Parshat Noach By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס”ד
לשכנו תדרשו Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
Happy are You Israel, Who is Like You!
At the end of this parsha we are told that Avraham left Ur Kasdim to go to the Land of Canaan, but then stopped in Haran, till he was commanded by Hashem, in next week’s parsha to go to the Land of Israel. The Zohar adds that Avraham searched all places on the globe for the Holy Presence and found it in the Land of Israel, even before being commanded by HaShem to go to this Land (Zohar I 78a). This, and many similar teachings of our Sages stress the importance of human initiative, “itaruta delatata”, as being crucial in triggering Heavenly aid from Above, “itaruta del’eila.”
From this we can infer the high value of all efforts made towards the Land of Israel, whether in thought, speech, and definitely action, and of course visiting the Land of Israel, even if one is not able to permanently dwell here.
Similarly, it was through Kaleb’s first “visit” to Hebron that he merited to imbibe within himself the inspiration of Hebron to talk in praise of the Holy Land despite the other spies, thereby meriting to fully settle in this city many years later, as ordained by Hashem (Dvarim 1, 36). Indeed, this is Hebron, the City of Lofty Initiative, Beacon of the Holy Land!
Real Stories from the Holy Land
During the Crusader period a church stood at Maarat Hamachpela, and Jews and Muslims alike were severely persecuted by the Christians. During those days there was a righteous Jewish figure who lived in Hebron named Meir ben Eliyahu. Meir would walk through the streets of Hebron during those days distraught with thoughts, after seeing the Crusader’s statues and the crucifix, which for its sake many Jewish communities had been butchered by the Crusaders then: “what has become of us? Avraham our Father rebelled against his father, destroyed his statues, and sacrificed his life for such, and now masses of statues are on his tomb?!” And then a wind of zealousness passed upon Meir and he secretly destroyed the statues on a daily basis. Only several months later were the Crusaders able to discover who had been destroying their statues daily, and they took him hostage [without telling his wife or the Jewish community] to be taken to Rome, so they could take their revenge against him… Nevertheless, the Crusaders knew that Meir was a holy man and they did not dare shed his blood, but rather they wished to take him to Rome to “influence” him to convert to Christianity… Years passed. On one eve of Yom Kippur, Meir walked between lines of trees in Rome, longing intensely to observe Yom Kippur, but he knew he couldn’t, for he was in captivity! Suddenly, Meir saw someone who looked like a monk passing by him singing songs of the Days of Awe. Perplexed, Meir thought this man was either mad or a Jew that had converted to Christianity. Nevertheless, the man turned to Meir saying, “I am a Jew, Meir ben Eliyahu, from Hebron!” After awakening from what seemed to be a dream, the two designated a time to meet after Yom Kippur. Then, just after Sukkot the two fled together on the same night. After a long tumultuous journey Meir arrived home in Hebron, and the whole city was amazed at the return of the captive.
Sefer Hebron p. 308