By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
Rehovot – For Now Hashem Has Widened for Us and We shall be Fruitful in the Land
This parsha talks about the “widening” of opportunities for the Jewish People. After the past few parshiyot that dealt with the life of Avraham, the initiating “trailblazer” of Judaism, comes this parsha, the main parsha in the Torah that shows our father Yitzhak in a prominent and dominant role. Yitzhak is described in the beginning of this parsha as being the “offspring of Avraham.” This description explains the spiritual work of Yitzhak as being a continuation, “widening,” and concretization of the work of Avraham. For example, Avraham dug wells and made a treaty with the Philistines, thereby establishing the city of Beer Sheva. Yitzhak also dug wells and made agreements with Philistines. However, it is Yitzhak who established and “concretized” the status of the wells he (his servants) dug and also those that his father dug, establishing four cities in the process. Kabbalistically speaking, the comparison of Avraham and Yitzhak in their spiritual work may be likened to the concepts of “light” versus “vessel,” relatively speaking, where Avraham represents the initiating “light” while Yitzhak represents the concept of “vessel” which allows this “light” to be “received” (as a vessel “receives”) and appreciated in the world, thereby giving this “light” more “width” and manifestation in our world. Also, in regard to the episodes of Yakov and Esav in this parsha it is explained that Yitzhak hoped that Esav would serve as a proper “vessel” towards Yakov, thereby giving material manifestation for “the spiritual light” of Yakov. However, Rivka foresaw that Esav could not be trusted with this mission. Therefore, Rivka told Yakov to take the blessings of Yitzhak meant for Esav, blessings that deal with the “material manifestation” unique to Yitzhak, so that Yakov, and his descendants, be given not only spiritual, but also material, superiority, in order to succeed in uniting his spiritual light with the concrete “width” of reality, independently.
In the past we have noted that that “wide-shouldered” sheep from Hebron were offered in the Beit HaMikdash. There we noted that “wide” (as in “wide-shouldered”) – “rahav”, carries the same letters – r.h.v – that comprise the verb root of Hebron – h.v.r. – which means unity. We may say that these two concepts are deeply connected, for when spiritual light is given “width” – “rohav” – and manifestation through the “vessels” of reality, as we explained, then a “unity” – “hibur” – between the Divine and the material is formed. In this way we may explain the courageous spirit of Hebron as seen by Kaleb and others, bringing Divine ideals into the real world through “width” and loftiness of spirit, as Hanna said: “By Hashem my horn is lifted high, my mouth shall grow wide upon my enemies, for I delight in Your deliverance.”
Real Stories from the Holy Land #288
One story that illustrates the “width” and greatness of courage of Hebron in regard to “widening” Jewish presence in Hebron is the story of Jewish return to Beit Hadassa. When Hebron was liberated in 5727 (1967), Jews began striving to return to the houses of Hebron. Kiryat Arba was established. However, Jews were not allowed to return to the heart of Hebron; it remained Judenrein. Until 5739 (1979). Immediately after Pesah, a group of ten women and 40 children proceeded in secret from Kiryat Arba to Hebron in the middle of the night. Arriving behind Beit Hadassah in the heart of the city, the women and children climbed into the vacant structure through a small window on the rear side of the building. The morning after the women and children entered, soldiers patrolling in the area heard singing coming from the building. Investigating, the soldiers, to their great surprise, found the building’s new Jewish occupants.
The Israeli Government led by Prime Minister Menachem Begin was agitated by the nerve of Kiryat Arba’s Jews and opposed renewing the Jewish Community in Hebron, but was disturbed by the thought of forcibly removing women and children from the building. So the Israeli Government ordered that no one would be allowed inside, and anyone leaving would not be allowed to return. Even food, water, or medical supplies were not allowed through the blockade. When it was pointed out to Begin that during the Yom Kippur War, when Israeli forces surrounded the Egyptian Third Army, he allowed them food, water, and medical supplies, he relented.
One of the women in the building was pregnant. As her due-date approached, the other women urged her to leave, but she persisted: “If I cannot return, I will not leave”. The Israel Government finally backed down and agreed that this woman return to Beit Hadassah following the birth. The government subsequently gave its blessing to the reestablishment of a permanent Jewish civilian presence in Hebron.
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