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      Blessings from Hebron
      by David Wilder
      Personal Reflections on Hebron, Eretz Yisrael, Friends, Family and anything else that comes to mind.
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      David Wilder was born in New Jersey in the USA in 1954, and graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a BA in History and teacher certification in 1976. He spent 1974-75 in Jerusalem at the Hebrew University and returned to Israel upon graduation.

      For over eighteen years David Wilder has worked with the Jewish Community of Hebron. He is the English spokesman for the community, granting newspaper, television and radio interviews internationally. He initiated the Hebron internet project, including email lists of over 15,000 subscribers who receive regular news and commentaries from Hebron in English and Hebrew. David is responsible and continues to update the Hebron web sites, portraying various facets of Hebron, utilizing text, audio, video and pictures. He conducts tours of Hebron's Jewish Community and occasionally travels abroad, speaking at Hebron functions.

      David Wilder is married to Ora, a 'Sabra,' for 35 years. They lived in Kiryat Arba for 17 years and have resided at Beit Hadassah in Hebron for the past 15 years. They have seven children and many grandchildren.

      Links to sites David recommends:
      www.hebron.com (English)
      www.hebron.org.il (Hebrew)
      www.ohrshlomo.org (Hebrew)
      www.ohrshalom.net (Hebrew)
      (others to be added)

      Cheshvan 26, 5770, 11/13/2009

      Hebron-Shabbat Chaye Sarah: The Dream and the Reality

      If it is light in Hebron, it is light in Jerusalem. And the light shining forth from Jerusalem, radiates throughout the entire world. And should G-d forbid, it should be ‘dark’ in Jerusalem, that darkness permeates throughout all of mankind.

      Sometimes the past and the present really blend together. As right now, the eve of Shabbat Hebron – the Shabbat when we read during the weekly Torah portion about Abraham’s purchase of Ma’arat HaMachpela almost 4,000 years ago.

      How so?

      A few weeks ago a fascinating explanation about Hebron and Ma’arat HaMachpela come to my attention. Usually when speaking about this site to visitors, I refer to it as the 2nd holiest site to the Jewish people in all the world, second only to Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This is, by all means, the truth. However, in Judaism, there can be defined two different kinds of sanctity. The first is as we find in Jerusalem and in the area of Temple Mount, where the ‘holiness’ has actual significance. For example, the sanctity of Temple Mount is so intense, that there are areas where it is forbidden for people to access. During the days of the first and second Temple, the Kodesh haKodeshim, the holy of holies, was totally off-limits excepting one day of the year, that day being Yom Kippur, and then it was accessible to only one person, that being the “High Priest” – the Cohen HaGadol. And it was known that should he even think impure thoughts while inside the Holy of Holies, he would not exit alive. For that reason, before entering this inner sanctum of the Temple, a rope was tied on to his body, which could be used to pull him out should he die inside.

      On the other hand, there is a sanctity such as in Hebron; a holiness that does not have such actual implications, but spiritually can be conveyed of as ‘holy.’

      So I thought. However, Israel’s first Chief Rabbi, Rav Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook, wrote differently. In a book titled “Shmuot HaRaiya” he presents the following thought:

      He defines two types of holiness or Kedusha; the first being actual and the other, potential. Of course, he goes into some detail explaining these terms and exemplifying them. But the bottom line is quite clear. When HaShem told Abraham to ‘get up and walk the land, the length and width of it, Abraham quickly makes his way to Hebron, because here was revealed the potential holiness of Eretz Yisrael. Rabbi Kook says, “Eretz Yisrael was not sanctified ‘in potential’ except by the bodies of the Forefathers and their burial, and by interring Sarah in the beginning in Eretz Yisrael, the potential sanctity was established and this holiness established the sanctity of Eretz Yisrael for eternity.”  Of course, the ‘actual’ sanctity is developed and found in Jerusalem at the site of Beit HaMikdash, the Temple.

      This is why David began his reign in Hebron, for seven and a half years,  first to immerse himself in the roots of the potential Kedusha, prior to actualizing this holiness in Jerusalem.

      Rav Kook’s principle student, Rav Yaakov Moshe Harlap, in the first chapter of his classic work Maayanie HaYishua, writes that the value of the expectation of salvation (potential) is greater that the (actual) salvation itself because the expectation, in potential, is never-ending, whereas the actual salvation itself, at each stage, is limited.

