This past Shabbat I took part in what I sense is a growing trend , "Shabbat of the Torah portion Vayishlach" in Bet El.
Bet El took the idea from its sister bibical site and pioneer community - Hevron, where tens of thousands gather each year on the "Shabbat of the Torah portion Caye Sarah" commemorating the purchase of that famous site by Abraham.
It was in Bet El that our patriarch, Jacob, on the run from his vengeful brother Eisav, lied down to sleep placing a stone under his head. That is where he had the famous dream of ladders and angels. When he awoke, he received God's promise for his safety while in exile and a guranteee of the Land of Israel for his descendents.
As a tour guide, I encourage my guests to visit these sites, cradles of our history, faith and pride.
Part of the Shabbat program included a tour of the archeological remains uncovered near the place where Jacob slept. Not bad. Where were you on Shabbat ? Oh , I visited the place where Jacob was visited by God. How many centuries was this just a page in our Bible? Today it is an accessable and integral part of our renewed home land and renewed people.
Ah, the people of Bet El.. True sos of Israel/Jacob
I was hosted by an amazng family, early pioneers of the renewed Jewish presence in this ancient site.
If Jacob protected himself from the wild animals of the night by surrounding him self with stones, his children today also live within fences as the dangers lurk just beyond - where the houses of Ramallah and terror loom.
My hosts were a poster family for the miracle of Israel's rebrth. He, light complexioned , from LA. She, very dark from India. Their seven beautiful - (none resembling their dad ) either in elite amy units or preparing themselves to serve the people of Israel - the leaders of tommorow no doubt. At the table, we were discussing a particular incident in the Bible. Their eight year old son helped us with the source we were looking for. They truly live their Bible form a very early age. Yes, these are the one's who stand in the way of peace in the Mid East and perhaps the whole world. Just ask Obama and Kerry..
Did you know that the Temple of Yeroban Ben Navot was found near the site of Jacob''s dream .Makes snse. Yeroban broke away from the Kingdom of Judah and set up his own competing temple next to the holy and popular site. With the golden calf in Bet El on his southern border, he challanged the authority of Jerusalem. Those temple remains have been found!
It is no surprise that the Christians and Muslims have buit their shrines next to the site where Jacob slept.And because it was holy to so many, they all left the lone oak tree nesr by standing - for over one tousand years - the oldest in Israel!
First and Second temple period burial caves , and wine vats and oil vats are icing on the cake.
Actually the cherry on the cake are the amazing pioneers who have returned to this hallowed ground after two thousand years. This is more than proof of the past, this is prophesy, this is the fututrre today.
On the bus from Jerusalem to Bet El, the driver , who was a local resident took a personal interest in the passangers who needed to get off at a particualr address. Jolly, patient , he was the calling card of the spirit of the destination and final port.
He took good care of me and let me off where he believed I needed. As I alighted from the bus I was greeted by a stranger (turns out he lived a few blocks from me in Brooklyn before we both came home to Israel). He saw that I was looking about , seeking direction. He asked me for the name of my hosts - and said hop in to his car. Next thing I knew I was in the lap of the most gracious hosts.
After shabbat dinner ( it was really a pity to have to swallow the food ..) . I went to the synagoge for study. Upon leaving - I got lost.. Lukily ,three local girls were chatting and i told them I was lost . What do you think they did? Of course, like our Matriarchs... showered me with kindness and accompanied me back to my hosts safe and sound. These are the settlers, threats to peace! Remember the Bizzarro world comics? This is it The world is topsy turvey. But do you know what? This too is a prophesy. The prophet said " In the time of redemption, good will be called bad and bad will be called good"
I have indeed experinced the good - and the bad? A mere stone's throw from the fence of Bet El , and God's promise to Jacob.
Worth a visit
What a country!