By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
And You Shall Count
“Blessed are You HaShem our God Master of the Universe Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to count the Omer.”
Every year, during the Omer Count, we also read the parshiot of Emor and Behar-Behukotai which also mention a process of counting seven times seven leading up to the number fifty. This process is either on a daily basis, such as in the Omer Count, or on a yearly basis, such as in the Shemita and Yovel cycle. This past year, and also this coming year echo this process of counting on a national level. This past year we celebrated fifty years since the return of Judea and Samaria to the hands of Israel since the Six Day War. This coming year, we celebrate fifty years since the actual return of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, beginning with Hebron. What is the relationship between these two counts?
Definitely, when one contemplates the events of the Six Day War one is taken by awe by the many miracles that occurred during this war and its aftermath. However, not any less miraculous, and a sign of Divine Aid, is the fact that our People took the courage to actually settle Judea and Samaria, braving all the odds for these five decades. This message is indeed the message of Hebron, where this settlement of these lands began fifty years ago. This is the City of Courage from which Kaleb drew his courage to speak on behalf of the Holy Land, despite the spies who spoke otherwise. Today, as we celebrate fifty years since the actual settlement of Judea and Samaria, is the time to strengthen our ties with the power of Hebron, to realize, awaken, and shine the light of human initiative and bravery. “And you shall count” – it is through our counting and through our gradual work on behalf of the Holy Presence in our Holy Land that HaShem will allow us to achieve “and you shall sanctify the fiftieth (day/year)”. Therefore, we turn to you, our dear reader – yes, it is you who can make all the difference in hastening our coming Redemption. Seize the day, know the goodness and light of your soul, and shine that light through the Light of Hebron!
On Lag BaOmer many have the custom of lighting a bonfire, indicative of the shining light of the holy tannaic master, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai, author of the holy Zohar. One of the important families of Hebron, who accentuated Hebron’s spiritual light through the teachings of Rashbi’s Zohar, the Kabbalah, and the closely related Hassidic movement, was the Slonim Family of Habad Hasidism. One important members of this family was Rabbi Yakov Yosef Slonim. Rabbi Yakov Yosef was born in 5640 (1880) in Hebron, where he also grew up and developed Habad Hasidism. When the Rebbe of Habad, Rabbi Shalom Duber, established the “Torat Emet” yeshiva in Hebron, Rabbi Yakov Yosef became a vital figure in its development, making this yeshiva a model and inspiration to the entire Jewish world. Rabbi Yakov Yosef also became the chief rabbi of the Ashkenazic community of Hebron, and he led this community both through times of prosperity and through dire times such as during the First World War and the Tarpat Massacre. Today too, it is no question that the return of Habad Hasidism to Hebron is due to the deep ties of the Slonim family to Hebron generally, and to Rabbi Yakov Yosef specifically.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #263
“I was just about to press the buttons on my cellphone to call a certain rabbi. Just then, this rabbi called me…”
Comments, questions, and/or stories, email [email protected]