By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
In the Wilderness of Sinai
“And bring us to Zion Your city with joy and to Jerusalem You Holy Temple with everlasting happiness…” (Musaf of Three Festivals). On Shavuot we will all say these words of prayer in supplication for the rebuilding of our Holy Temple and the renewal of our pilgrimage to this Temple on the three festivals. This pilgrimage highlights how the “home-city” of the entire Jewish People is Jerusalem – where our true “home”, the Holy Temple, will rest.
Many would agree that to them “home” means one’s wife – as our Sages taught “home is one’s wife” – one’s parents, family, or an atmosphere where one feels loved regardless of a specific location. What is the common denominator in this conceptualization of “home”? In regards to a couple, our Sages teach that if the husband and wife are meritorious, the Holy Presence rests between them. Similarly, in an atmosphere where one feels loved, there is a connection formed between the souls which are like “sparks from the Holy Presence” that causes the light of Gd to be manifest in this atmosphere. Our Sages teach that when two people study Torah together, the Holy Presence rests between them as well. Nevertheless, in the case of Torah study the connection between the souls is spiritual and is derived directly from the Giver of the Torah, who unites them and rests His Presence between them. We may say that when this atmosphere of love is based on spiritual motives [which are the source of lasting love (Avot ch. 5)], then this spiritual motive is similar to that of Torah study – then the light of the Holy Presence resides in such an atmosphere. We may conclude that the common conceptualization of “home” between a couple, parents and children (or an atmosphere where one feels true love), is due to the Light of the Holy Presence in this atmosphere.
In the blessings of the Haftorah we say, “have compassion on Zion for she is the home of our lives”. Based on our above study on the meaning of “home”, we understand more fully how Zion and the Temple is the “home of our lives.” The Temple is the ultimate place of the Holy Presence and it is from this place that the light of “home” is emanated to the entire world. Aside from the Temple, our Holy Land – the Land of the Holy Presence – also enlightens our souls with the light of Gd, for the Holy Land is the true home of every Jew. Therefore, next time you face the Holy Land and Jerusalem in your prayers, remember that you are facing home, and this home is the same as for your fellow congregant as well as our entire People. It is from this National Home that you derive the spiritual light for your personal home.
We also begin the book of Bamidbar just before the holiday of Shavuot, the holiday of Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Nevertheless, this juxtaposition of the parsha and Shavuot may also teach us that although the Giving of the Torah is definitely one of the loftiest events in our People’s history, we were still (as is depicted in the title quote from this week’s parsha which begins the book of Bamidbar), “in the wilderness of Sinai”. We should remember that, although Sinai is the place we received the Torah, nevertheless the Torah calls this place “the wilderness”. Meaning, this place is not the ultimate place the Torah wishes to bring us. The Torah wishes to bring us “home” to our Holy Land and Temple; to be “embraced” in the Light of the Holy Presence, to bring the Light of Sinai – the Light of the Torah – into our very lives. With HaShem’s kindness, our People have once again been able to settle in our Holy Land and in Jerusalem; tho we have not yet succeeded in building our Holy House, our Holy “Home”. Is there a location through which we may receive the “keys to home”? We may say that the “keys to home” lie in Hebron: this is the home-city of our People. This is the home-city of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs. This is the home-city of King David’s monarchy by which he achieved the spiritual power, according to the Arizal, to pave the way towards the building of the Ultimate Home, the Holy Temple.
One of the Torah luminaries of Hebron who also shined the light of Hebron to the Diaspora was Rabbi Shlomo Yehuda Lev Alizarov. Shlomo Alizarov was born in 5623 (1863) and moved to the Land of Israel at the age of ten with his parents. Already at a young age he would learn continuously day and night and was known as an exceptional ‘masmid’ (diligent Torah scholar). He became a pupil of Rabbi Shimon Haykin and Rabbi Eliyahu Mani. In 5664 (1904) Rabbi Alizarov became the chief rabbi of Hebron, a position which he held for ten years. Rabbi Alizarov also travelled many years to the Diaspora for the sake of contributing towards the welfare of Hebron and Jerusalem. He was especially active in Bucharest where he established Torah institutions, mikvas, and other religious institutions. He also stayed a long period in Lubavitch, establishing there the foundations for the “Torat Emet” yeshiva in Hebron (today in Jerusalem).
Real Stories from the Holy Land #265
“When talking with non-religious friends last week, one friend mentioned the concept of what is considered true lasting love while the other friend talked about the value of one who says about something he doesn’t know “I don’t know/haven’t heard.” Little did they know that these two teachings were discussed exactly that week in the pirkei avot reading read across the world, chapter five..”
Sources: Sefer Hebron p. 120
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