Monday, January 3, 2011

Machpela miracles

Tevet 27, 5771, 1/3/2011

Machpela miracles

Over the past month, what I would consider to be three miracles have occurred in Hebron. I’d like to relate them.
The first happened on the last night of Hanukkah. Every night, at Ma’arat HaMachpela, someone was honored to
This is the aura of Hebron, the spirit of Machpela, the Divine essence of this holy city.
 light the Menorah. On the first night, the special guest was Knesset speaker Rubi Rueven Rivlin. On the last night, one of the army units serving in Hebron for five months was asked to attend the ceremony and have one of the officers do the honors.
After the group arrived and received a short introductory tour inside, one of the officers, a company commander with the rank of captain, stepped forward and said that he wished to light the candles. He told the people there that this was the first time he had ever visited Ma’arat HaMachpela. In addition, he said, coming from a secular background, he’d never before lit Hanukkah candles. Therefore, on this very special occasion, marking his first time at Machpela, he requested the honor and privilege of lighting the candles.
With genuine joy radiating from his face, he lit the eight candles and repeated three blessings. The first two are recited every night, for the mitzvah (commandment) of the lighting, and for the miracle that had occurred. But the third blessing was extraordinary:  thanking G-d for have kept him alive, for sustaining him, and for having brought him to this special moment.
It was a moment of tremendous spiritual uplifting.
The second miracle happened a couple of weeks later. By way of introduction: Hebron is plagued by numerous foreign organizations who flock to the city to help the Arabs, while simultaneously inciting against the Jewish community.
One afternoon two people visited my office, a male photographer and an older woman with him. She introduced herself as a research student at a university in Sweden, and was looking for information about Hebron. I queried as to exactly what she was researching and she replied that she needed facts about the pre-1929 Hebron Jewish community.
I decided to introduce her to my colleague Noam Arnon, who is more of an expert on this subject than I. They made an appointment to meet and a few days later she showed up at the office and sat with him for a couple of hours. After she had left I asked him how the session had gone. His answer was astounding.
Noam told me that actually this woman belonged to one of the foreign organizations in Hebron, caring for the Arab population. She had a feeling that perhaps it would be beneficial to speak also with the Jews in the city, but her superiors refused. So she decided to take matters into her own hands and made an appointment with us. After questioning Noam and hearing his responses, she literally had tears in her eyes. She said that there was, somewhere in her family, Jewish blood, and that his answers supported her inner feelings that in Hebron, the conflict between the Jews and Arabs contains more than meets the eye. She left our office telling him how important it had been for them to speak.
A few days later I met this woman at Ma’arat HaMachpela. It was difficult for her to speak, her voice choked and she seemed to fight tears. She thanked me so much for introducing her to Noam and for taking the time to speak with her.  When I offered to sit with her again she said that, unfortunately, she was leaving Israel that night, but was so happy that she had had the opportunity to meet with us and hear the other side of the story. When we parted she returned to offer a few more prayers near the memorial for Abraham and Sarah.
The third event occurred about a week ago. An American producer came in to interview me for a new movie. He was accompanied by three Israelis: a videographer, an audio man, and a third, younger person, driving and helping out. He seemed to be extremely tense. While driving into Hebron, calling me for instructions, he exclaimed, “I don’t believe I’m really here.” Later he declared that the group had to be out of the area before nightfall because, ‘Life is good to me, I like my life.’ In other words, ‘it’s much too dangerous to be here.’
The group had arrived late and the interview and tour lasted for a couple of hours, more that they’d intended. At about four thirty, outside Machpela, I told them that I had to go pray afternoon and evening prayers. When they asked if they could join me, I agreed and they followed me upstairs. Arriving, this younger man, never having been in Hebron or Machpela, searched out the Abraham room, and literally fell on the grating of the Abraham memorial, as if pasting himself to it. I had trouble believing that this was the same individual who was so uptight only a few hours ago. Also, it should be kept in mind that he is not religiously observant. But inside Machpela, he seemed to be in a trance.
Later, as they were leaving, he told me that, ‘I have to start coming here to Hebron.’ The next day, calling me, he told me that he wanted to bring a busload of friends into Hebron too.
This is the aura of Hebron, the spirit of Machpela, the Divine essence of this holy city. A couple of hours, a short tour, a conversation or two can and has changed people’s lives. We witness such occurrences all the time. Jews, non-Jews, people from all over the world.  Literally, Machpela miracles.

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