Kol HaTor Weekly
10 Kislev 5769
7 December 2008
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IN THE LIGHT OF THE RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN HEBRON
THIS WEEK’S FOCUS WILL BE ON THE HISTORICAL AND FUTURE SIGNIFICANCE OF HEBRON AS IT RELATES TO THE
RESTORATION OF THE UNITED HOUSE OF ISRAEL TO THE LAND PROMISED TO ABRAHAM, ISAAC AND JACOB.
ARTICLES ABOUT THE SETTLEMENTS IN HEBRON AND THE PURCHASE OF PEACE HOUSE:
Days of Jerusalem & Hebron
by Yossi Baumol
(Parts highlighted in blue by KolHaTor editor for emphasis.)
"When G-d restored the return to Zion, we thought we were dreaming." (Tehillim 126). It seems like a dream today, but people tend to forget the unbelievable power of the events of 40 years ago.
First of all, came the prophecies. On Israel Independence Day, 1967, weeks before the war broke out, two things happened which in retrospect were accepted by the people as prophecies of the great impending victory. In the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook gave his historic speech: "Where is our Hebron, where is our Shchem? That night, at the Israeli Song Festival, an unknown singer named Shuli Natan got up and sang for the first time what would later become Israel's all time favorite song – Naomi Shemer's "Jerusalem of Gold - Yerushalayim Shel Zahav" which stirred the hearts of an entire country with longings to return to Jerusalem's Old City and the Temple Mount.
Just three weeks later, Hebron, the Old City and the heartland of biblical Eretz Yisrael were suddenly and miraculously restored to an incredulous Jewish People.
The miracles didn't stop there. In the years that followed, the aftershocks of the war shook the very foundations of the Jewish people throughout the world, bringing about a phenomenal rebirth of Jewish pride, faith and confidence.
Economically speaking, Israel went from being a poor, third-world backwater country in constant recession, to today's economic powerhouse. (President Bush recently asked PM Olmert for advice on how to cut the national deficit!)
In Devarim 30, the prophecies of our return to the land and our return to our faith are intermingled, literally sentence by sentence. After the Six-Day War, these twin prophecies began to be fulfilled in tandem. The mass Aliyah movements – in the US, but even more so, in the Soviet Union - were born as a result of the Six Day War. The Teshuva movement, basically non-existent in Israel and in the Diaspora until then, flowered and grew at the same time. Suddenly, Jews in Israel and the Diaspora, where exhibiting unbelievable pride and self-sacrifice for the land and for the Torah.
Orthodox Jewry in Israel, which until that time was divided between the faithful Ultra-Orthodox who shunned public involvement and the National-Religious camp which served as the non-committed "caboose" of the Zionist Labor movement, underwent a deep and crucial transformation.
G-d's promise to Rachel Imenu: "And the sons shall return to their borders" came true along that very same road connecting Jerusalem and Hebron. Kfar Etzion and Hebron spearheaded the settlement movement. The initial Jewish settlement of Hebron at the Park Hotel, became the settlement movement's "Mayflower". Anyone who wanted to be counted as a settlement leader claimed to have spent that first Pessach in Hebron with Rabbi Levinger.
Why did the return to Jerusalem and Hebron have such a profound effect on the Jewish people? More than anyone else, Rabbi A. Y. Kook sought to teach us the religious significance of the land. His most basic teachings relates to the "mission statement" for all Jews, handed down to Avraham at the beginning of Lech Lecha. He explained that this mission has two basic stages:
1. Become a great nation.
2. Only as a great nation can we serve as a model and the conduit of blessings for the entire world.
Jerusalem represents stage
two – when all nations will unite in praise of Hashem.
Hebron represents stage one – the stage of nation building!
This is where our founding fathers and mothers made their homes and chose to be buried. This is where Chushim, the son of Dan, got the courage to stop Esau and chop off his head at the entrance to the Me’arat HaMachpela. This is where Calev went to draw the strength to overpower the ten spies who turned their backs on Eretz Yisrael. This is where King David went for the first 7 ½ years of his reign over the land. This is where the settlement movement was born after the Six-Day War. This is where the struggle for Eretz Yisrael is fought day in and day out with unending self- sacrifice and determination.
From the days of Avraham's first calling, described in Parshat Lech Lecha, down until the recent purchase of "Beit HaShalom", featured on the front page of the Sunday NY Times – Hebron is where we must look and go to build our nation. Hebron is the battlefront between the two major factions which the Nation is divided into:
Religious and Secular
Right and Left
Pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist
Pro- and anti-settlement of the Land
Pro- and anti-Messianic
(Mashiach ben David)
This is why the return of what some people consider "merely real estate" has had such a far ranging effect on our nation. Not only does the place have a special significance – the time does as well. It is no accident that these landmark events of nation-building – in 1948 and again in 1967 took place in the month of Iyar. Rabbi Chaim Falagi, a great 19 century Kabbalist wrote in his commentary on "Ethics of Our Fathers": "It is suitable that we read "Pirkei Avot" during Iyar, because the letters of Iyar stand for our Avot - Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov and Rachel...we should make every effort to give Tzedaka during the month of Iyar to the "Kupah" of Hebron and Rachel's Tomb."
Every Friday night, in Lechu N'rannena we quote G-d who says: "For 40 years will I struggle with that generation and I will say, they are a nation of confused hearts and knew not my ways". Although this passage in Tehillim 95 seems to refer to the Jews who left Egypt, it is interesting to note that it is written in future tense. Maybe this is somehow connected to the opinion brought in the Gemara – "the times of Mashiach are 40 years".
For 40 years, Hashem has been showering us with blessings – the burgeoning Israeli economy, the growth of Torah, the Aliyah movements, the Teshuva movements – all these blessings stem from the land and from its restoration to us 40 years ago. For 40 years, a "nation of confused hearts" refuses to see this and tries to give away the source of all our blessings.
Let us hope and pray that this stage will soon be over, that the lessons of Hebron will be learned, that we will succeed in building our nation as it should be, so that we can move on to the next stage, showering bounty and blessings on all the nation of the world - from Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Religious Persecution and the Israeli Settlers
Families Evicted from Hebron.
January 19th, 2006
(Parts in blue highlighted by KolHaTor editor for emphasis.)
Hello! This is Paul Billington speaking with you and bringing you one more edition of the Bible in the News.
There is a great deal happening in the News at the moment which can be directly related to Bible prophecy, and to what we call the “Signs of the times.” Iran, Russia, Europe, the Vatican and a lot of what is going on in the Middle East, and as always — especially Israel. It is all relevant. This week our focus will be upon the so called West Bank
— that’s the mountains of Israel, and what the Jews call Judea and Samaria. Having “disengaged” (as they call it) from Gaza and Gush Katif last summer, the Israeli Government is now moving its attention to the West Bank. Isolated settlements that are labeled “illegal” are slated to be demolished and the Jewish settlers to be evicted, just as they were from Gush Katif in Gaza.
At first sight this may seem to be a matter of internal politics within Israel — but if we look at the situation from a
Bible perspective we shall soon see that there is more to it than that. The Bible tells us that, in the latter days, there is to be a gathering of people out of the nations who will be located upon these mountains of Israel. You can see this clearly from Ezekiel 38:8 for example. In fact, all the prophecies of the Restoration of Israel which we find in Ezekiel emphasize this gathering on the mountains of Israel. Look at Ezekiel 34:13,14, “And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the
mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD.”
Now look at a relief map — and note just where the mountains of Israel are. They correspond more or less to the
West Bank, to Judea and Samaria. this includes places like Shechem (Near to Nablus), it includes the settlement of Itamar in Samaria — it includes places like Hebron in Judea, or Bethel (Beit-el) where about 1000 Jewish families have settled. It is, of course, a very dangerous area to live. One settler described the situation in these words: “You need a lot of faith here, otherwise you couldn’t last a second with all the dangers hiding behind every rock.” “This village is located near the bellybutton of the earth and we are here to assure that the bellybutton won’t be cut off from the body.”
That is an interesting description— and whether he realizes it or not, that settler is identifying his people with those who are spoken of in Ezekiel chapter 38. In verse 12 of that chapter you can read the words: “...the desolate places that are now inhabited... the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell IN THE MIDST OF THE LAND.”
Now some Bibles have a marginal note here, telling us that this phrase “the midst of the land” is translated from Hebrew which means “The navel of the Land” That’s the bellybutton!!
So the prophets tell us that there will be these settlements, or villages, here in the latter days. Now if we believe what the prophet says, it is hard to see how these settlers can be ejected from there by the Israeli Government and its army. A few of the settlements— maybe. But it seems that something must happen at some point to cause the Government to abandon the policy. These settlers who are given such a negative image by the media, are not the violent thugs that they are made out to be. Not at all. We have met and spoken with many of them. They are there— despite the dangers and the tragedies— because they believe the Bible’s promises. As one of them said (We quoted him already), “You need a lot of faith to live here”
Currently the Israeli forces and the Police are in the process of evicting 9 Jewish families from an area of Hebron. Now I have been to Hebron and interviewed the spokesmen for the Jewish community there— David Wilder — and today he is at he center of things there. He spoke of the situation there the other day, and you can see the deep division that is growing between the secular humanist part of the country, and the young religious settlers.
This is what David Wilder said:
“It is clear that the primary reason for the day's police show is overtly provocative. The police, arriving en masse, hope to 'be attacked' by the 'violent hoodlums', thereby providing an excuse to beat and arrest them. However, the kids are too smart to fall into the trap. The police experience only cold and boredom. Early evening: Most of the youth have decided to leave. The expulsion is still pending. According to sources within the government, it will not be implemented for at least a couple of more weeks. The kids can take a break and come back again in a week or so, if they are still needed. Many journalists asked: How can you put up with such 'violent hooligans,' in their words. The answer is very simple. These youth are neither hoodlums or hooligans.
Rather, they are some of the most ideologically motivated people in Israel today. These kids are true lovers of their land, of Eretz Yisrael. These youngsters are still crying the pain of expulsion from Gush Katif and northern Samaria. Their hearts are still bleeding the wounds of our land being abandoned to our enemies. They hurt the hurt of thousands of homeless Jews, who committed no crime but to live in Gush Katif.” I think that those words help us to understand the deep feelings that are here. People are hurt by the treatment that they are receiving. But the fact is that Bible prophecy IS BEING fulfilled here.
Take also the prophecy of Joel 3:1,2 “For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them
down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.”
The prophecy speaks of Judah and Jerusalem. That territory was taken by Israel in 1967, and it commenced a string of events that has brought forth hostility to Israel, and to the religious Zionists in particular. It will not be just Israeli solders and police who will come against these people dwelling on the mountains of
Israel — it will be ALL NATIONS! This will be the controversy of Zion that we read about in Isaiah 34:8. And it will not be a battle decided in favour of those nations; for this is the time when Israel’s Messiah will be revealed “in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those who obey not the Gospel of God.”
