Balak 2019

Parshat Balak
By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron


לשכנו תדרשו
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land

Therefore I Give Him My Covenant of Peace

From Hashem’s blessing of peace to Pinehas upon his strides towards purity in the beginning of this parsha we see that there is a direct connection between purity and peace. Purity and peace are also strongly connected to the concept “covenant,” as can be seen in the words “covenant of peace” in our title quote. One who has pure motives and actions can be truly faithful to an agreement. Many ask today, “how can we make sure that our offspring will stay faithful to the path of Judaism?” One important answer to this question lies with the concepts of purity and covenant, i.e staying steadfast towards commitment in general and towards Judaism in specific. With the same token an atmosphere of peace is also essential for us to cultivate a feeling of harmony and ultimately dedication with all matters in general and with Jewish values in specific.

The concept of purity is also greatly linked to the Land of Israel, as in the words of our Sages: ‘the Land of Israel is pure, and its mikvaot are (also) pure’. These words teach us that one, the Land of Israel is pure and free of rabbinical impurity ordained on the lands of the Diaspora, and two, that a randomly found mikva in the Land of Israel is rendered a kosher mikva (which is not the case in the Diaspora). Although the first rule about the Land in general is valid even today, the poskim note that the second rule about a mikva applies ‘only when Israel are present on their Land’. Therefore, in the Shulhan Aruch, written when a small portion of Israel dwelled in the Land, no stipulation is made, and all randomly found mikvaot are rendered invalid. With this, we shall leave the ruling upon the present situation when Israel has been returning to the Land to competent halachic authorities. This purity of the Land is especially potent in Hebron, as we are taught in ‘Shaar HaHatzer’ (by R. David Ben Shimon zt’l) that one who learns Torah in Hebron rectifies the covenant and achieves purity.

Real Stories from the Holy Land #325

 “When Maarat Hamchpela was accessed freely by Jews, before the Muslims limited their access, there used to be a gabbai who held heavy chain of keys to the gates of Maarat Hamachpela. Then, there was gabbai of Maarat Hamachpela named Yitzhak, a modest and poor man who had an only daughter named Dina. When Dina got engaged, Yitzhak spent the last coins of his income on a bridal dress for his daughter. However, the gold necklace that it was customary in Hebron for the bride to wear Yitzhak could not afford. In those days when a bride did not wear this gold necklace everyone knew that the bride was stricken of poverty, and some of those brides even left the wedding feast out of embarrassment. During the days before the wedding Yitzhak walked around all day vexed in pain, saying “why should my daughter be in pain on her wedding day?” One night Dina saw herself in a dream at the entrance of Maarat Hamchpela with her father’s heavy chain of keys to the gates of Maarat Hamachpela. There, an elderly woman all dressed in white approached Dina and told her: “See, my daughter, your wedding day is approaching, and this key chain you are holding shall be your bridal necklace, more valuable than any gold, silver, or diamond necklace in the world.” Then, the elderly woman disappeared suddenly. Dina did not tell her father the dream, but on her wedding day she summoned her father to the room where the chain of keys lay, there she asked to wear the chain of keys as her bridal necklace. Then, when Dina came to the huppa adorned with the chain of keys to the Maara, all proclaimed, “behold, see how beautiful Dina is, sevenfold more beautiful than all the brides that wear gold or silver with precious stones.” From that day onwards all brides in Hebron ceased to wear necklaces of gold, silver, or precious stones, but rather all adorned themselves with the heavy chain of keys to the gates of Maarat Hamchpela.”

Sefer Hebron p. 311

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