More than 1,500 worshippers made their way to Kever Yosef (Joseph's Tomb) on Sunday night. Soldiers accompanied worshippers to the tomb, located in Samaria, near the city of Ariel.
Many soldiers also joined in the prayers. Those who were present said it was an emotionally charged event, and more than a few participants were moved to tears.
The crowd included renowned rabbis, among them Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Ifergan, who is known as “the X-Ray rabbi” for his ability to diagnose medical complaints, Rabbi Shalom Arush, and Rabbi Elyakim Levanon.
Sunday night was a significant night according to Jewish mystic philosophy. In these weeks, during the days between the Pesach (Passover) and Shavuot (Pentecost) holidays, Jews are commanded to count the Omer, a measure of grain. The forty-first day of the Omer, which began on Sunday evening, is linked in mystic thought to the sefira (state) of “yesod of yesod,” a level associated with the Biblical Joseph.
Sunday's event was marred somewhat by the state in which worshippers found the holy tomb. Soot marks blackened much of the structure, and its dome had been shattered by Arabs. Several parts of the building smelled strongly of urine.
Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika was present and thanked the IDF for securing the prayers. He called for a more regular Jewish presence at the tomb, in order to prevent further desecration.
"The people of Israel yearns to return to Joseph's Tomb and to renew our presence here, something permitted even by the wretched Oslo Accords,” Mesika said. Israel must learn from Joseph, he continued. “I hope the state can draw strength from the righteous Joseph, from this father of our nation who was a true leader, in order to stand up for our sovereignty with pride – in Jerusalem and Samaria, against both enemy and friend.”