So it is with intense interests that we watch these events. There has to be a Jewish settler presence in the navel of the land, so it is difficult to see expulsions going very far. But how it comes about we do not know. We may be about to see a major development in Israel — and maybe in the entire Middle East. The details are not revealed — we just know that the picture given to us by the Prophets will gradually come more and more into focus — and so it is that we keenly watch the Bible in the News.
Life in Jewish Hebron
By David Wilder
March 25, 2007
(Parts in blue highlighted by KolHaTor editor for emphasis.)
the Jewish people have undeniable rights anywhere on earth it is in Hebron.
Hebron, numbered among the four holy cities (with Jerusalem, Tiberias and
Safed) is the first Jewish city in history. It is the place where the Jewish
national patriarchs lived and were buried. Their burial plot -- Ma'arat
HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs--was the first Jewish property purchased
in the Land of Israel, and one of the Jewish people's most impressive monuments
was built atop it.
The Jewish community in Hebron existed for thousands of years until it was brutally displaced in 1929--after Arab marauders murdered, raped and burned to death scores of Jews and dispossessed the community of properties that included hundreds of acres of real estate. Not surprisingly, after Israel's conquest of Judea and Samaria in the Six Day War of 1967, the restoration of Hebron loomed large as a goal for many Jews. In 1967 a group of religious Jews rented the Park Hotel in Hebron for the Passover period -- and refused to leave. Pressure grew upon a reluctant government, which then allowed the group to settle on empty land adjoining the city, which became Kiryat Arba. But the Jews of Kiryat Arba did not give up on their goal of returning to Hebron itself.
A tragedy paved the way for the renewal of Jewish life in Hebron. In 1975 a baby boy named Avraham Yedidya was born to famous Hasidic artist Baruch Nachshon and his wife Sarah, who were among the first Jews to come to Kiryat Arba in 1968. Three months later Sarah found her newborn baby lifeless in his crib. The young mother was beside herself. "Everything in this world has a purpose," she thought to herself. "What was the purpose of her three- month old son?"
Sarah Nachshon decided that Avraham Yedidya would be buried in the ancient Jewish cemetery in Hebron. The cemetery had been last used to inter Jews slaughtered in the 1929 riots in Hebron. It is minutes from the traditional graves of Ruth and Jesse and overlooks Ma'arat HaMachpela. Perhaps, Sarah thought, this was the purpose of Avraham Yedidya, to take part in a sad but vital part of renewing Jewish Hebron. After almost fifty years, the Jewish cemetery of Hebron would again be utilized as a Jew's last resting place.
Late in the afternoon the funeral procession left Kiryat Arba for the ancient Jewish cemetery in Hebron. Then, suddenly, the mourners encountered soldiers and roadblocks. "No, you may not proceed to the cemetery," the soldiers ordered the mourners, "the cemetery is off-limits. You must bury the baby in Jerusalem."
One of the car doors opened. A short woman stepped out, with a bundle in her arms. "Are you looking for me--are you looking for my baby? My name is Sarah Nachshon. Here is my baby, in my arms. If you won't let us drive to the cemetery we will walk!"
Men with shovels and flashlights, and women, Kiryat Arba residents, walked through ancient Hebron in the early evening. They passed Ma'arat HaMachpela. They passed the sheep sty atop the 450 year-old Abraham Avinu synagogue, left in ruins, destroyed by the Jordanian occupiers and Hebron Arabs. Blockades, set up to stop the crowd, were pushed aside. Senior officers gave orders over their walkie-talkies: "Stop them--don't let them proceed"--but the soldiers, overcome by the scene, radioed back: "We can't stop them. If you want, come here and do it yourselves." The procession continued, past Beit Romano, Beit Shneerson, home of Menucha Rachel Shneerson Slonim, granddaughter of the "Ba'al HaTanya," up the steep hill to the ancient cemetery.
Sarah Nachshon released the body of her tiny son and it was lowered into the freshly dug grave, only meters from the mass grave of the 1929-Tarpat riot victims. Mustering her voice, Sarah spoke: "Four thousand years ago our Patriarch Abraham purchased Hebron for the Jewish People by burying here his wife Sarah. Tonight Sarah is repurchasing Hebron for the Jewish People by burying here her son Avraham."
Four years later a group of 10 Jewish women and 40 children resettled Hebron, moving into the abandoned Beit Hadassah building, just minutes from the cemetery. One of those ten women was Sarah Nachshon.
What's it like to live in Hebron?
One of the most common questions
I receive, from journalists and tourists alike is: What's it like to live in
Hebron? What's everyday life all about? There is a stereotype attached to
places like Hebron, similar to the Wild West. In all honesty, it's generally
not like that. So, what is it like? Usually, life is a routine, just as it is
elsewhere in Israel and around the world. I can speak for myself and I think
this fairly represents most people here. I get up in the morning, pray, eat
breakfast, and then go to work. There are many men who arise early for prayers
at Ma'arat HaMachpela and then attend a daily Talmud class.
Each person has his/her own employment: there are men who study Torah in a yeshiva or kollel; a few men are sofrim (scribes); others work in some aspect of education, many here in Hebron or in Kiryat Arba. There's a doctor who lives in Hebron who has clinics around the county. We also have musicians, artists, nurses and office workers living in Hebron. Of course, during the day, the kids are in school, either in Hebron or Kiryat Arba. Those of high school age and above may study and live away from home, as is wont in Israeli religious society. After-school youth groups, clubs, library and homework assistance are all part of every day life.
Shopping, a post office, doctors and dentists, a medical center with up-to-date technology can all be found in Kiryat Arba. There are several supermarkets that are less than 5-10 minutes from our homes. Orders can also be given over the phone and delivered to our door. In other words, for the most part, it's not difficult to be self-sufficient within a radius of 10 minutes from our homes.
So when is life not so normal? One day last week my cell phone rang at about 4:50 in the morning. One of my colleagues was on the phone: Excitedly she said, "Get here fast, the police are here?" (In truth, not even my wife can get me out of bed so fast, especially at that time of the morning, but?)
And of course, as I write ( March 20), the Hebron community's purchase of Beit HaShalom (The House of Peace), between Kiryat Arba and Hebron, and our moving into the building, has radically changed my personal daily schedule and the lives of many others. [See: http://www.hebron.com/english/article.php?id=315] Many Hebron families have, as a result of the purchase, moved into the new building, albeit temporarily, in order to maintain possession of the structure. People are spending days and nights there, helping with necessary renovations. Hebron's Talmud Torah has started giving classes there. A neighborhood, where up until a few days ago Jews had no presence, is now thriving with Jewish life: men, women, many children and multitudes of visitors.
This kind of event generally does not occur elsewhere. In Hebron, this is the second time in a year that this type of 'adventure' has transpired. So in some ways it could be concluded that life in Hebron is quite different from just about anywhere else in the world. And of course it's not normal for your own government to restrict your movements and ignore your most basic rights in the city where you live. Today Jews are allowed to enter only three percent of the municipal area of Hebron. Yet thousands of Arabs continue to live in the Israeli zone. The Palestinian Authority is deliberately establishing institutions in this area for the express purpose of "strangling" the Jewish community by attracting masses of Arabs.
Although the 1997 "Hebron Accord" stipulated that Jews should enjoy total freedom of movement in Hebron and the right to visit and worship at shrines such as Elonei Mamre and the Tomb of Otniel ben Katz, its provisions are totally ignored. Jews find it virtually impossible to register title to land. In the past 20 years the Israeli government has issued permits for only three buildings. Offspring of the Jewish community who marry and wish to live in their community cannot do so--due to the racist Jews-only building restrictions.
Under blatantly discriminatory guidelines from the State Attorney's Office, the Israeli government uses law-enforcement as a technique to harass the Jewish community. The procedures require the police to invest unprecedented resources in personnel, funds and motor vehicles in order to monitor the Jews. As a direct result of this over-enforcement there is wholesale opening of investigation files for trifling offenses and inconsequential activities, often ending with acquittals or closure of files on technical grounds. This adds up to a grievous, ongoing blow to the personal freedoms of the Jewish residents of Hebron, coupled with cumulative damage in the form of files that besmirch the inhabitants with criminal records--files that would not have been opened anywhere else in Israel.
One last point: it is important to keep in mind that no one is being forced to live in Hebron. All the people who reside here do so because they want to be here. Anyone who wishes to leave, for any reason, can do so. However, most people stay, regardless of the difficulties and the 'abnormalities,' despite the terror attacks and murders that have claimed dozens of casualties in Hebron's Jewish community since the "second Intifada" that began in September 2000.
They remain because it is a privilege to live in Israel's first Jewish city, and to walk in the footsteps of Avraham and Sarah, and King David. Despite the problems, Hebron is our home, and we are honored to be residents of such a holy city.
Of course, there are those who would say that we are crazy for wanting to live here. So be it: Crazy or not, Hebron is here to stay, and so are its Jewish inhabitants.
Hebron’s House of Peace
(Parts in blue highlighted by KolHaTor editor for emphasis)
I am a resident of Kiryat
Arba, Israel, but this article is not about me. Rather, it is about something
“you American Jews” are doing that I am very grateful for. Everyone knows that
some wealthy Jewish philanthropists are buying up properties in East Jerusalem
and settling Jews there, by way of such organizations as Elad. Places where
this is happening include the Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood, the Muslim Quarter
of the Old City, and the City of David, which the Arabs call Silwan.
Dozens of Jewish families have been settled in East Jerusalem in this way. In each case, the wealthy philanthropists provide a large sum of money to the organization. Then, a go-between or “straw man” real-estate firm, often in Jordan, makes the sale and handles the change in title and paperwork. Secrecy is maintained until the Arab owner and his family can take their money and safely leave. If their Arab neighbors find out that they have sold their property to Jews, they are dead – literally.
Well, it turns out that many of the same wealthy American Jews who are doing this in Jerusalem are interested in doing the same in Hebron, and the last four years have seen three such sales. I briefly mentioned one successful sale in these pages during November of last year, at the Tel Rumeida neighborhood.
The most recent sale involves a property which the Hebron residents have named “The House of Peace.” The sale has been in the works for a few years, actually. It was an open secret to many people in Kiryat Arba that an enormous building on the road from Kiryat Arba to Hebron had been purchased for the Hebron Jewish community, although no Jews – or Arabs – were ever seen entering or leaving it. Any time we took the two-minute bus ride down to Hebron, we would pass it. It was hard to miss. Finally, about a month ago, Jews moved in, and the sale of this house is now in the news almost daily.
This sale is significant for the following reasons: There are two ways to get from Kiryat Arba to Ma’arat Hamachpela, at the northern edge of Hebron. You can walk down from one side of town or drive down from the other. The walking path and the road meet at a point close to Ma’arat Hamachpela. The House of Peace is located on the road, about 100 meters before the two meet. It is thus in a very strategic spot. For years, soldiers have maintained a post on top of this house, because from the roof you can see much of the road and almost all of the path.
It is also very large, 3,500 square meters in size – that translates to 37,674 square feet – meaning that once it is renovated, it will be able to hold dozens of families. It is a four-minute walk from the house to Kiryat Arba, and a two-minute walk from the house to Ma’arat Hamachpela.
