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Ask the Rabbi
News & Call-In with Tamar Yonah
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 33 years. They lived in Kiryat Arba for 17 years and have resided at Beit Hadassah in Hebron for the past 14 years. They have seven children and many grandchildren.
Links to sites David recommends:
(others to be added)
Hanukkah is a holiday of light and faith. A little light pushes away a lot of darkness. A little faith displaces much doubt
‘(After the war) …the Jewish leaders strengthened Jerusalem and refused to allow the enemy to raise his head. When the enemy leader saw that the Jews were strong, he feared them and began moving his large army. The Jewish leaders suspected the enemy and also began moving his army too. When the enemy saw the huge Jewish army he decided to act utilizing deception. He sent representatives with kind words, promised not to harm them, and invited them to a meal with him. The Jewish leader believed the deceptive promises, sent his soldiers home, and arrived with little protection. The enemy leader entrapped him, captured him, and after a few days, murdered him and his sons.
This was the tragic end of the Jewish hero who was victorious in war but was slain when he believe the deceptive words of his enemy’.
Who is this tragic Jewish leader, felled by words and promises of peace? Sounds very familiar, no? We’ve been hearing these deceptions for how many years now? This could be written and titled the ‘annals of Oslo.’ But no, this story is slightly older than Oslo, Rabin, Peres, Sharon, Olmert, Livni and the others. The above paragraph is an approximate translation from Dr. Haggi Ben-Artzi’s publication called the Scroll of Hanukkah, based upon the “Books of the Maccabees” The leader, murdered by the Greek Tarifon, was none other than Yonatan, one of the five sons of Mattetayhu, who liberated Beit HaMikdash and Eretz Yisrael from the Greeks. This truly heroic warrior feel for the trick. He believed the call for peace. But after it happened then, well over 2,000 years ago, why do we, Am Yisrael, continue to fall prey to the same exact scenario? The only factors that have changed are the names and the nationality of the enemy. Otherwise, the situation is virtually identical. Yet we continue to send home the soldiers, only to be stabbed in the back.
Yesterday we all read Ehud Olmert’s ‘peace plan, offered to today’s Tarifon, called Abu Mazen or Mahmud Abbas, so-called president of the Palestinian terrorist organization. Thank G-d, just as in Egypt, God hardened Pharoh’s heart, so too, with Abu Mazen, who rejected Olmert’s offer, which included expulsion of tens and tens and more tens of thousands of Jews, and destruction of places such as Hebron, Kiryat Arba and many more communities in Judea and Samaria. There are no words. It is totally unbelievable, incomprehensible.
This week, the week of Hanukkah, the holiday of revealed miracle, we witnessed other such disasters, such as Barak’s frontal attack on religious Judaism (shades of Hellenized Jews). Another example of anti-Jewish, selective law enforcement happened here in Hebron, only two days ago. Kiryat Arba resident Ofer Ochana was detained by police and interrogated because he dared to play Jewish music from loudspeakers atop the Gutnick Center, outside Ma’arat HaMachpela. Following the interrogation he was warned that should he again sound music from the loudspeakers, he would be immediately arrested.
The organization for Human Rights in Yesha, led by Hebron’s Orit Struck, wrote a letter to police officials and others, questioning this action, accusing them of ‘selective law enforcement: “For years Jewish worshipers at the Cave of the Patriarchs have complained about the unreasonable and illegal noise of loudspeakers sounding the Muslim calls to prayer into the area assigned exclusively for Jewish worship, and in the Machpela courtyard. There is no need for this because these areas are not used for Muslim prayer (excepting 10 days a year). Two years ago a professional examination was carried out in order to measure the noise level compared to conventional criteria. The results, delivered to the Hevron DCO reported that ‘if the regulations to prevent hazards (unreasonable noise) from 1990 were applied in this case, the noise levels recorded very highly exceed permissible levels….Your action yesterday can only be defined as selective law enforcement, represents serious denial of freedom of expression and freedom of worship, and only encourages violent reactions. I ask you to explain why this extreme step was taken and, why you do not enforce the law equally, allowing freedom of expression and worship equally to the two religions.” (See full text http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/135075 )
Let’s keep in mind that the building atop the caves of Machpela was built by Herod some 600 years before Muhammad was born, but that makes no difference to a confused Hellenized Israel leadership, who prefer to not to follow in the footsteps of the Maccabees. Such a decree is preposterous.
