leader' in the eye, the righteous and the evil, and repeat, again and again: I will never forsake my people, I will never forsake my land, I will never forsake my G-d.

I will not forsake Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah, Joseph, David and Shlomo, I will not forsake the Jews of all generations. I will not forsake Hebron, I will not forsake, Tel Aviv or Beer Sheva, I will not forsake Haifa, I will not forsake Yerushalayim, I will never forsake Eretz Yisrael.

Binyamin Netanyahu, You will believe, the people will believe and you will all be privileged to see and witness the great Hand of G-d, as did Moses, so many years ago.

So end The Moses Files.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

No to Pharaoh Obama’s servitude-Yes: freedom&liberation

The Wilder Way - Blogs - Israel National News

Nisan 4, 5770, 3/19/2010

No to Pharaoh Obama’s servitude-Yes: freedom&liberation

The headlines read as follows: Near Lynch in Hevron; Soldiers Blame Orders (Israelnationalnews); IDF troops assaulted after wandering into Hebron's Arab area (Haaretz); Commander's error prompts Hebron humiliation (ynetnews); Those are the Israeli headlines.
What happened in Hebron yesterday can surely be defined, as above, as humiliation. But it is much more than that. It is a “Chilul HaShem” or in English, a desecration of G-d’s name. A supreme goal of a Jew is “Kiddush HaShem,” meaning to sanctify G-d’s name. Yesterday’s events were the direct opposite.

Netanyahu’s visit in Washington next week will undoubtedly be a gruesome labyrinth-like obstacle course

Soldiers stationed in Hebron can frequently be seen ‘running in the streets,’ i.e., keeping in shape, running, stretching and exercising. Late yesterday afternoon a group of soldiers left the ‘normal’ running area and found themselves in one of the “other” neighborhoods of the city, still occupied only by Arabs, still without any Jewish representation. One of the soldiers, not sure where they were, asked a local resident how to get back to the “Jewish area.” That ‘friendly Arab’ pointed in the opposite direction from where they needed to go, and the group found themselves lost, deep in Hebron. Due to the fact that they were exercising, only one of the soldiers was carrying a weapon.
Before they knew it, the group was surrounded by a large group of Arabs, who began screaming, pushing and throwing rocks. The one soldier with ammunition feared to use it; orders prevent a weapon from being used without explicit permission from higher ranking officers, unless it’s really a case of ‘do or die.’ The soldiers, after battling the Arabs in hand-to-hand combat, took off, fleeing on foot, until finding their way out, and reaching the ‘Jewish’ part of the city.
Three troops were hospitalized as were three Arabs.
This is peace, goodwill, and a desire for mutual coexistence.
According to information I received from two sources, one of the conclusions reached by the Hebron military commander was to forbid running exercises at night anywhere in Hebron.
This is farcical. Israeli soldiers ‘running away’ from a group of attacking Arabs?! Israeli soldiers attacked because they were on the ‘wrong side of the city?!’ Israeli soldiers being forbidden to exercise at night for fear of entering the ‘wrong side of the city?!’ (Soldiers frequently exercise at night when it’s cooler outside.)
What happens when Arabs come over to the “Jewish section’ of Hebron? They have access to about 98% of the city. In a small area closed off for security reasons, bypass routes are provided. The Arabs coming into the “Jewish area” aren’t attacked, kicked, threatened, beaten. They cross back and forth between the two sides of the city at will, without any problems. I’ve put together a short movie and photos showing Arabs coming over.