Consider this: There are 6,500 Jews in Kiryat Arba. There are 120 Jewish families in Hebron. This house will increase the population of Jewish Hebron by 20 or 30 families, and begin to close the geographic gap between Kiryat Arba and Hebron. If Jews are allowed to stay in the house and renovate it, it will further the precedent of settling Hebron by way of private purchase, and will possibly lead to a much quicker rise in the Jewish population of Hebron.
The sale is very exciting for Jews concerned over Jewish growth in Hebron. When Rabbi Moshe Levinger originally led the political struggle for settling Hebron, he never intended to have 120 Jewish families in Hebron and 6,500 Jews outside Hebron, in Kiryat Arba. He wanted to settle thousands of Jews in Hebron itself, amidst the holy sites and historic locations of Hebron – Ma’arat Hamachpela, the Slobodka Yeshiva, Tel Rumeida (where Biblical Hebron was); Beit Hadassah, the properties of the Lubavitcher chasidim, etc. This sale could spearhead a major change in the way Jews are allowed to settle in Hebron.
The ideal situation would be for the Israeli government to turn Hebron into another Gilo, building thousands of homes and apartments throughout Hebron. Yet barring that happening, purchase by philanthropic American Jews is an alternative, if such sales are allowed to proceed. The legitimacy of the sale is recognized by the security establishment and the police, and even from some ministers and Knesset members of Kadima there is support for allowing the Jews to live there. Even Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, certainly not Hebron’s best friend, stated in a press release that the Jews have legal title to the building and cannot be considered “invaders.”
Leftist journalists can find no convincing argument to attack the sale. They cannot say – although they have already tried – “Guarding the house will take up the time of Israeli soldiers who could be occupied in other, more pressing matters.” How can they say that when the army has been sitting on top of this house for years anyway? Every tourist bus from Jerusalem passes by the house. They cannot say, “The house wasn’t really sold” or “The settlers lied” or “The money was paid to the wrong Arab.” That argument has been tried in the past as well. In this sale, every single “i” was dotted and every “t” was crossed. The entire transaction was actually recorded on video.
At present, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, a rabid leftist, is trying to find an excuse to throw the Jews out of the building before he himself is thrown out of the Defense Ministry and removed as head of his Labor Party in May. After his abysmal failure this past summer with the war in the North, he knows that his days are numbered and he is trying to show off what he can do, the way Olmert did at Amona. Peretz argues that no new home can be occupied by Jews in Hebron without his authorization, but a number of days ago, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made it clear that he is not in favor of an eviction, at least not right now. David Wilder, English-language spokesman for the Hebron Jewish community just told me that the Supreme Court has given the Hebron settlers 15 days to prove ownership, which they can easily do. After that, it will be much harder to evict Jews from the building.
Some people, even some religious people, might ask: Why is it important how many Jews live in Hebron? Why do settlers place so much importance on land? Here are a few thoughts on why it is important.
Hebron is the second most important city in Israel for the Jewish People. The Patriarchs are buried there. Ruth and Yishai and Avner ben Ner and Otniel Ben Knaz are buried there. Many great rabbis lived there and are buried there. It was, and remains, a holy city, where the people were chiefly occupied with Torah learning, and remain so today. It is a sister city of Jerusalem, with its own spiritual qualities, described in sefarim, and there should be many thousands of Jews living there. For us to concede our right to live in Hebron is to tell the world, “You’re right; our history is unimportant. We really don’t have any right to the Land of Israel, to Tel Aviv, to anywhere at all.”
During the past 30 years, since the first Camp David, and especially recently, with the Gush Katif expulsion, we have seen that concessions only lead to terror, and they cost thousands of Jewish lives. There are some people who say, “The settlers (or the religious Zionist parties) put land above people.” That is a bizarre canard. In one of my Chofetz Chaim translations, the Chofetz Chaim asks, “If you saw a lot of people about to eat poison, would you remain silent or try to get them to stop?” When the residents of Judea and Samaria protest left-wing political maneuvering, or rail against withdrawals, I think they are asking themselves the Chofetz Chaim’s question.
Exactly five years ago, Ariel Sharon took the army back into the large cities of Judea and Samaria, such as Jenin and Ramallah, which, in the framework of Oslo, they had left. Yet he did this not because the settlers wanted it but because the original removal of the army from those Arab cities had led to terror attacks in large Jewish towns such as Netanya and Hadera.
The Jewish community of Hebron called this new house the House of Peace. I think this is an excellent name. The more Jews settle in Hebron, the greater the chances, in the long term, of real peace. The more Jews are removed from Hebron, the more chance that it will take a war, fought by our own grandchildren, to put them back. Inevitably, one way or the other, a day will come when thousands of Jews will live in Hebron once more.
In the meantime, in 1979, there were zero Jews living in Hebron. In 1995, when the Rabin Government was about to throw the Jews out of Tel Romeida, there were 33 families. Today there are 120, not including the 15 families that have so far moved into the unfinished, unrenovated building called the House of Peace. Hopefully, some time soon, there will be many more “houses of peace,” and many more Jews living in them.
THE BIBLICAL HISTORY OF HEBRON THROUGH THE AGES:
Key events in the history of Hebron
A timeline of Jewish presence in Hebron, traditional burial place of the biblical patriarch Abraham:
1800 B.C. (approx.) — According to Chapter 23 of the Book of Genesis, Abraham buries his wife, Sarah, in a cave he buys in Hebron. The Bible says he and other Old Testament patriarchs and matriarchs are later buried there as well, at a site now known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque.
1000 B.C. (approx.) — The Bible's King David rules from Hebron before moving his capital to Jerusalem.
721 B.C. (approx.) — After the northern Israelite kingdom falls, Hebron remains capital of the southern Israelite kingdom of Judah.
701 B.C. — Judah falls to the Assyrians. Hebron eventually changes hands from the Babylonians to Persians and Romans.
638 — Arabs conquer the city, allow Jews to build a synagogue near Abraham's burial site. New religion, Islam, takes Abraham as the Prophet Ibrahim, ancestor of Muhammad.
1917 — After 400 years of Ottoman rule, Hebron and the rest of Palestine occupied by Britain.
1929 — Arabs, angered by increased Jewish migration to Palestine, attack Hebron's Jews, killing 67. The other Jews flee.
1967 — Hebron comes under Israeli occupation as Israel captures the West Bank from Jordan in Six-Day War.
1968 — First Jews move into Hebron, later settling in new suburb, Kiryat Arba.
1980 — Israel's government allows settlers to expand their presence in Arab area of the city after a Palestinian attack kills six Jews returning from prayer at Abraham's tomb.
1994 — Baruch Goldstein of Kiryat Arba shoots dead 29 Palestinians praying at the Ibrahimi Mosque over the tomb.
1997 — Under Oslo peace accords, Palestinian authorities gain control of 80 percent of Hebron. The rest, home to the settlers, remains under Israeli military control.
1999 — A monument to Baruch Goldstein in Kiryat Arba is destroyed by the Israeli army because it had become an extremist shrine.
2001 to 2004 — Violence between Jews and Arabs in Hebron intensifies during Palestinian uprising. Israel imposes round-the-clock curfews. Thousands of Palestinian residents and businesses abandon the Israeli-controlled sector.
May 2006 — Nineteen police and seven settlers are injured when police pull three Jewish families and 27 young sympathizers out of a three-story Palestinian home in Hebron.
November 2008: Forty years after first Jews moved into Hebron and pioneered the settler movement in the West Bank, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declares the policy to have been misguided and urges sweeping withdrawal.
ARCHEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE ABOUT HEBRON:
BY Rabbi Leibel Reznick
Despite the overwhelming evidence, why do some archeologists claim that Hebron was uninhabited during the times of Moses and Joshua?
The city of Hebron presents a unique problem to the Biblical archaeologist. Ancient Hebron, located a few miles west of the Dead Sea and about 20 miles south of Jerusalem, figures prominently in the Jewish Bible, mentioned more than 70 times. Hebron is known to be one of the oldest cities in the world. Josephus Flavius, the noted first century CE Jewish historian, stated that in his time Hebron was already 2,300 years old!1
The city with its rolling hills and vineyards is closely identified with the Patriarch Abraham. When Abraham's wife, Sarah, died, he purchased a burial site for her in Hebron.2 The tomb was located inside a cave that has been known through the ages as the Cave of the Patriarchs. Jewish tradition reveals that Adam and Eve are also buried there. Subsequent to Sarah, all the patriarchs and matriarchs -- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rebecca, and Leah were all buried there. Only Rachel, the second wife of Jacob, was buried elsewhere, in Bethlehem. During the reign of King Herod (first century, BCE) the Cave of the Patriarchs was completely enclosed by a fortress-like structure, still standing today.
The Bible tells us that during the journey of the Israelites through the wilderness to the Promised Land, Moses sent 12 men to spy out the land of Canaan. The last city the spies investigated was the city of Hebron. Outside the city was a valley in which grapes grew in huge clusters. The spies cut down one of the large clusters and carried it back to the camp of the Israelites.3
After the death of Moses, Joshua led the Children of Israel in a series of battles for the conquest of Canaan. The king of Hebron played a prominent role in the failed battle against Joshua.4 Years later, Hebron served as the capital city for the newly anointed king, David. For seven and a half years, Hebron was the political center of Israel, until the conquest of Jerusalem.5 Jerusalem then became the new capital, but reverence for Hebron, with its unique spiritual and historical legacy, was maintained, and remains so to this very day.
Hebron was first excavated by Philip Hammond of the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1963.6 Hammond's work was interrupted by the Six Day War in 1967. Because Hammond was called to Jordan to conduct a new expedition, he was only able to rewrite and publish a small part of his Hebron findings; the remainder of his notes were stashed in his desk drawer. The published works of Hammond told of Middle Bronze Era (Patriarchal Era, Abraham) finds in Hebron and a wealth of discoveries dating to the Iron Age, the era of King David. There was no mention of Late Bronze findings -- the time that Moses' spies were sent out to Hebron and the time of Joshua's conquest. Archaeologists hastily concluded that there is little doubt that Hebron was an inhabited city during the Patriarchal Era, in the time of Abraham. Likewise, there is little doubt that it was inhabited in the time of King David. However, there is a great deal of doubt if Hebron was inhabited during the time of Moses and his spies or if it was inhabited during the time of Joshua's conquest, calling into question part of the Biblical narrative.
A number of noted historians and archaeologists jumped on the Bible-bashing bandwagon and boldly claimed that Hebron was uninhabited during the Late Bronze age (1550-1250 BCE), when the incident of the spies occurred and was likewise uninhabited during Early Iron age (1250-1000 BCE), during which time Joshua conquered Canaan.7 William Stiebing Jr., professor of history at the University of New Orleans, writes, "The absence of Late Bronze Age remains at Hebron indicates ...that the Biblical accounts of those events are not historically accurate."8 His skepticism was shared by many other Bible critics, historians, and archaeologists.9
Is the skepticism of the academics warranted or is it possibly motivated by some hidden agenda? As we investigate, we shall discover that the aforementioned academics have made a total of six serious blunders.
