Uniting with the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
“המלאך הגואל אותי מכל רע יברך את הנערים ויקרא בהם שמי ושם אבותי אברהם ויצחק”
“Blessed are You HaShem our God and the God of our Fathers, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitzhak, and the God of Yaakov… Blessed are You HaShem the Shield of Avraham.” “The Holy Presence rests with the Forefathers” (Zohar) – thus our Forefathers’ crucial role in our prayers is seen in many ways. The number of daily prayers Shaharit, Minha, and Maariv are taken in inspiration from the three prayers of our three fathers.
The obligation of intent is concentrated in our prayers, ‘service of the heart’, to one blessing alone (to most opinions) – ‘the blessing of the Forefathers’. Even the number of blessings – 18 – is taken, according to the Yerushalmi Talmud, from the number of times these three fathers appear together in the Torah, this week’s title quote being the first of them. We can infer from this source that it is especially when the Patriarchs are together that they have such spiritual power calling for an additional blessing in the Amida.
Similarly, the importance of unity is seen again in this week’s parsha when Yaakov calls all his sons together to his death-bed in order to tell them what will happen in ‘the end of days’. The brothers are united yet again around the coffin of Yaakov in leading him to Hebron-Maarat HaMachpela in the Land of Israel, to such an extent that our Sages remark that they carried Yaakov’s coffin in the exact same order that their tribes were destined to surround the Holy Ark on the way to the Land of Israel in the Wilderness many years later. This teaching sheds light on how the keys to unity of our People lie in our common roots to our Patriarchs, and also through our common connection to the Land of Israel. Indeed, on the term ‘talpiot’ in Shir HaShirim our Sages interpret as referring to the ‘mound’-‘tel’-Zion, to which all mouths – ‘piot” – turn to in prayer, as it is mandatory for all in the Diaspora to turn towards the Land of Israel in prayer.This power of unity is also a dominant factor in the effectiveness of our prayers, as our sages learn from the verse ‘God will not disdain the (prayer) of multitudes’ (Job 36, 5), a fundamental concept that runs through much of the laws of prayer, as in the necessity of a minyan for prayer, a synagogue for prayer, and the like.
All these concepts come together so perfectly in Hebron, the destination of the brother’s united journey to the Holy Land to bury their holy father, completing the complete corrum of the three Patriarchs among whom the Holy Presence rests.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #101:
“One night our son fell from our bed and started to vomit, so we took him to the doctor who said that he has an ear infection. This seemed improbable especially since he had no fever. The next day he vomited again in his class, so out of alarm of these un-explainable events, we took him to the hospital. When we reached the hospital, we were told that actually our son has a cyst in his brain which needs an emergency surgery, and if we had not come just at that time because of this seemingly minor issue he would have been in serious risk…”
Sources: Orah Haim 101, 1, Brachot 26a, Yerushlami 33b