If I were making the decisions, I would demand that daily IDF exercise runs took place in the exact same area where the soldiers were attacked yesterday, providing 'extra security,’ should it be deemed necessary. I would also make efforts to find the attackers and deal with them accordingly. It is unthinkable that Israeli soldiers are so attacked, without any IDF response.
Of course, the best response would be to rejoin the ‘two sides of Hebron,’ and immediately move Jews into all neighborhoods of the city, integrating Hebron and removing the humiliation of Jews being found ‘in the wrong place.’ Yet it seems such a solution will take some time to be implemented.
Unfortunately, such incidents are not, at present, an exception to the rule. Yesterday also, Arabs hurled rocks and bottles at Beit Hadassah. The IDF response was negligible. A neighbor of mine, who witnessed the attacks, told me that at one point soldiers in the area put their heads down and did not respond when rocks were thrown at them. The nauseating account of a soldier stationed in Hebron appeared on earlier today, in which he describes how the IDF’s hands are literally tied – they are forbidden from taking any actions, offensive or defensive, without expressed permission from high-ranking officers, even while being attacked. In many cases patrols are told to ‘wait for reinforcements or get out of the area.’ Again, Israeli soldiers being ordered to retreat, to run away, in the face of enemy attack.
All this while the State of Israel is coming under international attack from all corners of the world.
What’s written in international press? “World powers demand Israeli settlement freeze. The Quartet of Mideast peacemakers “condemns” Israel’s East Jerusalem building plan. (MSNBC); Israeli settlements threaten world security. Israelis should work toward a government of national unity, and not one beholden to the extreme right -- whose policies threaten world security. (Christian Science Monitor).
These attacks, led by Obama, Biden, Hillary and Co. are aimed at forcing continued Israeli concessions. The Quartet’s goal is a Palestinian state within 2 years, thereby ending the ‘occupation…’ Netanyahu’s visit in Washington next week will undoubtedly be a gruesome labyrinth-like obstacle course, designed to squeeze him, leaving him with nothing, leaving Israel with nothing.
So far, even with criticism that can be leveled at the government, Netanyahu’s been holding his own better than might have been expected. He could easily have folded on Jerusalem, but is continuing to express Israel’s ancient, G-d-given rights to our eternal capital. Just as legitimate criticism is expressed when need be, I think, as the Prime Minister leaves for the United States, it is incumbent upon us to encourage and strengthen him, in an effort to prevent Israel’s position from crumbling within the walls of the White House.
Let’s all remind Bibi: next week, as we begin the holiday of Passover, we celebrate the liberation of our people from foreign slavery. Three thousand three hundred years later, let’s continue forward, in that same direction, and not head backwards, into Pharaoh Obama’s servitude.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Next year in…. - An open letter to Rahm Emanuel & David Axelrod

nThe Wilder Way - Blogs - Israel National News

Nissan 1, 5770, 3/15/2010

'Next year in….'- An open letter to Rahm Emanuel & David Axelrod

Dear Rahm and David,

I’m writing this as I sit and watch, via live internet, the ceremony marking the rededication of the Hurva synagogue in Jerusalem, in the area you would classify “east Jerusalem”, disputed territory, or perhaps, ‘occupied territory’ over the ‘green line’ adjacent to 'Temple Mount.'

Isn’t it time you left the White House and came home to your real home, in Israel, in Jerusalem

Before asking a few questions, I’d like to describe to you several men who took part in tonight’s celebration.

First, there is Reuvan ‘Ruby’ Rivlin, presently speaker of the Knesset. A seventh generation Jerusalemite, Ruby is a ‘Rivlin’ from both his mother and father’s side, descended from both Rebbi Yisrael Ba’al Shem Tov and the Gra, the Gaon, Rebbi Eliyahu from Vilna.

Rivlin, a seasoned politician, had trouble controlling his voice as he spoke, his words quivering with emotion, as he repeated the words of his great-grandfather, who spoke at the rededication of the destroyed Hurva shul a hundred and fifty years ago.

Also speaking briefly was former Prisoner of Zion, former minister, and present chairman of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky, who described how, in 1992, he convinced the entire Israeli government to unanimously approve reconstruction of the Hurva, destroyed by the Jordanians following their occupation of the Jerusalem in 1948.

But the man who most impressed me was David Rabinovitch, an Israeli Russian, who contributed heavily to the renovation of the Hurva. Rubenstein spoke briefly, albeit in Russian, and announced that he and his partners, whose financial fortunes built the Hurva, would participate in rebuilding the nearby Tiferet Yisrael synagogue, also destroyed by the Arabs during the War of Independence. These men, who grew up without any Jewish background, and who today barely speak Hebrew, are investing their life’s fortunes in synagogues, in Jerusalem.

And you, Rahm and David, what are you investing your lives in?

Rahm, it is said that you are the cornerstone of your boss’ policy towards Israel and the Middle East. Since this administration took office, you are quoted, time and time again, as forcing a ‘two-state solution’ on Israel. “Israel now faces a moment of truth – it can either acquiesce to international demands and in return have its most serious threats dealt with, or maintain the status quo and have those threats persist.” In other words, Israel’s future, as a state, and in large part, the continued existence of the Jewish people, is dependent on Israel ‘towing the line,’ obeying US policy, and acquiescing to US-Arab terrorist demands.

And David, just a few days ago you publicly turned Israel over your knee and paddled her, saying, "What happened there was an affront,…It was an insult. ... This was not the right way to behave.", of course, in reference to the announcement that Israel will continue to build in Jerusalem.

Is this the behavior of two good Jewish boys, who, it is said, love Israel?

Rahm, truthfully it’s very difficult to understand your actions. You belong to an orthodox synagogue in Chicago. You grew up in a Jewish home, with a strong affinity to Israel. Your father was born in Jerusalem and your uncle, for whom you were named, was killed by Arabs in Jerusalem. But you still support a position forbidding Jewish building in Jerusalem!?