Blunder number One: Hebron is not One Archeological Site but Seven
Hebron is not a single archaeological site, but rather it is a sprawling archaeological area consisting of seven distinct sites. They are:
1. Tel Hebron, also called Tel Rumeide, where Hammond conducted his excavations.
2. Haram el-Khalil, which includes the Cave of the Patriarchs and its surrounding area. Due to the reverence given to the site, no archaeological excavations have ever been conducted in this area.
3. The present-day city of Hebron. Since it is inhabited, very little has been done in the way of archaeological work.
4. Jebel Nimra, a site of known Persian-era construction. Recent archaeological work has been started there, but no reports have been released as yet.
5. Haram Ramet el-Khalil. According to local tradition, this is the site of the patriarchal Hebron.10 No archaeological work has been conducted there as yet.
6. Khirbet en-Natzara, a site known to contain artifacts11 that date back to the conquest era, but the area has not been excavated.
7. Jebel Batrak, unexamined.
The fact is that only one of the archaeological sites in Hebron, namely Tel Hebron, was partially excavated by Hammond. That no evidence of habitation was found coinciding with the epic of Moses' spies and Joshua's conquest is hardly convincing evidence that these incidents did not occur. Six out of the seven sites remain to be investigated.
It is known that ancient cities would move about, changing their location as the necessity arose. Ancient Dibon, in modern-day Jordan, is a classic example. Evidence of ancient inhabitation was found in two distinct nearby locations. At one time, the city was built high atop a lofty mound. After an enemy invasion, the rubble made it difficult to build atop the ruins, so the city was relocated at the base of the mound. That city too was invaded, due in large part to its vulnerable location. It was then decided to relocate to the top of the mound again. It is quite conceivable that the Hebron of the Patriarchal Era moved to one of the other Hebron archaeological sites during the Spy-Conquest era and still remains to be uncovered.
Blunder number Two: The Egyptian Amarna Letters correspondence between King of Hebron and Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten
We do not have to bother speculating whether or not Hebron existed in the Late Bronze-Early Iron Age. There is very conclusive evidence that it did. One of the more famous set of ancient inscriptions is known as the Egyptian Amarna Letters. They came to light through the peculiar serendipity that lies behind many archaeological finds. In 1887, an Egyptian woman was digging for compost near the city of El-Amarna, 190 miles south of Cairo. In the earth, she discovered some 350 small clay tablets with curious, wedge-shaped writing on them. Hoping to sell them for a tidy sum, she brought the tablets to several antiquities dealers, only to be told they were worthless fakes.
Many of the tablets were destroyed, yet a few specimens came to the attention of E.A. Wallis Budge of the British Museum. Almost immediately, he recognized them as genuine tablets written in Akkadian cuneiform, the language of Babylon, the lingua franca of the 14th century BCE. They turned out to be missives sent from various vassal kings to the 14th century BCE pharaohs Amenhotep III and Akhenaten along with copies of the pharaohs' responses. Amenhotep III and Akhenaten were Late Bronze Age pharaohs.
The Amarna Letters are, for the most part, diplomatic correspondences between minor kings and rulers from Syria, Lebanon, and Canaan and their Egyptian overlords. The letters show that, during the reign of Amenhotep III, Egypt had tight political control over Syria and Palestine, but that during the reign of Akhenaten, Egyptian influence was collapsing. Numerous Egyptian outposts were being overrun by invaders and the vassal kings and commanders were powerless to stop them. Chaos was mounting as kings were turning against neighboring kings; fortresses of former allies became enemy fortresses. There were numerous appeals to Akhenaten for help, but the cries went unanswered.
The pleas usually start with a groveling salutation. Typical of the Amarna Letters is this one, sent by Abi Milku of Tyre:
To the king, my lord, my god, my Sun: Message of Abi-Milku, your servant. I fall at the feet of the king, my lord, seven times and seven times. I am the dirt under the sandals of the king, my lord. My lord is the Sun who comes forth over all lands day by day, according to the way (of being) the sun, his gracious father, who gives life by his sweet breath and returns with his north wind; who establishes the entire land in peace, by the power of his arm. 12
There are ten surviving correspondences13 between king Shuwardata and Akhenaten.
Shuwardata was the king of the Hebron district, as he himself states in letter EA#281. After the required greetings to Akhenaten, Shuwardata writes:
My cities are rebelling against me... archers are needed... like in the city of Hebron... they trembled before the Pharaoh... I prostrate myself before the Pharaoh... know that the hostilities are great against me... send archers...
This translation and interpretation has been confirmed by the distinguished scholars W.F. Albright and James B. Pritchard.14 If there are correspondences between the king of Hebron and a Late Bronze Age pharaoh, Akhenaten, then Hebron must have been in existence at that time.
Blunder number Three: Along Egypt Trade Route in Early Iron Age
There is additional evidence that Hebron existed in the Early Iron Age (1250-1000 BCE), the era of Joshua's conquest. In the vicinity of Luxor, Egypt, is the great temple of Medinet Habu, built by the last great pharaoh of ancient Egypt, Ramses III (c.1175 BCE). It looks more like a fortified city, with numerous buildings, palaces, and temples. The largest temple is called the Mansion of Millions of Years of User-Maat-Re-Meriamum (Ramses III). More than 75,000 square feet of engravings and hieroglyphics cover its walls!
Some of the hieroglyphics record various trade routes that were used by the Egyptian military. A few of those routes were in the land of Canaan, and one in particular ran south to north, paralleling the western coast of the Dead Sea. It lists the cities, in their proper order, that were along the route. One of those cities is Hebron.15 If Hebron was listed in the early Iron Age as a city off a main trade route, it must have surely existed at that time. Needless to say, there would be no reason to record a landmark if it was no longer there.
Blunder number Four: Evidence Late Bronze Occupation in Late Bronze Age Tel Hebron
A major breakthrough in the story of Hebron occurred in recent years. Earlier, we noted that Hammond's excavation of Hebron started in 1963 was interrupted by the war of 1967 and not resumed. Much of Hammond's finds were not evaluated or published. However, Dr. Hammond encouraged his student, Jeffery R. Chadwick, to carefully examine the Hebron material and follow up with on site excavation. Not until September of 2005 were the results of his labors made public.16 Chadwick, who is presently a senior research fellow at Jerusalem's William F. Albright Institute for Archaeological Research, revealed that Hammond had indeed found evidence of Late Bronze occupation in six different areas of Tel Hebron!
Blunder number Five: Cyclopean (Megalithic) Walls at Hebron
During a new expedition in 1998, Israeli archaeologist Yuval Peleg found more than 50 burials with grave goods dating to the Late Bronze Age. Concerning Early Iron Age evidence of occupation, a great amount of pottery has recently been found, much of it in the conventional Israelite collared-rim style, typical of the Early Iron Age. The architecture and plastering techniques of the strata containing the collared-rim pottery was conventional Early Iron Age construction.17
As mentioned earlier, Hebron was one of the cities visited by the twelve spies sent out by Moses. According to the Bible, when the spies returned to Moses, they claimed ...the people who live in the land, are strong, and the cities have great walls, and moreover we saw the children of giants there... we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so were we in their sight.18
What led the Israelites spies to think that the land was inhabited by giants? Archaeology can supply the answer. The city wall and guard towers of Late Bronze Hebron were constructed entirely of huge stone blocks, some more than six feet in length weighing more than 10 tons each. These are called cyclopean stones, from the word Cyclops, the name of the mythological Greek giant. A tower that guarded the city gate, though most of its height was torn down, still stands 20 feet high. The original tower was probably about 60 feet in height. We can only imagine how high the city walls of Hebron were. We can also imagine what must have passed through the minds of the 12 spies of Moses when they first saw the mighty walls of Hebron. Surely, the walls were protecting the city from giants!
Blunder number Six: Late Bronze and Early Iron Age Artifacts at Hebron
As the Late Bronze Age was yielding way to the onset on the new Iron Age, the city wall and its gates collapsed. One of the cyclopean stones came crashing down on a house which had been destroyed by an intense fire. The fallen stones, the devastation, and the signs of conflagration during the early Iron Age testify to the Biblical account of Joshua's conquest.19 The evidence is incontrovertible. To say that no Late Bronze/Early Iron Age artifacts were to be found in Hebron is simply untrue. Yet, if there is so much evidence that Hebron was indeed inhabited during the era of the conquest, why do some archaeologists and historians still continue to claim there is no such evidence?
The present spokesman for the "non-inhabited Hebron" camp is Israeli archaeologist, Dr. Avi Ofer. He himself discovered pottery shards from the Late Bronze Age.20 Brushing it off as a quirky find, something that came from someplace else and did not originate where he found it, he vocally claims that the city was not inhabited during that era. Why would an archaeologist negate his own findings? Dr. Ofer is not only an archaeologist; he is also a leader in the Peace Now movement in Israel. This left-wing political organization believes in peace at any cost, favoring to give as much land as necessary to the Palestinians in return for promises of good behavior. Hebron, of course, is much contested in the current Middle East debate. Ofer admits that its importance is great, yet favors ceding it to, what he believes is, the soon-to-be country of Palestine.
Ofer has said, "Tel Hebron [the site of the Cave of the Patriarchs, which is sacred to all three monotheistic religions] is the second most important archeological site in Israel, second only to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. However, as unfortunate as it may be, the site belongs to the Palestinians." He therefore strongly opposes Jews living in Hebron,21 and gladly lends his academic voice to those who claim that Hebron was not among Joshua's conquests. Put quite simply, if the historical Jewish conquest of Hebron is discounted, then the Jewish claim to the area is not valid.
Lest you wonder how a scientist can recant the significance of his own discovery, it is important to understand that archaeology is not the exact science that laymen assume it to be. It is an interpretive art based on logic, deduction, and intuition. Tangible finds such as inscriptions, pottery, foundations of buildings, evidence of destruction must be given life and meaning in order to fit into an historical, social, religious, and economic context. This interpretation is where the true expertise of the archaeologist comes into play. But, like any interpretive art, it can be subject to political, social and religious pressures and prejudices from outside and from within academic circles. Adam Mikaya wrote in Biblical Archaeological Review,22 "As anyone who has made his living in academia knows, (archaeology) is a political jungle... Indeed, the higher stakes only intensify the political animosities."
nd, Hebron is a perfect case in point. Before the finding of concrete evidence, Hebron was flaunted as contrary to the Biblical narrative of an Israelite conquest of Canaan. With the discovery of artifacts in recent years, Hebron now boasts of incontrovertible evidence of the Israelite conquest. But we mustn't hold our collective breath waiting for the anti-Biblicists to admit their mistake. In the words of Jonathan Swift, "There's none so blind as they that won't see."23
1. Josdephus Flavius, Wars
of the Jews, book 4, chap. 9, para.7.
2. Genesis 23.
3. Numbers 13:21-24.
4. Joshua chapter 10.
5. II Samuel 2:11.
6. A very brief survey was conducted in the 1920s by Albright, but no excavations were carried out at that time.
7. See Charles R. Krahmalkov, "Exodus Itinerary Confirmed by Egyptian Evidence," Biblical Archaeological Review (henceforth referred to as BAR) 20, 1994.
