By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
And I Shall Listen
“Please, King, full of compassion: I have come today to the Holy City of Hebron, may it be rebuilt speedily… to ask from our King… that He have compassion upon us… And if because of the Babylonian Exile, which lasted only seventy years, the Forefathers of the world made such commotion (to end it – as brought by our Sages), what shall we say about this bitter exile of more than 1900 years that we… are in exile after exile downtrodden and ashamed… Therefore, we have come before You… that You should remember the merit of our holy Forefathers… so that You should have compassion upon us… and end our Exile…” (Prayer recited at Maarat HaMachpela as brought in Shaarei Dima) The Redemption is tightly linked to Hebron according to the Zohar which determines: “at that time (the “end of days”) the three Patriarchs will adjoin with might, and Truah, Shvarim, Tkiah will be sounded, and with them the “the earth shall shake”, and this will be in the “end of days”, and all these miracles will be in the Land of Israel, for there is located Hebron where the Patriarchs are buried.”(Tikunei Zohar 13, 28b) The “sounds of Redemption” will be heard in the future from Hebron. Nevertheless these “sounds” can still be heard even today by those who listen attentively.
The month of Tamuz corresponds to the tribe of Reuven, according to the Arizal, while the following month of Av corresponds to the tribe of Shimon. Shimon’s mother, Leah, called him this name because she said: “Hashem has heard [“Shama” as in Shimon] that I am hated and has therefore given me also this one.” Not only from Shimon’s connection to the month of Av do we learn about this month’s association with “hearing/listening,” but also from the Kabbalistic work “Sefer Yetzira” which determines that the sense of “hearing” is associated with the month of Av.
The Midrash Raba in parshat Naso explains that each tribe brought a different intention to their offering during the inauguration of the Mishkan, even though in practice each tribe brought the exact same offering. Interestingly, the intention of the tribe of Shimon was to bring an offering which alludes to the Mishkan/Beit Hamikdash, a matter which reminds us remarkably of Tisha B’Av, the day of mourning for the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash. The reason the tribe of Shimon had its intention directed toward the Mishkan/Beit Hamikdash, according to the Midrash Raba, is because Shimon was the leading tribe to enact retribution on the people of Shechem for defiling his sister, Dina. In a similar sense, says the Midrash, the Mishkan/Beit Hamikdash enacts retribution, through its participation in the process of Sotah, which deals with those who committed adultery.
Based on these sources, we ask: is there a connection between “listening”, Shimon, the Beit Hamikdash, enacting retribution on impurity, and the month of Av? The Beit Hamikdash is the primary resting place of the Holy Presence upon earth. It is because of this “Holy Presence” that there is a very high sensitivity to impurity, which stands in direct opposition to this Presence, as it says “for the [Holy Presence] walks in the midst of your camp… and your camp shall be holy and no nakedness shall be seen in your midst, which causes the [Holy Presence] to depart from you.” (Dvarim 23, 15) Therefore, it is clear why retribution upon impurity is such an integral part of the Beit Hamikdash, causing specifically the tribe of Shimon to bring their offering with the intent towards the Beit Hamikdash. “Listening” – “lishmoa”, in Hebrew, also has a connotation of “receiving.” Similarly, the Holy Presence represents our “reception” of the Godly Light upon earth. This beautifully explains the Mashiach’s answer to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi’s question, “when will Mashiach come?” To this, the Mashiach answers: “today, if you listen to His voice.” This “listening” does not mean that it is our responsibility to “enact retribution on the impurity” of others. Rather, we should take the power of “listening” to “hear” and empathize with the soul of our fellowman in his difficulty, to awaken compassion in our hearts to aid him and us to purify our hearts, so that indeed we shall all merit to “receive” the Holy Presence in our midst in general and in the Beit Hamikdash specifically.
“Listening” deeply to each other ultimately leads us to unity among us and also between us and HaShem through the Holy Presence that rests in such an atmosphere. This unity is the message of Hebron, which unites us all through its sounds of the shofar, Tekia – Avraham, Shevarim – Yitzhak, Teruah – Yakov. “On that day a great Shofar will be blown and all lost will come from the land of Ashur and the deserted from the land of Egypt and bow to Hashem on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.”
One of the events, in the past century, that shook our People to “listen” more deeply to Hashem’s “call” was the Tarpat Massacre in Hebron. The leading rabbi of Hebron who was murdered in this massacre was Rabbi Hanoch Hasson hy”d. Rabbi Hasson was born in Hebron in 5627 (1867). In 5644 he married the daughter of the “Rif”, head of the beit din of Hebron. In 5660 (1900) he was sent as an emissary on behalf of Hebron’s Jewish community. Later, he became a judge in the beit din of Hebron and also became the “right hand” of Hebron’s chief rabbi, Rabbi Hizkiya Medini, also publishing the latter’s monumental work, “Sdey Hemed.” After the passing of Rabbi Saliman Mani, Rabbi Hasson was considered the head of Hebron’s beit din. Rabbi Hasson was murdered in the Tarpat Massacre, along with his wife, at the age of 63, and is buried in Hebron’s Ancient Cemetery.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #272
“I grew up in Kiryat Arba, but my parents sold their house there and we moved to a different location. Many years later, I was dating a man from Kiryat Arba. “It turns out ”that he lived in the same house I did, for his parents bought the house from my parents! We married and live in Kiryat Arba today.”
Sources: Sefer Hebron p. 130
Comments, questions, and/or stories, email [email protected]