      In other words, the holiness of Hebron is real, and no less significant than that of Jerusalem. We know that these two cities are intrinsically bonded. Temple Mount was declared off-limits in 1267 by Marmaluk emperor Bibers, as was Ma’arat HaMachpela, by the same person at the same time.

      In 1929 we lost Hebron. In 1948 we lost the old city of Jerusalem and with that, access to the Wall. In June, 1967 we liberated Jerusalem and the next day, Hebron. Hebron was divided in 1997; ever since, Israeli Prime Ministers have offered to divide Jerusalem. Only by the grace of G-d has this been prevented.

      How does this fit into today’s reality?

      Next Saturday night Hebron’s United States organization, the Hebron Fund, will hold its annual dinner reception in New York. This year, as a change of pace, rather than conduct the event at  a Manhattan hotel, the dinner will be hosted at Citi Stadium in Queens, new home of baseball’s New York Mets. A week or so ago a group of left wing American organizations, led by Adalah-New York, an Arab-loving, Israel-hating organization, began a campaign to have the Mets cancel the Hebron event at their stadium.

      Who is Adalah? According to its web site, they are the “Coalition for Justice in the Middle East” They “began organizing actions in response to the escalation of Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip at the end of June and the subsequent Israeli war on Lebanon in July 2006. Adalah-NY has carried out numerous street protests and educational forums focusing on Israel's assault on Gaza and war against Lebanon, the US' threatened attack on Iran, …It is a grassroots strategic alliance of concerned organizations and individuals in New York, formed to demand an immediate, unconditional, and permanent end to U.S. and U.S.-sponsored Israeli aggression in the Middle East. In response to the continuing injustices committed by the U.S. and Israel, which constitute gross violations of international law, Adalah-NY stands with the people of the Middle East in their demands for justice, equality, democracy, and respect for human rights.”

      Together with Gush Shalom in Israel, Jews against occupation in the US, and other rabidly anti Israel groups, Adalah New York   and others are making a major effort to prevent Hebron’s annual event next week. But they have failed. The Mets have heroically decided not to bow to these racist demands to cancel Hebron’s dinner.

      What does this have to do with all the above-related material? Why are these groups so anti Hebron? Why do they classify Hebron’s Jewish population as being almost synonymous with monsters? Very simply, they can sense the Keddusha, the sanctity that emanates from this holy city.  They know that the key to all of Eretz Yisrael lies with the roots, site where it all started, where the potential for continuous Jewish settlement in all of Israel is never-ending, somehow understanding that the path to Jerusalem runs through Hebron.

      A Cohen, a priest in the Temple would, early every morning, climb high and look south. His compatriots would ask, has the sun yet risen, even as far away as in Hebron? If he answered affirmatively, the day’s activities could commence. However, if not, they had to wait. In other words, if it is dark in Hebron, it is dark in Jerusalem. If it is light in Hebron, it is light in Jerusalem. And the light shining forth from Jerusalem, radiates throughout the entire world. And should G-d forbid, it should be ‘dark’ in Jerusalem, that darkness permeates throughout all of mankind.

      It is those forces of evil, those forces of darkness, who so desire to extinguish the lights of Hebron and the lights of Jerusalem and the lights shining throughout the world. But it is not to be. From the month preceding Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year, through the month and a half holiday season, over 150,000 people flocked to Hebron. Tomorrow we expect to host some 25,000 people in Hebron and Kiryat Arba, coming to participate in reading how Abraham paid 400 silver shekels (today valued at $750,000!) for the Caves of Machpela from Efron the Hittite, where it happened, almost 4,000 years ago. Each and every one of these people is another light, a flame emitting a beam of eternity, embodying the potential holiness that begin with Sarah’s burial, some four millennium ago.

      That potential still exists today, and is being actualized by the continued flow of Jews to Israel, to Jerusalem, to Hebron, and throughout the rest of the Land. This is our potential; this is our actuality. This is our dream, and this is our reality. Happy Shabbat Hebron.


