Parshat Acharei Mot-Kedoshim
By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
When You Come to the Land
“And may You gather our exiles to Your holy courtyards.” (Modim Derabanan) In Sephardic siddurim there are three blessings in the Amida that have the same vowels in HaShem’s Name in the final sentence of these blessings ending with ‘Baruch Ata HaShem’. This placement of vowels in HaShem’s Name, is meant to heighten one’s intent towards the secrets of these blessings in the Amida prayer, according to the Arizal. These blessings are: the blessing for the ingathering of exiles, the blessing for the building of Jerusalem, and the the blessing of thanksgiving, all these blessings having a ‘kubutz’ vowel in the final usage of the Name ‘HaShem.’ What meaning can we gather from the common vowels of these blessings on a simple level?
To begin with, let us contemplate on the meaning of the name of the vowel ‘kubutz.’ Remarkably, we find that this name highly resembles the word ‘kibutz,’ which means ‘to in-gather to one location.’ The first blessing we mentioned that uses this vowel in the Name ‘HaShem’ is the blessing for the in-gathering of exiles to the Holy Land. In this way, we understand why this vowel is also used for the blessing for the building of Jerusalem. As we say every morning in Psukei Dezimra, the building of Jerusalem is linked with the in-gathering of exiles, as it says ‘HaShem builds Jerusalem, the exiles He shall in-gather.’ (Ps. 147, 2) Some sources say that the in-gathering of exiles comes before and leads to the building of Jerusalem, while other sources say that the building of Jerusalem comes before and leads to the in-gathering of exiles. One explanation of this matter is that, in an initial stage once a certain level of the in-gathering of exiles is reached then the building of Jerusalem will be achieved, but then also after Jerusalem is built a greater level of the in-gathering of exiles will be achieved. What is the deeper meaning of this? As we have discussed before, when the People of Israel are in-gathered in the Land, the Holy Presence of the Land, called ‘Jerusalem’, the City of the Holy Presence par-excellence, is enhanced and ‘rebuilt’, leading to the physical building of the Temple as well. Then, the spiritually enhanced light of this Holy Presence shines on our People and on the world at large, causing the will and ability of the exiles to be ingathered even more in our Land, causing the Holy Presence to be enhanced even more, and vice-versa in a circular pattern.
Now that we have discussed the connection between the blessing of in-gathering of exiles and the blessing for the building of Jerusalem in regard to the ‘kubitz’ vowel, we can understand the meaning of the ‘kubutz’ vowel in regard to the blessing of thanksgiving, which also contains a reference to the ‘in-gathering of our exiles to Your holy courtyards’, in the Modim Derabanan, said by the congregation when the hazan reaches this blessing in a minyan. If we ask, ‘what is the conduit between the in-gathering of exiles and the building of Jerusalem’, we may say that thanksgiving is the conduit. By thanking HaShem for the many gifts we have received from HaShem, and for the Holy Land especially, we deeply connect to the secret of this Land, as the earthly Land represents the secret of receptivity. The most benevolent sign of receptivity is ultimately thanksgiving. Thus, when we thank HaShem in this blessing we tap into the only mitzvah in the Torah to bless and thank God, the blessing of HaShem for the Holy Land in the Birkat HaMazon (see beginning of p. Ekev). Therefore, in this blessing of thanksgiving we tap into the power of the Holy Presence of the Holy Land, enhance it, and are enlightened by its light, just as we described in the blessings for the ingathering of exiles and the building of Jerusalem. This spiritual chemistry is especially powerful in the light of the Hebron, Beacon of the Holy Land. Indeed, especially at this time, 70 years since the ingathering of exiles to the Holy Land in our era and 50 years since the settlement of Hebron in our era, is an excellent time to thank HaShem for the gradual ingathering of exiles, the building of Jerusalem, and the building of Hebron – the Key of Jerusalem, we are witness to.
One of the Torah luminaries of Hebron and also a very influential figure in Hebron’s Jewish settlement was Rabbi Haim Rahamim Yosef Franko, called by many by his acronym ‘HaHarif’ which means ‘the sharp genius.’ He was born in Rhodes in 5595 (1835), and he immigrated to the Land of Israel in 5628 (1868) with his wife Esther Mazel-Tov and his three children, Ben-Zion, Meir, and Clara and settled in Jerusalem. In 5638 (1878) he was appointed chief rabbi of the Sephardi community in Hebron and was one of the pioneers of leaving the walls of the Jewish Quarter in Hebron, and encouraged other Jews to follow him. In 5653 (1893) he established the “Chesed L’Avraham” hospital named after Rabbi Abraham Azulai’s Kabalistic work Chesed L’Avraham. The hospital would later be renamed Beit Hadassah after the Hadassah organization took charge. Rabbi Franko authored several books on halacha, responsa, and Jewish thought such as “Shaarei Rahamim”, “Shnot Yamim,” “Kavod Yaakov,” and “Ben Yamin.” Rabbi Franco passed away in 5661 (1901) and was buried in the ancient cemetery of Hebron. His tomb can be can be visited today.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #262
‘On one specific day two unrelated people told me that they would like to return kabbalistic books that they borrowed from me about a year or two ago…’ I.G
Sources: Sefer Hebron p. 108-109, Hebron Fund Site
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