And David, you too are no stranger to Judaism. Born on the Lower East Side in New York, you always knew you were Jewish. Yet you see fit to push your own people into security situations which jeopardize the continued existence of the Jewish State.

How is it that two men whose lives have always been saturated with Judaism do not comprehend simple truths understood by others who grew up in Soviet Russia, knowing almost nothing about their Jewish roots.? Even your names reflect your Jewish souls: David – dating back to King David – the eternal King of Israel; and Rahm – meaning ‘high,’ hinting at the Creator, and in your case, a form of the word Rachamim, meaning mercy. Upon who do you have mercy, Mr. Emanuel? Perhaps both of you should repudiate your names, changing them, as did Hellenistic Jews in Israel during the time of Greek occupation of Israel. How can you carry such “Jewish names’ yet, at the same time, assist in pushing your people to the brink?

I have one other question for both of you men. Tonight marks the first day of the new month of Nisan, the month of Geula, of redemption from Egypt. In exactly two weeks we will begin the Passover holiday, commencing with the Seder, the first Pesach meal, when we relate the story of the Jews' Exodus from Egypt.

It is said that last year, both of you were invited to the President’s Passover Seder, but skipped it, preferring to eat Matza with your families, at home. Very touching. But why?

What I really want to know is not how you begin your family Seder, rather, how you end it. Normally, Jews finish the night’s ceremony declaring “Next year in Jerusalem” or Next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem.”

Rahm Emanual and David Axelrod:







Isn’t it time you left the White House and came home to your real home, in Israel, in Jerusalem where you too can stand proudly at the Kotel and recite, as Jews have for eternity "Next year in [Jewish] Jerusalem"

Monday, March 15, 2010

"Baruch Dayan HaEmet: Izzie Kaplan z'l

Baruch Dayan HaEmet: Izzie Kaplan z"l

Hebron's Jewish Community greatly mourns the death of Israel (Izzie) Kaplan.

Izzie was a truly righteous Jew, who not only cared about his brethren in Eretz Yisrael, but worked tirelessly for Jews throughout Israel, be they in Gush Katif, Hebron, Sderot and other places in Judea, Samaria, and all over the country.

His passing is very sad, and on behalf of Hebron I want to wish the entire Kaplan family sincerest condolences.

HaMakom Yenachem Otchem b'toch shaar avlei Tzion v'Yerushalayaim.

According to a Toronto Web site, the funeral will take place at 12:00 noon in Canada today and in Jerusalem tomorrow (Monday, 29 Adar) at 11:30 at Shamgar, followed by burial at Har Hamenuchot.

The Shiva will be at the home of David and Tiffany Kaplan: Yehuda 196, Modi'in

May his memory be blessed.

B'sorot tovot.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hebron miracles abound, even in the Shomron

The Wilder Way - Blogs - Israel National News

Adar 24, 5770, 3/10/2010

Hebron miracles abound, even in the Shomron

Hebron is known for its miracles. If it weren't for G-d's Divine Hand watching over us, day by day, minute by minute, well, our situation here would probably be slightly different from our present existence.

But what also should be publicized is that these miracles don't only occur in Hebron. They also happen to Hebron residents elsewhere in Israel. I'd like to relate one of those, which took place a few days ago to a woman who grew up here in Hebron, one of 14 children.

Now a married woman with a family of her own, Yehudit lives in the Shomron community of Yitzhar. On Monday night she was driving home when suddenly she found herself heading straight into a tractor, blocking the middle of the road. The tractor, driven by an Arab, is suspected of trying to knock cars off the road. First it came into contact with a truck, and then aimed at a car. The driver managed to escape the terrorist's vehicle, but the tractor veered, and stopped in the middle of the road.

That's when Yehudit came on the scene. Seeing the tractor directly in front of her, she had no choice but also to swing left, avoiding the tractor, but heading straight towards a steep valley. Her car literally jumped over a guard railing and started plummeting down, tumbling four or five times as it fell. After falling about 8 meters, the car suddenly stopped, blocked by a large boulder. This huge rock saved Yehudit's life, because a continued fall would have taken her down another 80 meters.

Miraculously Yehudit suffered only a few bruises, and minor aches and pains. Her car, of course, was a total loss. But she, thank G-d, after a check-up, was able to go home, healthy, in one piece. It that's not a miracle, I don't know what is.