      Cheshvan 9, 5770, 10/27/2009

      Rambam Day in Hebron

      it is permissible to visit your father and mother, even if your clothes are stained and dirty
      In 1165 Moshe ben Maimon, known as Maimonides or the Rambam, visited Eretz Yisrael. In the preface to his commentary on the Talmudic tractate of Rosh Hashana he writes of his visit to Hebron.

      "And on the first day of the week, the ninth day of the month of MarCheshvan, I left Jerusalem for Hebron to kiss the graves of my forefathers in the Cave of Machpela. And on that very day I stood in the Cave and I prayed, praised be G-d for everything. And these two days, the sixth (when he prayed on Temple Mount in Jerusalem) and the ninth of Mar-Cheshvan I vowed to make as a special holiday and in which I will rejoice with prayer, food and drink. May the Lord help me to keep my vows…At the edge of the field is the house of Abraham, And it is forbidden to build a home there, in respect to Abraham."
      Eight hundred and forty four years ago today, one of Judaism's greatest scholars arrived in Hebron, following his visit to Jerusalem. One can only imagine his excitement, standing next to the caves of Machpela, worshiping adjacent to the graves of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. Perhaps we can sense a little of his exhilaration through his words, by vowing to mark his visit to Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and Ma'arat HaMachpela in Hebron, as an eternal, personal holiday.
      Reading the Rambam's account, and feeling some of his awe, I ask myself, do people today, eight and half centuries later, still experience the same wonder when visiting such holy sites such as Temple Mount and Ma'arat HaMachpela.
      A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine told me the following story:
      Several years ago a famous Rabbi visited Hebron with many of his disciples. Upon arriving, he told his Hebron host, "I almost didn't come." When asked why, what was the problem, the Rabbi answered: "When the famous holy Rabbi Chaim ben Atar (known as the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh) traveled to the city of Meron (in the Galil) to the tomb of Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, renowned Jewish scholar and mystic who lived during the Talmudic era, author of the Zohar), he first imposed upon himself many hardships and suffering, by fasting, by rolling in the snow, and other physical afflictions, in order to purify himself before approaching the holy Rashbi's cave. Then, when he reached Meron, he crawled on his hands and legs to the site itself, out of fear and awe."
      The Rabbi continued: Knowing this, how could I dare allow myself to visit the caves of Machpela, the tomb of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs?!"
      His host looked at him and asked, "but you are here – you came anyhow."
      The Rabbi answered, "Yes, I did come. I decided that it is permissible to visit your father and mother, even if your clothes are stained and dirty."
      A poignant story, but with a very profound message. Ma'arat HaMachpela - Hebron, is not only the home the founders of our people, the roots of Judaism and all monotheism, the beginning of modern 'civilized' civilization. Hebron is the home of our mothers and fathers, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa – that simple, that deep. Mommy and Daddy will always welcome their children home, notwithstanding anything!
      I have the honor and privilege to work with many different people and groups, Jews and gentiles, youth and the elderly, people from all over the globe. My tours are fairly standard; I try to express the same values and information to everyone; it makes little difference to me who they are or what the represent. The material to be imparted is not only 'information' – it is much more that that – it is the essence of our very existence.
      There are those people have heard some of it before. Others know almost nothing. But when they leave, almost undoubtedly, their lives have changed.
      Not too long ago an Israeli man in his 40s visited here. He came in with a friend, and told me that he'd never been to Hebron, despite it only being an hour and a half from Tel Aviv. He also admitted that he didn't know why he had bothered to come. But, after two and a half hours of touring, he told me, 'now I'm starting to understand what's going on. I'd never understood it before.'
      What did he understand? I'm sure some of the 'political issues' that always make the news had suddenly come alive. But his words didn't just reflect politics; they reflected an inner spiritual awakening: Hebron- this is me!
      Earlier today I toured with a group of teenagers from a youth organization. About 18 years old, these kids all knew they were Jewish. But most of them didn't know a whole lot more that that, especially about Hebron. As we starting touring it was very difficult for them to listen to me; they were more interested in talking to each other. I found it frustrating and irritating, and numerous times asked them to either stop their private conversations or leave the group.
      But by the time we'd reached the Avraham Avinu neighborhood they were starting to pay attention. And when we arrived at Ma'arat HaMachpela, our last stop, they were listening. I knew that something had clicked when, telling the story of how, in 1981, a group of Jewish men were able to actually enter the authentic Machpela caves themselves, one of the young women, her mouth open and her eyes sparkling, mouthed, 'wow!'
      I don't know how much she knew about Hebron and Machpela before this trip, but I have no doubt whatsoever that the few hours here left an indelible mark on her soul.
      That is, I think, what the Rambam so succinctly expressed in the paragraph quoted at the beginning of this article.
      This is one of our major goals in Hebron – to bring Hebron alive and to the masses, to make this holy city and these holy sites accessible to all people. Many are able to actually visit these sites; others can 'virtually attend,' via our website. This is one of our goals: to bring Hebron and Ma'arat HaMachpela to as many people as possible throughout the world, to bring everyone home to Mom and Dad!
      People frequently ask how they can be a part of our mission. Presently, I have two answers: We've begun a project allowing people to become honorary citizens of Hebron. We request a minimum donation of $50. All new citizens will receive a beautiful personal certificate and updated information about Hebron. Details can be seen at http://www.hebron.com/english/article.php?id=564.
      In addition, in less than one month the New York-based Hebron Fund will host its annual Dinner. The funds raised at this event allow Hebron's Jewish community to continue to work on behalf of the Jewish people, keeping Hebron and Ma'arat HaMachpela accessible to anyone and everyone. Details can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/yjvb95o. If you can attend, great! If not, you can still select a 'Scroll of Honor Dedication" and contribute to the continued growth and development of the Jewish Community of Hebron.
      Happy Hebron-Rambam Day!