Then again, there are miracles today, as there were then. Today, the eve of the last night of Hanukkah, 20 year old Tzviya Sariel was released from jail, after being held for over 45 days because she refused to identify herself and cooperate with the ‘authorities’ following expulsion from an ‘illegal settlement’ outside Migron in the Binyamin region. When the judge ordered her release the state appealed to a Municipal court – releasing this little terrorist is unheard of! – but the judge overruled the appeal and tonight, finally, she’ll be able to participate in candle-lighting with her family. A true Hanukkah miracle.
This week in Hebron we witnesses another kind of Jewish hero. Visiting with us was Dmitiry Salita, a 27 year old Russian born Jew, presently living in Brooklyn with his new wife Alona. Last week Salita competed for the World Boxing Association’s welterweight championship. (It was the first match he ever lost.) A Ba’al Tshuva (a Jew returning to observant, orthodox Judaism) at the age of 14, Dmitiry began boxing a year earlier and is today, one of the best in the world. True, it is unusual to find Jewish boxers, especially orthodox ones, but when I asked him about this he said, ‘G-d gives people different talents. This is mine and through boxing I can, in my way, further Israel and Judaism.’ Salita’s boxing trunks are adorned with a Magen David, a star of David. (The interview with Dmitiry Salita can be seen at: http://www.hebron.com/english/article.php?id=605 together with a sparring match here in Hebron.
I’m not sure I’d ever want to be a boxer, or get into the ring with Dmitiry Salita, but seeing a Jew with no fear, willing to get into that ring, leaves me with a feeling of pride and honor.
Hanukkah is a holiday of light and faith. A little light pushes away a lot of darkness. A little faith displaces much doubt. One last miracle. Lately the ‘human rights’ organization, B’tzelem, has requested that a representative from Hebron speak with groups they bring into the city. (That, in and of itself is a miracle!) I spoke with one of those groups not too long ago, for about 25 minutes, answering their questions. One of the women on the group was kind enough to record the conversation and transcribe it. The transcription isn’t 100% accurate, but, relatively speaking, it’s not bad. The last question I was asked dealt with whether or not we, in Hebron, had failed in achieving our goals. My answer, as she transcribed it:
Look, success and failure are very relative. If you’re asking me, do I think we’ve failed? No, I don’t think we’ve failed. The fact that I live here today, as far as I’m concerned is a success. The fact that there are things we haven’t succeeded to do, there are ups and there are downs, we’ve been exiled from Israel for the last 2000 years, Hebron for the last 700 years. It’s very difficult to get everything. There are problems and there are issues we have to deal with, sometimes you’re able to achieve what you want, sometimes it takes long to achieve what you want. I think that most of the goals you’re trying to achieve, you eventually will achieve. I don’t believe that God brought us back after 2000 years to throw us out again.
I know it sounds weird but I think our presence today in Israel everywhere – in Hebron, in Tel Aviv, in Haifa or Be’er Sheba is a miracle, it’s also a miracle, because if anybody here had been behind the fences in Auschwitz in 1944 and someone came and poked you on the shoulder and on one side there’s chimneys and smoke and the other side of that there’s fences, and somebody says ‘you know something, don’t worry about it, everything’s going to be ok, in another 40 years we’re going to have a Jewish state and there are going to be people that come and invade us, and we’re going to win’, then the guy would look at you and say ‘you’re nuts, you’re out of your mind, you need to wake up! This is the fence and we can’t get out and there’s the smoke and that’s it’. And we’re here today. And if that’s not a miracle, nothing is. 1967 was a miracle, 1973 was a larger miracle and – I don’t have time now – but I can give you miracles that happen here in Hebron one after the other after the other. You know, it’s tangible, you can touch it.
Do I think that we have problems? Of course we have problems. There are things we haven’t succeeded, we haven’t succeeded perhaps in explaining ourselves well enough. But in order to be able to express yourself you have to have a form in which to express yourself. We know where the media is, the Israeli media and the world media and that’s one of the ways I ask you also... And I do thank you very much for this opportunity because in most cases groups like this that come in aren’t interested in even hearing what the other side have to say and I think it’s very praiseworthy that despite differences of opinion that are huge there’s a willingness at least to allow people to hear a little bit of another side and I think that’s important and significant and so I thank you for that. But do I think I’ve failed. It’s difficult but whether I call that failure, no.
Wishing all of you continued light, enabling you to see the miracles that occur all the time, even after Hanukkah is over.
With blessings from Hebron.