May the merits of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs privilege all of us to such Divine intervention, when we should so need it, whoever we are, wherever we are!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hebron Heritage: Past the seventh step by David Wilder

Hebron Heritage: Past the seventh step by David Wilder

March 03, 2010

It's difficult to know where to start: Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, King David, the Maccabees, Herod the Great, Bar Cochva, Rabbi Malkiel Ashkenazi, Menucha Rachel Shneerson Slonim, Rabbi Moshe Levinger, or perhaps my three month old granddaughter Hadar.
Actually, probably the best beginning is with Baibars, Sultan of the Mamluks in the middle 1200s. In 1260 the Mamluks conquered Hebron, expelling the occupying Crusaders. In 1267 Baibars barred Jews and Christians from Ma'arat HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron. This monument, considered the 2nd holiest site to the Jewish people in the entire world, remained off-limits to anyone not Moslem for 700 years, until finally, during the 1967 Six-Day War, again Jews accessed this most holy of places.
The history of Ma'arat HaMachpela is well known and documented. According to the holy Zohar, it was here where Adam and Eve, the first man and woman were buried. Called the 'entrance to paradise,' it is written that souls of the deceased travel through the caves of Machpela on their way to the next world. Thousands of years later the first Jew, the irrefutable revealer of monotheism, Abraham, discovered these ancient caves and purchased them for 400 silver shekels, as is recorded in the Bible. Here Sarah was interred, as were all the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, excepting Rachel.
Over the centuries Ma'arat HaMachpela was not only a place of worship. It was also viewed in visionary terms, a symbol of the yearning of Jews to return to Zion. So much so that the revered Jewish scholar Moshe ben Maimon, the Rambam, records in his introduction to the Talmudic tractate Rosh HaShana: "And on the first day of the week, the ninth day of the month of MarCheshvan, I left Jerusalem for Hebron to kiss the graves of my forefathers in the Cave of Machpela. And on that very day I stood in the Cave and I prayed, praised be G-d for everything. And these two days, the sixth (when he prayed on Temple Mount in Jerusalem) and the ninth of Mar-Cheshvan I vowed to make as a special holiday and in which I will rejoice with prayer, food and drink. May the Lord help me to keep my vows."
One needn't have been a religious intellectual to comprehend the essence of Machpela, or of Hebron. Writing in January, 1970, Israel's first Prime Minister, David ben Gurion records: "Three cities hold a great and unique place in the ancient history of our people: Shechem, Hebron and Jerusalem," and proceeds to detail the glorious history of Hebron, from the days of the forefathers, through the reign of David, who ruled in Hebron for seven and a half years before establishing Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jewish people. He concluded, "we will make a great and awful mistake if we fail to settle Hebron, neighbor and predecessor of Jerusalem, with a large Jewish settlement, constantly growing and expanding, very soon…Hebron is worthy to be Jerusalem's sister."
A journalist from a distinguished American newspaper asked me if perhaps it might have been wiser to allocate Ma'arat HaMachpela a government-funded budget without adding this site to the national "Heritage program." I responded, of course, under no conditions would this be acceptable. Why?
Following the beginning of violent riots in Hebron in reaction to Prime Minister Netanyahu's announcement, the former minister of information for the PA, Mustafa Barghouti visited Hebron. I asked him, on camera, who may worship in Ma'arat HaMachpela: only Moslems or also Jews and Christians? He refused to directly answer the question, finally saying that "G-d is everywhere; people can pray wherever they want."
Isabel Kersher, writing in the NY Times, quotes Zahran Abu Qubeita. the mayor of the Arab city Yatta, in the southern Hebron Hills as declaring, “[Ma'arat HaMachpela] is an Islamic site, not a Jewish one.”
These answers must be viewed not only in the light of present politics, but rather on the background of seven centuries of Jewish inaccessibility to the building atop the Machpela caves. And accordingly, Israel, at the highest levels, must express in no uncertain terms: Ma'arat HaMachpela, in the city of Hebron, is a JEWISH holy site. This does not negate accessibility to anyone and everyone, of any and every race and religion, to visit and worship here. However, first and foremost, the Jewishness of this site must be acknowledged.
Why do Islamic political and religious leaders refuse to accept any Jewish legacy at Machpela? For the same reasons they reject any Jewish birthright at Joseph's tomb, Rachel's tomb, and Temple Mount. In fact they renounce any Jewish roots in all of Israel, preferring to espouse the 'Palestinian foundation' of the land we know and call Eretz Yisrael. Of course, the easiest way to change history is to rename and reidentify such sites, as did the Romans two thousand years ago, when following destruction of the Second Temple and expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem, they renamed that city 'Aelia Capitolina' and changed the name of the entity known as Israel to 'Palestina.'
But history, in reality, cannot be erased, and truth will prevail. For should Hebron and Machpela be blotted off the inventory of Jewish culture and tradition, surely the rest of Israel will soon follow because all of Jewish history is enrooted in the heritage which began in Hebron almost four thousand years ago.
Hebron, 2010 has moved past the 7th step.