8.William Stiebing Jr., Out of the Desert (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1989), .92.
9. Ibid. Krahmalkov. Also, Mazar, 177.
11. Based on pottery shards that have been casually found. http://www.arij.org/pub/Hebron-Profile.pdf
12. Moran, ed. ,The Amarna Letters, 233.
13. Amarna Letters EA# 271, 277-284, 290a. 14. James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1950), 487 note 13 and Lamoine DeVries, Cities of the Biblical World: An Introduction to the Archaeology, Geography, and History of Biblical Sites, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997) 114-115. See http://www.specialtyinterests.net/eae.html#281.
15. Jan Jozef Simons, Handbook for the study of Egyptian topographical lists relating to Western Asia. (Leiden, Germany: E. J. Brill, 1937), 164-169. 16. See Jeffrey R. Chadwick, "Discovering Hebron," BAR Sept/Oct 2005.
18. Numbers 13:28 and 33.
19. See Chadwick, BAR Sept/Oct 2005.
20. See http://www.hebron.edu/Magazine/Archive/M1_F2/5-26.pdf, p. 92.
22. Adam Mikaya, "The Politics of Ebla," BAR, Sept/Oct 1978.
23. Jonathan Swift Polite Conversation. Dialogue iii.
WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT FROM THE HOUSE OF EPHRAIM:
1:00 am Eastern
Excerpts from an article:
(Parts highlighted in blue by KolhaTor editor.)
By Mark Biltz
My name is Mark Biltz. My passion in life is to teach the Hebrew roots of the faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to Christians. We are here to strengthen the feeble hands and to bring the world into an acknowledgment of the One true God: The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I wanted to go to Israel, and I planned our two-week trip around this weekend almost nine months ago. Why? Because today, this Shabbat, the Torah Portion is Chay Sarah or the Life of Sarah from Genesis.
Last Thursday, my wife and I, along with another family member and a good friend, journeyed to Hebron to see the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. I knew this weekend there would be thousands of Jews in Hebron to honor Sarah's life. We beheld not only the past, but destiny unfolded right before our eyes that day. Little did we know the historical significance of the present events that would be unfolding right before us. The great secular minds of this day want to evacuate Hebron's "Peace House," a truly peaceful house in the heart of the Jewish community.
My friend who took us to the Cave of Machpelah knows David Wilder, the spokesman for the community. David allowed us to record him speaking to us as he poured forth his heart about the significance of the sights we were seeing. All of a sudden, he spoke in a deep, passionate yet very calm way, the great historical significance of the moment. Our video of him speaking could be one of the last, as at any moment the Jewish presence in a location where Jewish people have been for millennia could be over.
After taking us to the Cave, David took us to the tomb of Jesse, King David's father and the tomb of Ruth. He talked about King David ruling in Hebron, and then right before our eyes he showed us the steps leading up to the original gates of Hebron some 4,000 years ago where Abraham paid an exorbitant price for the title deed to Ephron the Hittite for that piece of property. I realized the significance of the small community of faithful Jews, who by living in Hebron are honoring Abraham and Sarah by the exorbitant price they are paying to remain faithful to Abraham's deed of trust. And this very weekend, the Bible records the bill of sale so for all of history it could never be in doubt. How ironic after paying an exorbitant price for the "Peace House" do we see this bill of sale being questioned. Sadly, it is being questioned by the very children of Abraham!
Then to our surprise as we were recording, David invited us past all the foreign press to come into the Peace House and videotape the building inside as he spoke his heart. So here is destiny as we are in Hebron, the week of the Torah portion being about the life of Sarah and the purchase of the cave and we are allowed to videotape the man whose passion is to actually be the spokesman for not only those who want to be faithful to the deed of trust but a spokesman for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob wanting people to take God at His word.
I couldn't help but think of the 10 spies who were full of unbelief:
Nu 13:22,23 And they ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron; where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were. And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs.
Nu 13:32,33 And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
Here, God took them to Hebron so they could see the three spiritual giants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and know the children of God are to be faithful to the covenant. And instead of being strengthened by the Heavenly Father and His children, the three spiritual giants in the Earth, they were afraid of a secular father and his three giants on the Earth! The same is happening today!
Remember what God told Moses:
Ex 3:5,6 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
It doesn't say: "I was the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. "
No, God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. I want the Jewish people to know today, on Chay Sarah, that Sarah Lives! Sarah Lives!
It is 3 a.m. in Israel as I write, and I want the Jews to know there are people behind you to support you. But more than that, know that the God of Israel is before you. As He told Joshua, be strong and of good courage on this day!
Chazak! Chazak! Chazak!
TEACHING ON THE PROPHETIC SIGNIFICANCE OF HEBRON:
Excerpts from an article:
By Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)
The Sages teach us that what Shabbat, Sabbath, is to time, so Eretz Israel, the land of Israel, is to space. The Shmita, or Sabbatical, year connects these two. Space and time come together in a Shmita year. The next Shmita year will be 5768. It follows that we should study Eretz Israel as we would study Shabbat. Lets look at Eretz Israel and its ownership. world is G-d's! He created it and gave it to those that He wants. He desired to give it to them, and He desired to take it from them and give it to us." -(Rashi quoting the Midrash)
Bamidbar (Numbers) 33:50-54 And HaShem spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan [near] Jericho, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places: And ye shall dispossess [the inhabitants of] the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it. And ye shall divide the land by lot for an inheritance among your families: [and] to the more ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer ye shall give the less inheritance: every man's [inheritance] shall be in the place where his lot falleth; according to the tribes of your fathers ye shall inherit.
Bamidbar (Numbers) 34:2 Command the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land of Canaan; (this [is] the land that shall fall unto you for an inheritance, [even] the land of Canaan with the coasts thereof:)
Since HaShem gave us this land, we must take possession of it. Even if today is not the right time to return to the land, we must have it in the forefront of our mind. “Wherever we are going, we are going to Israel”. The land of Israel is our ultimate destination!
“Returning” is what we do when we go up to Israel. “Returning” is what we do when we repent from our sins.
The parallel between Teshuva (or “return to HaShem”) and entering the Land of Israel is supported by the fact that Teshuva, from the root word meaning “return,” occurs in the Tanakh most frequently in relation to the Jewish peoples’ return to the Land of Israel. This teaches that entering the Land of Israel (aliyah) in its deepest sense is the ultimate manifestation of return to HaShem (Teshuva), it being the physical and spiritual entry into an entirely new state of being. With this perspective we can begin to appreciate what our Sages in the Talmud have told us:
Ketuvot 110b Anyone who lives outside of Eretz Israel, it is as if they worship idols.
The Torah begins with the account of creation in order to prove that the earth belongs to HaShem and He can give it to anyone He wishes. When HaShem makes a covenant with Avraham, He gives Avraham AND HIS SEED Eretz Israel. Now we know that his seed was not through Ishmael, but through Yitzchak:
Bereshit (Genesis) 21:12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.
HaShem said to Avraham: "To your descendents I will give this Land." (15:18) However, it is not clear who the descendents of Avraham are, Yitzchak or Ishmael? So the Torah comes to tell us that Ishmael is excluded from all that Avraham had, he received gifts instead:
Bereshit (Genesis) 25:5-6 And Avraham gave all (“kol”) that he had to Yitzchak. And to the sons of the concubines he gave presents.
Ishmael’s rights in Eretz Israel can be exercised when the Jews do not exercise their blessing of “kol”, clinging to HaShem. Thus, our struggle with Ishmael for the rights to Eretz Israel is not simply a physical struggle, but a spiritual one as well. It will be successful when we realize the blessing of spiritual connectedness that HaShem gave to Avraham, and that was transmitted to us through our father Yitzchak.
So we know that the promise is to Yitzchak and not Ishmael, but how to we choose between Yaaqov or Esav? And while it is possible to exclude Ishmael, since he is the son of the maid, Esav is different, as Malachi states:
Malachi 1:2 "Was not Esav the brother of Yaaqov, the word of HaShem, yet I loved Yaaqov."
Why was Esav excluded and the promise fulfilled only with Yaakov? This is because in the brit bein habetarim (covenant of the pieces), it says:
Bereshit (Genesis) 15:13-18 Your descendants shall be aliens in a land not their own, and they will serve them, and they will oppress them, four hundred years ... The fourth generation shall return here ... On that day HaShem made a covenant with Avram saying, "To your descendants I have given this land."
Thus, it is clear that the same descendants who will be aliens, and will descend to Egypt -- they are the very same descendants to whom the Land will be given.
"Because of his brother Yaaqov." Because of the debt of the decree, "Your descendants shall be aliens," which was placed on the descendents of Yitzchak. [Esav] said, "I will leave here, and I will share neither in the gift, that this land is given to him, nor in the payment of the debt."
Therefore, it says in the end of Parshat Vayishlach: "These are the chiefs of Edom by their settlements, in the land of their possession, he is Esav, father of Edom", and immediately afterwards it says: "Yaakov settled in the land of his father's sojourning", and the story of the descent to Egypt begins. The account of the exile was fulfilled only through Yaaqov, whereas Esav settled in his possessed land.
Only through Yaakov was the decree of brit bein habetarim, the covenant between the parts, fulfilled, and only through him was the promise of the land fulfilled.
Even though HaShem gave Avraham Eretz Israel, He did required Avraham to do his part in taking possession. In the war that Avraham fought with the kings of the world (Bereshit 14) in order to free Lot, Avraham became the owner of Eretz Israel because he defeated the kings who had previously owned it. Avraham defeated the kings of the known world. Avraham was the victor in this first world war and because of that victory he became the owner of the land of Israel. This manner of possession will be repeated by Avraham’s descendants in the days of Yehoshua.
In all of HaShem’s promises we see an element of human effort. HaShem requires that we do our part.
Those who follow events in Israel have noticed that the main protagonists have been waging war against each other in an effort to take possession of Eretz Israel. The descendants of Ishmael have been warring against the descendants of Isaac. It is a war between those who think they are the seed of Avraham and those who are the true seed of Avraham. It is was between the children of the bond woman and the children of the free woman:
Bereshit (Genesis) 21:9-13 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, [even] with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son. And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he [is] thy seed.
Why is "First" more important than the "Best"?
Bikkurim [first fruits], Bechor [the first born], the separation of the Priestly gift of challah, the first shearings of the wool, the first of the dough, the firstborn of man and animal, all have something in common. They all represent beginnings; they are all “Firsts”.
The Torah asks us to bring the first fruits to the Beit HaMikdash, the Temple. The Torah does not specify that we should "bring the best"; rather the Torah specifies that we should "bring the first". Likewise, we are not commanded to pick the best or the brightest son to be dedicated to the Divine Service in the Beit HaMikdash. We are commanded to devote the first son to that Service.
Why does the Torah insist on "firsts" and not "bests"? The reason for the preference for "firsts" is because the "first" sets the tone. "First" is the beginning, the foundation. It might not be so bad if a building has a flaw on the fourth or fifth floor, but a flaw in the foundation is very serious. The foundation sets the tone.
