Yesterday, I attended a brit at a tiny hilltop settlement in the Shomron. The entire place consisted of a dozen small caravans housing idealist young Jewish families who love Torah and the Land of Israel. It’s amazing that US President Obama, Hilary Clinton, and the heads of the European Union, can’t sleep at night because of this miniscule Jewish community that doesn’t even show up on a map. Being there reminded me of another wonderful story I wrote that captures the absurdity and hypocrisy of the world’s fixation with, and hatred against, the God-fearing settlers of Israel. The story, from my book, Days of Mashiach, is set in Hevron, but the international crisis that the tiny garden of rosebushes triggered could happen in any other settlement as well.
By the way, driving out to the brit through the Shomron, we passed dozens of barren hilltops and Biblical valleys just waiting to welcome the holy Jews of Boro Park, Flatbush, Crown Heights, Williamsburg, Monsey, and Lakewood. There’s plenty of room! Come with your buildings, street signs, kosher bakeries, shuls, whatever you like. Why live in a foreign, gentile land when you can live in the Holy Land? If you like the feeling of living in a ghetto, then transfer everything just as it is, lock, stock, and barrel. Come December, we’ll even string up Xmas lights along the community eruv so you can feel that you’re still in America! And we’ll have The Jewish Press printed in Israel and delivered to your doorsteps every week with all of the ads that you love. Isn’t that what you’ve prayed for all of your lives – you, your parents, your zaideis – to return to Zion and Jerusalem? What are you waiting for???
THE JACKASS THAT BRAYED
The floor rumbled when Meir walked inside the small, hillside caravan. The ceiling sagged in places. Ants, flies, and scorpions visited throughout the summer. Wind and rain poured in from every window in the winter. The kitchen faucet dripped without compassion. The toilet-flush took ten minutes to subside. And the shower splashed cold water in unpredictable spurts. Yes, the caravan had problems, but the young Shoshana settler loved it. In fact, he hardly paid attention to the deficiencies at all. The caravan was Meir’s first home with his new bride, and he was as happy as could be. The two tiny rooms were his palace. It didn’t matter to him that when his wife gave birth in another few months, they would have to put the crib in the dining area, next to the refrigerator, which was too big to fit in the kitchen. Meir wasn’t troubled in the least. Other settlers managed. They would manage too. The important thing was that they were living in the hills of Hevron, on one of the g’vaot that had sprung up literally overnight. They were defending the Land, holding down the fort, waiting for all of the Jews to come home.
He swung open the flimsy caravan door and stepped out into the cool morning air. The soldier up in the guard tower looked down and nodded shalom.
“Boker tov,” Meir responded in his warm, open manner. “Wait, I’ll bring you some juice.”
The soldier didn’t refuse. As his luck had it, he was stationed in Shoshana for a month of reserve duty. Though most of the soldiers on guard duty in Shoshana weren’t religious, and though their opinions often opposed the ideology of the settlers in the tiny circle of caravans high in the hills of Hevron, everyone ended up liking Meir. You couldn’t help it. His friendliness was contagious. His door was always open, and soldiers were always welcome to use the telephone or to enjoy some fresh, homemade cake. Meir himself served in a tank unit, and word had gotten around about his exploits in Lebanon, how he had rescued a wounded soldier and carried him back, under fire, to safety. Now he hurried back to the caravan, and with quickness that characterized all of his movements, he brought the soldier a pitcher of juice.
Already the fury of Hevron, the trucks and honking horns, the bustle of the Casba and market drifted up on the wind, carrying with it the scent of tobacco and spices. Shoshana looked down on the ancient Jewish city from its perch on the hill. Israeli flags waved over the cherished Tomb of the Patriarchs, and over the small Avraham Avinu settlement in the city. On the hill across the way, Tel Romeida’s cluster of caravans sat huddling together like a wagon train guarding against Indian attack. No doubt, Meir thought, Shoshana’s seven caravans appeared just as vulnerable from the Tel-Romeida side of the hill. The settlers lived each day on a miracle. A dirt road ran beside Meir’s caravan, and Arab shepherds herding their sheep could reach up and knock on his bedroom window as they passed. If G-d hadn’t been watching, the lone army guard tower wouldn’t have helped. Even Meir’s parents, hardened Zionists from the early days of the State, thought their son was crazy for living there.