As part of our effort to attract our beloved, Diaspora readers with honey, rather than to smash them repeatedly over their heads – in the next few blogs, we will travel the length and breadth of Eretz Yisrael, just like our forefather Avraham did in obeying God’s command, “Arise, walk about the Land through its length and breadth! For to you I will give it!”
Based on a Gemara in Baba Batra 100A, the Ramban explains that Hashem commanded Avraham to walk through the Land out of His love for him, that his offspring might more easily conquer the country, since walking the length and breadth of the Land signified Avraham’s taking possession of it.
So, in honor of the week’s Torah portion of “Chaya Sarah,” let’s start our love affair with the Land of Israel in Hevron. I love Hevron. It’s so powerfully “Biblical.” That’s the best word to describe it. Whenever I’m there, I feel like I’ve traveled 5000 years back through time. The transcendental holiness of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs still saturates the air. The kedusha is so thick, you feel that you can actually reach out and grasp it. Not only is Hevron the gateway to Gan Eden, our Sages teach that all of the Land of Israel is mystically folded up, like a roadmap, under the city. That’s one of the reasons why the Tomb of the Patriarchs is called “Maarat HaMachpelah,” meaning “the Cave that is doubled” or “folded up.” That is also why Jewish settlement in Hevron is so strategically important – whoever possesses Hevron, possesses the Land.
Just like Hevron was a city of giants in the past, so it is today. The Jews who live there are giants. What can I say? Boro Park and Monsey belong to a completely different world. A totally different planet. On my second date with my wife, I took her there, to see how she would react. In addition to praying in the Maarat HaMachpeleh, we visited my good friend, Baruch Marzel, and Rabbi Moshe Levinger. She passed the test with flying colors. I wasn’t surprised – her brother was learning in the yeshiva there.
Before, Rosh HaShanah, I took my two youngest boys to Hevron to ask Hashem to inscribe all of the Jewish People into the Book of Life, in the merit of our holy forefathers. One of our boys studies in a high-school yeshiva in Maale Hever, just ten minutes away, so I visit Hevron often. What a blessing to live so close to this Heavenly place, just a 50 minute drive from my house!
Here are some photos I took on recent visits. As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Enjoy! And Shabbat Hevron shalom!
PS – There are a few photos of giant banners hanging on the Peace House during the struggle to prevent the government from ousting its Jewish residents. I made the banners and hung them up with my dear friend, Noam Arnon, spokesperson for the Hevron community. Now that the court has sanctioned our ownership, with G-d’s help, the Jews will be moving back soon!