Each of the cities that we are about to examine is notable as a “First”. This suggests that they are foundational to the use of the land. Keep this in mind as we study.
There are three cities at the heart of our conflict with the goyim (nations – Gentiles). I would like to look at these cities that are at the center of this conflict. As we shall see, the fight over these three cities is a fight over existence. Somehow the Goyim, the seed of the bondwoman, realize that possession of these three key cities is intrinsically connected with their existence.
Now I would like to take note that there were three parcels of land, in Eretz Israel, that were purchased by the Patriarchs:
1. The Cave of Machpelah near Hebron where the Patriarchs and their wives are buried. This site was purchased by Avraham Avinu.
2. The field near Shechem where Yosef HaTzaddik is buried. This site was purchased by Yaaqov Avinu.
3. Har HaBayit, the Temple mount, in Jerusalem. This site was purchased by David HaMelech.
The Torah documents the purchase of the land for the tombs of the Patriarchs and the land that contains the tomb of Yosef HaTzaddik . The only other parcel whose purchase is documented in perpetuity by Scripture itself is the site of the Beit HaMikdash, the Temple, in Jerusalem. These three special places, in Eretz Israel, are mentioned explicitly in the Midrash:
Midrash Rabbah - Genesis LXXIX:7 AND HE BOUGHT THE PARCEL OF GROUND, etc. (XXXIII, 19). R. Judan b. R. Simon said: This is one of the three places regarding which the nations of the world cannot taunt Israel and say, ' Ye have stolen them.’ These are they: The cave of Machpelah, the [site of the] Temple, and the sepulcher of Yosef HaTzaddik . The cave of Machpelah: And Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver (Gen. XXIII, 16). The Temple: So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold (I Chron. XXI, 25). And Yosef HaTzaddik’s sepulcher: AND HE BOUGHT THE PARCEL OF GROUND.
R. Aharon Soloveitchik (Logic of the Mind, Logic of the Heart) calls this kind of acquisition "chazakah", holding. It comes from HaShem's commandment to Adam "to guard the garden and keep it". (Bereshit 2:13) This is the gift of reaching unto things through cultivation, work and dedication.
How tragically ironic it is that it is in regard to these very areas: Hebron, Shechem, and the Temple Mount, we are forced to stand up against the world to defend our rights of ownership.
“The entire war is based on who’s in charge of the holy sites. The Arabs sense that their life force comes from the Jews’ holy sites. That’s why their battles have always been focused on the tombs of the righteous, because these places nourish their life force. It’s no wonder that they hold fast to Kever (the tomb of) Yosef, Kever Rachel Imeinu, Machpelah, and most importantly, The Temple mount.” - Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh
Now these three cities Shechem, Hebron, and Jerusalem all share certain common features:
a. The three cities are located in the hill country.
b. The three cities lie in the center (east to west) of Israel. Additionally, Jerusalem lies in the center, north to south, of Eretz Israel
c. The three cities are situated in places of high temperature.
d. Each is associated with a “double”. Shechem is also called Dothan which means “dual wells”, Machpelah is a double cave, and Jerusalem is the double of the heavenly Jerusalem.
g. They were the only cities purchased for money.
i. All three cities were on the same trade route. “The Way of the Patriarchs” also called the “Ridge Route”
j. Each of these cities is distinctly associated with Avraham Avinu: Moriah with the Akeida, Shechem with his entrance to Eretz Israel, and Machpelah with his burial.
k. Each of these cities is distinctly associated with Yaaqov Avinu: Shechem is where Yaaqov entered the land when returning from Lavan and where he purchased the area of Yosef’s tomb, Jerusalem AKA Beit El with the ladder vision, and Machpelah as his burial place.
l. Each of these is the city of a king. Shechem from whence Avraham Avinu defeated the kings of the world and where Rehoboam was crowned king, Hebron where David HaMelech was crowned King, and Jerusalem where David reigned as king over all Israel.
n. Each of these places is associated with an altar. This indicates that each of these places was a place of worship and a place where our fathers expressed their gratefulness to HaShem. Curiously, each of these three is also associated with an altar built by Avraham.
As Jews, we believe that legally and morally according to our laws and history these places are part of our Jewish nation. However, this is not just an historical and religious claim, it also represents a value of "Shayichut Eretz Israel”; the connection to the Land of Israel.
When Avraham first came to the land, the Torah tells us where Avraham went:
Bereshit (Genesis) 12:6-9 And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite [was] then in the land. And HaShem appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto HaShem, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, [having] Beth-el on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto HaShem, and called upon the name of HaShem. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.
It appears that Avraham went first to Shechem, then to Jerusalem, and finally he went south to the area of Hevron. These three places seem to contain the essence of the land as promised to Avraham.
The three cities were purchased with money and provide a proof that they belong to the Jewish people. The purchase of land by Jeremiah, serves as a proof that the purchase of the land is inviolate and constitutes a firm link to the land for the purchaser and his offspring.
Each of these cities also symbolizes an eternal contact point that must be maintained or else we will have the appropriate problem:
(For the purpose of this study, we will concentrate on the application to Hevron – KolHaTor editor.)
Machpelah (Hevron) – The eternal contact point of our people to our fathers, our people, of the Jewish soul. Machpelah means “The Doubled One” and was understood to be a double cave.
Kiryat Arba = Hevron (from hibur = connection, because there the spirit connects with the body, the upper world with the lower.). Some say that the name Hevron means friendship. Hebron is the first location in Eretz Israel to be purchased.
Hevron is located approximately twenty miles southwest of Yerushalayim and lies about 3,000 feet above sea level.
The Gemara (The Gemara is the part of the Talmud that contains Rabbinical commentaries and analysis of the Mishnah – KolHaTor editor.) writes that Hevron is the rockiest place in Eretz Israel, which is the reason it was singled out as a place fit for burial. On the simplest level we can understand that as a place that could not be used agriculturally, Hevron was an ideal cemetery. However, the Gemara's comment can also explain how the body and soul, the lower and upper worlds, are joined in Hevron. Hevron is a place that does not support life, in a sense, removed from the material. As such, the body and soul of one who identifies with Hevron are closer together, serving a single purpose and leading a single life, the life of the spirit. In a place were material goals cannot be met, only those with spiritual goals will dwell, making Hevron a spiritual place, a joining of the lower world with the upper. Hevron is therefore a place of burial, a place to come to when the four elements re-separate, for even in life, it is a place close to death.
The name Hevron speaks of a connection. Burial in Hevron represents a connection to the living even in death. The essence of an ancestor is the fact that he has children. Everything a child is finds its basis in his parent. The link continues from generation to generation, such that every descendent owes his entire being to all those who came before. The Jewish people as they are today, and will be tomorrow, stand on the foundation laid by Avraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rivka, Yaaqov and Leah.
Thus Hevron replaced Gan Eden. In place of individual immortality came the immortality of a connection with the future, an immortality of the whole. Hevron is the place where the body and spirit join. Though the body dies, as long as the spirit, the ideas and values passed on to the next generation, endures, the man is still alive.
Hevron is the place where the lower and upper worlds join; the infusion of holy purpose into future generations unites them. The creation of life in the lower world, and the living of life in the lower world with an eye to both past and future, are together our means of spiritual fulfillment. They are the guarantee of our ultimate purpose.
It is for this reason that Hevron is considered the spiritual entry point into Eretz Israel.
The first use of the word Hevron in the Torah is found in Bereshit 13. This first use of Hevron juxtaposes the giving of seed with the possession of the land of Israel. The difference is that this passage specifically promises the land to Avraham – not his seed!
Bereshit (Genesis) 13:14-18 And HaShem said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, [then] shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. Then Abram removed [his] tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which [is] in Hevron, and built there an altar unto HaShem.
Shortly after Avraham reached the Promised Land, before he bought Machpelah, whilst Sarah is still alive. He built an altar in Hevron.
Later the Torah describes in painstaking detail how Avraham requests to buy the grave site at Machpelah, how the Hittites wish him to take it for free, and. when Ephron the Hittite finally agrees to make it a purchase, he charges Avraham the inflated and outlandish sum of four hundred silver shekels.
(In an extraordinary piece of arithmetic computation, the Arugat Ha-bosem proves that 400 shekel, the price of this grave site, was enough to buy 2.4 million square amot, based on the price of land given in Vayikra 27:16. In other words, there is four cubits, "daled amot" for 600,000 Jews.)
Why expend so much ink and parchment, the entire chapter 23 of the Book of Bereshit, over a Middle-Eastern souk sale? Moreover, what is the significance in the fact that the very first parcel of land in Israel acquired by a Jew happens to be a grave-site?
Bereshit (Genesis) 49:28-33 And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers in the cave that [is] in the field of Ephron the Hittite, In the cave that [is] in the field of Machpelah, which [is] before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a burying place. There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah. The purchase of the field and of the cave that [is] therein [was] from the children of Heth. And when Yaaqov had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.
Why did Avraham have to purchase Sarah’s gravesite? Why had he not purchased land during the nearly sixty years that he and Sarah had sojourned in the land?
Avraham and Sarah are semi-nomadic herdsmen because, notwithstanding Divine promises to the contrary, there is as of yet no Hebrew nation to settle the land. While associated with Canaan, their direct connection to the land is tenuous and fragile, because Avraham and Sarah personify the earliest stages of a new nation being born. Only one thing anchors them to this place, and that is the word of HaShem. Actual possession and settlement, the true possibility of a national destiny being realized, is for them far off in the future. For now, the land is firmly in the hands of the indigenous inhabitants, the Canaanites.
This trial is indeed a difficult trial. Avraham must wait till the death of Sarah before he acquires his first piece of the land.
Bereshit (Genesis) 23:4 I [am] a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burying place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.
A piece of land that serves as a family crypt is perhaps the strongest notion of being linked to a place that human beings recognize.
The family sepulcher expresses in very tangible form the intense connection to a land, a clan, and even a way of life. To be buried in a place is to be part of that place. What Avraham seeks to establish is not simply a cemetery, but rather an undisputed and irreversible foothold in the land of Canaan.
There is an interesting mystical aspect to the purchase of this fantastic cave. The Sages teach us that the Aishet Chayil, the woman of valor in Mishlei (Proverbs) 31, was Sarah! They say that the “field” she considered and purchased was Ma’arat HaMachpelah! Of course this presents a massive problem in that the Torah spends most of a chapter showing us that Avraham bought Ma’arat HaMachpelah. So how can the Sages attribute this to Sarah Imienu? The Sages understood that Sarah was alive even whilst she was dead. Somehow she and Avraham had become so united that she was still with him when he acted as her vehicle to purchase the cave. Thus it is called Ma’arat HaMachpelah, the cave of doubles. One of the pairs, one of the doubles was Avraham and Sarah.
According to our Sages, Adam and Chava are also buried at Machpelah, which was excavated by Adam:
Eiruvin 53a The cave of Machpelah. Rab and Samuel differ as to its meaning. One holds that the cave consisted of two chambers one within the other; and the other holds that it consisted of a lower and upper chamber. According to him who holds that the chambers were one above the other the term Machpelah is well justified but according to him who holds that it consisted of two chambers one within the other, what could be the meaning of Machpelah? That it had multiples of couples.
Since Adam and Eve were the first pair buried there, and therefore Hebron, where the cave was situated, bore the additional name of "Kiriath-arba" (= "the city of four"; i.e., of the tombs of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rivka, Yaaqov and Leah.
Midrash Rabbah - Genesis LVIII:8 SO THE FIELD OF EPHRON... AROSE (XXIII, 17): it had been held in low esteem, and now it rose, for whereas it had belonged to a man of humble rank, it was now the property of a great man. WHICH WAS IN MACHPELAH: this teaches that its value was doubled in the eyes of every person, for whoever was buried therein was assured that his reward was doubled and even trebled. R. Abbahu said: The name signifies that the Holy One, blessed be He, bent Adam double and buried him within it.
After Lot separated from Avraham, the second stage of Avraham's connection to the Land is established (the altar at Shechem was the first stage), again embodied in the erecting of an altar:
Bereshit (Genesis) 13:14-18 And HaShem had said to Avram, after Lot separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward, and eastward and westward. For all the land that you see, to you will I give it, and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, then your offspring shall also be counted. Arise, therefore, go about in the land, through the length of it and the breadth of it, for to you will I give it.” And Avram pitched his tents and came and dwelt in the groves of Mamre, which are in Chevron, and there he built an altar to HaShem.
Melech David (King David)
King David was anointed in Hebron, where he reigned for seven years.
2 Shmuel (Samuel) 2:11 And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.
The Zohar also speaks of this special cave at Machpelah:
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 3Ia (Num. XIV, 24). “Another spirit” signifies that Caleb separated himself from the other spies and went alone to Hebron in order to prostrate himself at the cave of Machpelah before the graves of the patriarchs; and Hebron was allotted to him as his inheritance, as it is written: “To him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon” (Deut. I, 36). And why was Hebron given to him? There is an esoteric reason for this, the same which also underlies David's connection with Hebron. For we find that when Saul died and David enquired of the Lord, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?”, the answer was that he should go up into Hebron (2 Sam. II, 1). Now, since Saul was dead and David already the rightful king, why did he not at once proclaim his rule over the whole land? Why was it necessary for him to go to Hebron and there become anointed as king over Judah only for seven years, not being declared monarch over the whole of Israel till after the death of Ish-Bosheth? Truly, the Holy One, blessed be His Name, had a deep purpose in this. The holy kingdom could not be fully established without first attaching itself to the patriarchs in Hebron. When that contact was established the kingdom was firmly erected with support from the world above, whose symbol, in David's case, was “seven years”. Seven being the number of perfection (connection), because it contains all. So when it is said of the Temple, “And he built it seven years”, the same perfection is suggested. Now, David desired to build the perfect kingdom here below as a counterpart of the Kingdom above; but before he could achieve his desire he had to acquire power for the task by attaching himself to the patriarchs for “seven” years. Thus only was he enabled to establish his kingdom in perfection, in the fashion of the Kingdom of supernal light: a kingdom never to be shaken. And, guided by a similar inspiration, Caleb also went to Hebron.’
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 39b As they thus sat listening to the master's expositions, they suddenly beheld smoke ascending and descending at a little distance, where there was a clearing in the wood. Said R. Simeon: ‘The ground has been heated by the light from above, and now this field emits an aroma of all spices, passing sweet. Let us remain here, for the Shechinah is present with us. It is “the smell of the field which the Lord hath blessed” (Gen. XXVII, 27).’ Presently he began to comment on this verse and referred to the tradition (cf. Midrash, Rab., Gen., LXV, I8; Zohar, Gen. 142b) that the “precious garments” which emitted a sweet odor when Yaaqov appeared before Isaac originally belonged to Adam, and in time came into the hands of Nimrod, “the mighty hunter”, and finally to Esau, who was also a hunter. ‘It has been remarked’, he said, ‘that these garments were made by the Holy One Himself (Gen. III, 21), by the agency of both Divine Names, TETRAGRAMMATON and Elohim, which is more than can be said for heaven and earth, which were created only by Elohim (Gen. I, 1). It is rather difficult to understand how they came to Esau. For in the first place we are told that God made garments for Eve also (Ibid.), and what became of these? And surely Adam and Eve would have been buried in them and not abandoned such a precious gift. The truth is, however, that no other human being ever wore those garments, which placed Adam and Eve on a par with supernal beings. And as for the “goodly raiment” which Rivka put upon Yaaqov (Gen. XXVII, I5), this was royal apparel of silk and gold, which it is usual to keep in perfumes, and this is what lsaac smelt, and he said, “See the smell of my son” (Ibid. 27), because he knew that the smell was so sweet on account of him. How, it may be asked, did Isaac know of “the smell of the field which the Lord hath blessed” (Ibid.)? From two sources, which are essentially the same. It says, “and Isaac went out to meditate in the field” (Gen. XXIV, 63). Why in the field? Did he not have a house or any other place in which to pray? The truth is that that field was actually the very one which Abraham bought from the sons of Heth, that field which was near the cave of Machpelah; and when Isaac passed it the Shechinah was present there and the field emitted holy heavenly aromas, and Isaac, recognizing the Presence, made it a regular place for his prayer. The second fact was that Isaac smelled the myrrh ascending from Mount Moriah. Thus, when Yaaqov approached him, the paradisiacal saviors brought back to him the recollection of the sweet odor he smelled in that field.
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin summed up the enigma of a grave in the best words I have heard:
“The nation which chooses to forget its past has abdicated its future, because it has erased the tradition of continuity which it ought have transmitted to the future; the nation which does not properly respect the grave-sites of its founding parents will not have the privilege of hosting the lives of their children and grandchildren. Is it then any wonder that the first parcel of land in Israel purchased by the first Hebrew was a grave-site, and that the fiercest battles over ownership of the land of Israel surround the graves of our founding fathers and mothers?”
The first use of “dust” defines what dust is:
Bereshit (Genesis) 2:7 And HaShem God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Man began as dust and man will return to dust:
Bereshit (Genesis) 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return.
Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 3:20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
The burial place of Sarah was purchased from Ephron, whose name means the spiritual power of efar, dust. The metal of dust is lead. The vav nun on the end of Ephron’s name indicates the diminutive. Ephron, therefore, means “Little Dust”.
Avraham epitomized Efar, dust, because he identified himself with dust:
Bereshit (Genesis) 18:27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which [am but] dust and ashes:
Avraham is associated with one of the climaxes of creation; the Akeida, the binding of Yitzchak. Avraham was also associated with the subsequent crash; the death of Sarah Imeinu. To understand this, lets look at the other climaxes and subsequent crashes. Adam was the first climax and the first crash.
The climaxes of creation:
The creation of Adam
The death of Sarah
Building of the Mishkan
Spies despise the land
* * *
Rachel was not to be buried in the Ma'arat HaMachpelah was because she was born from the revealed and there she returned. Her place is road side for all to come and visit, to pray. Leah's burial place, like her source, is hidden in the hidden. Where else is this idea of revealed and hidden? This is the relationship between Yerushalayim and Hevron.
The actions of the fathers are not just a sign but also an indication of events for the children. Avraham was not just looking to get ‘hold’ of a gravesite. He wanted to make an eternal connection and not just between him and HaShem! He wanted to make a connection between HaShem and the Jewish people that was a marriage between Husband and wife.
Avraham and Sarah were the first Jews (Hebrews – KolHaTor editor) to ever get married. Every action of man creates an action in heaven. The greater the man the greater the counterpart action. When Avraham married Sarah, HaShem decided, so to speak, He would marry the Jewish (assembly of Israel – KolHaTor editor) people. HaShem as the groom and Israel as the bride. A match made in heaven! Avraham was insuring by his actions that a spouse is not just a spouse in this temporal world but with the same indestructible eternity as the Ma'arat HaMachpelah. This relationship he instituted with his wife is the relationship he instituted for HaShem and us.
It is very fitting that the Gemara, in Kiddushin, opens with the purchase of the gravesite of Sarah. When a Jew gives a wife a ring it's to buy into the Ma'arat HaMachpelah. It's to be with her in this world and the next. We want the relationship to be as Avraham established it, like the relationship between HaShem and us. And right after the Torah defines for us what a Jewish marriage is, by the actions of Avraham, it then went right into the story of a Jewish marriage, Yitzchak and Rivka.
Har HaBayit (Jerusalem) – The eternal contact point to the Torah, of the Jewish soul.
Jerusalem represents the center of the center, the focal point of Eretz Israel: “All roads lead to Jerusalem”.
The word “Jerusalem” is a combination of two Hebrew words: Yireh and Salem. Yireh is what Avraham called this place when he was binding Isaac. Salem is what Melchizedek called this place when he met Avraham after the first major war:
Bereshit (Genesis) 22:14 And Abraham called the name of that place HaShem-Yireh: as it is said [to] this day, in the mount of HaShem it shall be seen.
Bereshit (Genesis) 14:18-20 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he [was] the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed [be] Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
This first use of the “Jerusalem” then suggests that Jerusalem is our contact with HaShem and His Word. Jerusalem is thus the eternal contact point of the Jewish soul with the Torah.
The prophet confirmed this understanding:
Micah 4:2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of HaShem, and to the house of the God of Yaaqov; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of HaShem from Jerusalem.
King David faced a modern decision: Where to put Israel’s capital?
He had ruled the tribe of Judah for seven years, from Hebron, when finally the ten northern tribes came down and anointed David king over all Israel. With sacred oil yet clinging inside his beard, King David led the people straight from Hebron to Jerusalem. Why leave the tomb of Avraham for the fortress of the Jebusites? David had geographical reasons for singing, "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion." First, Jerusalem unites Israel. Second, Jerusalem controls the Judean Plateau. Third, Jerusalem depends on the Judean Plateau for support.
While Hebron could unite only Judah, Jerusalem could unite all the tribes. Notice that Jerusalem sits smack on the Israeli Mason-Dixon Line: With Judah to her south and the Ten Northern Tribes to her north, she commands a neutral center. So all Israel went up with King David to Jerusalem, a city none of them owned.
King David invited everyone along to watch, but who attacked? Only the king’s men. The king did the job with his own crew. David set up a royal city no tribe had owned, no tribe had conquered, and where every tribe was the king’s guest:
2 Shmuel (Samuel) 5:6-10 And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither. 7 Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David. 8 And David said on that day, Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated of David’s soul, he shall be chief and captain. Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house. 9 So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward. 10 And David went on, and grew great, and HaShem God of hosts was with him.
Years later, King David brought a plague on Israel by counting his soldiers. The plague was halted with a sacrifice on the threshing floor that would become the Temple. The Temple mount was purchased by David HaMelech, for fifty shekels, to stay the judgment of his census.
II Shmuel (Samuel) 24:18-24 And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto HaShem in the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as HaShem commanded. And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward him: and Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face upon the ground. And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant? And David said, To buy the threshing floor of thee, to build an altar unto HaShem, that the plague may be stayed from the people. And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what [seemeth] good unto him: behold, [here be] oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and [other] instruments of the oxen for wood. All these [things] did Araunah, [as] a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, HaShem thy God accept thee. And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy [it] of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto HaShem my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
Midrash Rabbah - Genesis XCIII:12 AND HE FELL UPON HIS BROTHER BENJAMIN'S NECKS (XLV, 14). Did Benjamin then have two necks? In fact, said R. Eleazar, he foresaw through the Holy Spirit that two Temples would be built in Benjamin's portion, and both would be destroyed. AND BENJAMIN WEPT UPON HIS NECK: he saw that the Tabernacle of Shiloh would be built in Yosef HaTzaddik's portion and would be destroyed.
Bereshit (Genesis) 45:14 And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's necks, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck.
(As a side note, Rambam suggests that the 3 phrases in Bereshit 33:12 refer to HaShem's relationship to the three Temples.)
The Midrash also explains the Torah when it tells us that the Temple is equated to the neck:
Midrash Rabbah - Genesis XCIII:6 Here that it is on account of a man, the beloved of the eyes, the one who gives hospitality to the Holy One, blessed be He-as it says, Of Benjamin he said: The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him; He covereth him all the day, and He dwelleth between his shoulders (Deut. XXXIII, 12) --how much the more so!’
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 33:12 Of Benjamin he said, The beloved of HaShem shall dwell in safety by him; shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.
One of the major trade routes, the route from Beersheba to Damascus, went through Hebron, Jerusalem, and Shechem, and, crossing the Jordan at Bethshean, followed the river to the Sea of Galilee, thence running northeastward to Damascus. This trade route suggests that the center of Israel was a major connection between trading centers. Thus Jerusalem was strategic for trade.
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The Land and Torah of Israel are both called by the Torah morasha a word which literally means "heritage" but which the Sages of the Talmud link to "me'orasa" (eros, love), or "fiancée". A successful marriage, a proper conquest of and living in the Land of Israel, knowledge and performance of Torah, are each fraught with problems along the way.
When Moses sent scouts to scout the land, they looked at the length and breadth of the land, but they only looked at one city: Hevron (Bamidbar 13:22).
Joshua’s Conquest’s Routes
When Joshua sent the two spies to spy out the land, they only went to one city: Jericho.
These two leaders, Moses and Joshua, both intended to conquer the land. Moses intended to conquer the land from the south and he therefore started with Hevron. When the sin of the spies cut short that plan, HaShem changed tactics.
Joshua entered the land from the east and began his conquest with Jericho. This route roughly parallels the route taken by Avraham when he entered the land and by Yaaqov when he returned from Lavan. Joshua thus followed a tried and true route that had great significance.
Joshua traveled to Shechem for the blessings and the curses: From Eval and Gerazim. His campaign then proceeded south.
Moses intended to reverse this pattern in order to eliminate the exile. Because of the sin of the spies, this pattern was abandoned and the road to exile was paved again. We know that the conquest of the land led to the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles. After that exile we restored to the land only to be sent into the longest exile, the exile we are currently experiencing.
The entire war, with the PLO, is based on who’s in charge of the holy sites. The Arabs sense that their life-force comes from the Jews’ holy sites. That’s why their battles have always been focused on the graves of our righteous ancestors, because these places nourish their life-force. It’s no wonder that they hold fast to Kever Yosef, Kever Rachel Imeinu, Ma’arat HaMachpelah, and most importantly, Har HaBayit.
These three locations have become the MOST problematic area of Eretz Israel. Somehow the goyim know that their survival in the land depends on holding these three places. The Arabs have built a pagan mosque on the Temple mount, they have destroyed kever Yosef, and they have taken over Machpelah and now prevent Jews from worshipping there most of the time.
There are four cities that characterize our attachment to the land:
ERETZ ISRAEL FIRST
Shechem – Covenant of Fire
The fiery torch in the covenant between the parts.
The city of the covenant. Between Eval and Gerizim.
HaShem and Eretz Israel
Fire – Aish
Fire goes from place to place.
Avraham’s first arrival location.
Mashiach ben Yosef
Ovadiah 1:18 And the house of Yaaqov shall be a fire, and the house of Yosef HaTzaddik a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be [any] remaining of the house of Esau; for HaShem hath spoken [it].
The unity of the Jewish people
Dust – Efar
Man comes from dust
The first purchased location.
Jericho – Covenant of air
The key to Eretz Israel
Air – Ruach
The first conquered location.
The origin of Mashiach. Mashiach judges by smell.
Bereshit 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Jerusalem – Covenant of Torah
Water – Mayaim
People go to the water. Water comes from the heights and flows to the depths.
The first city of David
Mashiach ben David
Yericho was the first place in Eretz Israel, which was conquered.
According to the Midrash, at the same time as the scouts entered Jericho, representatives of all seven nations, which lived in the land gathered in Jericho. These people are called "the owners of Jericho". Asking whether all the seven nations were joint owners of the city, the Midrash replies: "Jericho is the key to the land, once it has been captured, the rest of the land can be immediately conquered."
Midrash Rabbah - Numbers XV:15 R. Samuel b. Nahmani explained: Jericho was the bulwark of the Land of Israel. If Jericho was taken the whole country would instantly be conquered. Consequently the seven nations assembled therein.
The town of Jericho is one of only two to be referred to as Kikkar. Sodom is the other city called Kikkar. This seems to indicate that the reason Jericho was conquered first was to eliminate the problem that Lot had with Eretz Israel. He wanted a place that was lush and had lots of water. In order to purge this tendency, Joshua started with Jericho. This was, as it were, a second destruction of Sodom.
It took the return of a daughter of Lot (Ruth), who was nearly a female version of Avraham to bring the child into the world who would finally complete that task. David, indeed, was the antidote to the problem that Lot introduced, but the cycles of mourning were already planted into our national destiny, such that even that great building which he helped to found would not stand forever.
It remains for the Mashiach ben David to reverse the route and lead us in a conquest from the south. A conquest that will start with Hevron!
May we merit this tikkun speedily in our days!
In the future Redemption, Yericho will also occupy a major place. In Sifrei at the end of Devarim, it is written: And he showed him the Negev and the plain, the valley of Yericho, this teaches that HaShem showed Moshe Gog and the multitudes that are destined to fall in the valley of Yericho.
The ideas for this section were originally presented in a shiur by Hakham Yitzchak Ginsburgh.
To begin with, the whole land of Eretz Israel must be annexed and made a whole land. After the ’67 war, we had the whole land in our hands, yet for some mysterious reason we let it slip away from us. Until we recognize that the WHOLE land is ours, we can never achieve peace in the land. As I heard from one wise man: The “Land for Peace” formula is most excellent! We have found that the more land Israel has, of that which was promised, the more peace we found in the land. This is the exact opposite of the current plan, which takes the land out of Jewish control.
The Jewish leaders in Eretz Israel have explicitly stated that they do not see a solution to the land problems. As we shall see, it is because they have a fundamental bias towards a secular state which is assimilated into the nations. This bias guarantees failure. For this reason, we must replace these secular leaders with leaders that are Torah oriented and understand how the land must be unified.
The solution to our problems, with Eretz Israel, can be found in the qualities of the sefirot. The following steps must be executed in order to properly align the land:
These first five are based on havdalah, on separation
This kindness is giving the land to ourselves, to all Jews.
We must do good before we can use our might in action. We must eradicate terrorism.
Torah law must replace civil law. As long as the law is not Jewish we can not have a Jewish state. We now have a goyish law and a goyish state.
After we have Torah law we can really promote aliya. This will attract even those who are well off.
Expel evil from the land. Not just terrorists, but anyone who is hostile to Torah. The good goyim can remain, but the bad goyim must leave.
The havdalah state must NOT be skipped over. Havdalah MUST be first!
These next are Based on Merging
This is the union, the marriage, is peace between the Torah religious and the secular religion, which is science. In short this is the unification of Torah and science. This is related to the coming of Mashiach ben Yosef.
The Supreme Court and the University professors of Israel are not Yiddish, they are anti-Semitic. The civil law should be based on Torah law. This would make Israel a Jewish state. The ruling body must become Torah based.
The road that needs to be followed is the road of Teshuva. We must return to HaShem. However, the primary use of shuva, to return, is to return to Eretz Israel, to return to the land.
The removal of "the kingdom of violence" must precede the establishment of God's kingdom.
It then becomes significant that Yosef HaTzaddik is also buried in a border city, the city of Shechem which forms the boundary between Ephraim and Manasseh. Border cities leave us with the idea of connecting something. Rachel's tomb connects Judah and Benjamin; and Yosef HaTzaddik's tomb connects Ephraim and Manasseh. Even so, ALL of Israel is made to pass between the Mount of cursing and blessing in the valley below at Shechem, immediately before the bones of Yosef HaTzaddik are buried there! It is as though HaShem also connected these two events for some reason.
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“The Voice of a Dove”
Rabbi Hillel Shklover
The ingathering of exiles encompasses three tasks: building Jerusalem, gathering in the exiles, and fulfilling the commandments dependent on the Land. All these are hinted at in the following sentences: [Ps. 24:3] “who will ascend the mountain of the Lord, ” referring to the ingathering of exiles [initial letters — hcn-- are initials of Mashiach ben Yosef]. [Ps. 24:3] “who will stand up in the place of his sanctuary” referring to the building [initial letters, are initials of Mashiach ben Yosef].
Wherever the word “to stand up” is mentioned, it refers to the line of Mashiach ben Yosef, as in the phrase [Gen. 37:7] “my sheaf rose” [Ps. 24:5] “he will receive a blessing from the Lord” refers to something that carries with it a blessing, such as planting [the initial letters are the initials of Mashiach ben Yosef, though in reverse order — hcn. And in the sentences [Jer 31:20] “return to your cities, ” “build Jerusalem, ” [Ps. 102:14] “it is the time to favor her.” ‘To favor’ refers to planting as it states, “he will favor its dirt.”
Each one of them accords with the gematria of “testimony in Yosef” that refers to Mashiach ben Yosef. Also, these three tasks were given to Cyrus as it states: “I am the Lord Who confirms the word of His servant, and fulfills the counsel of his messengers; Who says of Jerusalem: ‘It will be settled’... Who says to the depths, ‘Dry up, and I will dry out your rivers’. Who says of Cyrus, ‘my shepherd’; he will fulfill all my desire, ” etc. [Isa. 44:24-28].
According to the explanation of the Gaon, the word in Gematria equals 131 because the purpose of building Eretz Israel is to drive out from the gates of Jerusalem. And therefore this is the mission of Cyrus as part of the mission of Mashiach ben Yosef from the left side, which means the quality of Din. The might of Mashiach ben Yosef lies in the miraculous assistance he can offer in connection with the ingathering of exiles that will come about when the awakening comes from below.
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Until next week from the Kol HaTor team!
PEACE AND BLESSINGS
Compiling editor: Agatha van der Merwe
Content control: OvadYah Avrahami
Participating editors: Dr Robert Mock, Geoffrey Messervy-Norman, Stephen Spykerman
Torah Guidance: Rabbi Avraham Feld
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