      Cheshvan 5, 5770, 10/23/2009

      Kol HaKavod to the IDF's Healthy soldiers

      These are our true fighters, motivated and talented, willing to give their lives for their land, their people and their G-d.
      Arutz 7 in Hebrew screened a short video showing yesterday's swearing-in ceremony of soldiers from the Kfir infantry brigade at the Kotel in Jerusalem. Such ceremonies are usually very emotional, with family members and friends attending, as the new soldiers complete their basic training.

      Such a ceremony is very symbolic, with the new soldiers proclaiming their willingness to give their lives for their people and for their country. However, in recent years soldiers have been called on to betray their land, Eretz Yisrael. Such orders given to expel Jews from their homes and their land are still being issued and implemented. Recently soldiers from the Shimshon unit of Kfir have been ordered to expel Jews from Homesh 10 times, including on Shabbat, Rosh HaShana Eve, and Yom Kippur Eve.

      Yesterday, the newly inducted warriors declared their allegiance, not only to the State of Israel, but also the Eretz Yisrael and to G-d, by waving banners, during the ceremony, which read, "No to expulsions from Homesh." Family members and friends in the attending audience also waved such banners, which were forcibly taken by police and security forces at the site.

      Thank G-d for such brave, healthy young men, who understand the value of Eretz Yisrael and the value of saying 'no' to such illegal commands, ordering expulsion of Jews from their land and home. Yesterday's act was particularly significant, taking place at the Kotel, adjacent the the holiest place in the world, Har HaBayit - Temple Mount and the Holy-of-Holies. 

      It's no secret the previous Prime Ministers have offered this very site to our enemies, who claim it as their own. These soldiers have made it clear: We will not have any part of expulsions, evictions, or other such immoral actions, in Homesh, Jerusalem or anywhere else.

      The army is threatening to dismiss these soldiers from the IDF following 'suitable punishment.' What a waste! These are our true fighters, motivated and talented, willing to give their lives for their land, their people and their
      G-d.  This is the real IDF.

      Kol HaKavod!!!





      Cheshvan 3, 5770, 10/21/2009

      Arab at Ma'arat HaMachpela:Tony Blair is 'a terrorist'


      Hebron: Palestinian calls Blair 'a terrorist'

      Oct. 20, 2009
      JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

      Palestinian guards in Hebron stopped a man who hurled abuse at EU special Mideast envoy Tony Blair on Tuesday, Israel Radio reported.

      The man, who Reuters reported was carrying a bag, yelled at Blair, calling him "a terrorist."

      The man also shouted, "He is not welcome in the land of Palestine," according to Reuters.

      Blair was quoted as telling reporters after the incident, "You know, he made his protest and that's fair enough."

      The former UK prime minister escaped the attack without injury.

      This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1256037267209&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull