Discovering the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
יערכנו לפני ה’… ברית עולם
“Blessed are You HaShem our God King of the Universe Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us on the counting of the Omer.” The 49-day Omer period is a period of anticipation and spiritual ascent towards the 50th day, the holiday of Shavuot, when we receive the Torah when we feel as if we are standing today at Mount Sinai. In truth, every day of the year we are supposed to feel that on that day we received the Torah, as our Sages interpret the verse ‘that I command you today’ means that ‘every day one should see the Torah as new (as if receiving it today)’. Nevertheless, we see, as in many of the mitzot of the Torah, that the Torah calls us at special auspicious times to pay special attention to the relevance of Torah to our lives, and thus we can more greatly appreciate the special ‘Giving of the Torah’ on Shavuot every year.
Indeed, also on a national level we can contemplate the significance of the 50th year of the Liberation of Jerusalem, Hebron and greater Judea, Samaria and Gaza during the Six Day War. In the past we have explained the significance of the number 50 as representing the supernatural, thereby signifying the Giving of the Torah, which is considered by our Sages to be the superseding and supernatural ‘blueprint’ of our natural world. Also, we explained in the past that the Jubilee is coined in the Zohar as pertaining to the ‘Upper Land’ versus the ‘Lower Land’ which pertains to the number seven. Although we will not discuss these concepts in depth as we did in the past, we will suffice by saying that the Jubilee year not only touches on the supernatural but it also touches on the highly – ‘Upper’ – spiritual aspects of the ‘Land’ of Israel. In this way, we may make special effort on this Jubilee year of our Land’s Liberation to contemplate the ‘blueprinting’ of the Torah on what we are experiencing in regard to our Holy Land.
One contemplation pertains to the auspicious timing of Jerusalem’s Liberation Day and Hebron’s Liberation Day on the seventh week of the Omer Count. Many, even though they do not call themselves kabbalists, mention at the Omer Count the kabbalistic ‘sefirot’ corresponding to the day of the Omer they just counted. The last week of the Omer corresponds to the ‘sefira’ of ‘malchut’ or ‘majesty/kingship’. According to the Kabbalists this ‘sefira’ is especially connected to the concepts of earth, land and especially the Holy Land (a discussion of the meaning of this is out of scope for this dvar Torah). Therefore, it is not surprising that the highly spiritually important cities of this Land, Jerusalem and Hebron, were both liberated during this last week of the Omer. Nevertheless, there is a difference between Jerusalem and Hebron in regard to the specific days of this last week of the Omer. Jerusalem’s Liberation Day is attributed the ‘hesed’/’kindness’ of this last week of the Omer (‘malcut’), while Hebron’s Liberation Day corresponds to the ‘gevura’/’justly mightiness’ of this last week of the Omer (‘malchut’). We may say that Jerusalem represents in this context the attribute of Divine kindness as Jerusalem is the Holiest Divine City and special Divine aid and kindness from above is befitting her. On the other hand, in this context (in other contexts Hebron may actually represent the attribute of ‘kindness’) Hebron represents the attribute of ‘mightiness’ which calls for ‘justly earning’ the Land through human effort. Indeed, Hebron was the first city, within the lands liberated during the Six Day War, to be settled under considerable human effort despite all the odds [of course, even this success is due to HaShem’s kindness].
‘Covenant’ is a major concept in regard to the Holy Land, as we say in the ‘blessing on the Land’ in the Blessing after Meals. This means that a major part of our ability to connect ourselves to this Land and the Holy Presence therein lies with keeping our ‘covenant’ with HaShem. This also means that an important part of HaShem’s covenant to us through our Patriarchs of Hebron lies with the granting of the Holy Land to us. In other words, there is a dual covenant in regard to the Holy Land – our part of the covenant, and HaShem’s part of the covenant. One Chamber of Maaras HaMachpela is called the ‘Chamber of the Covenants’ (‘Ulam HaBritot’). This name, in the plural, can remind us of the dual covenant between HaShem and our People through the Patriarchs who lie here at Maaras HaMachpela. This name may also remind us of both the covenant of the Patriarchs and also of the covenant formed in Hebron with David, the archetype of Messiah and builder of Jerusalem.
Today, especially on Jerusalem and Hebron Days and especially on this Jubilee Year of Liberation, we are called to contemplate on these matters and also see how they may touch on our spiritual endeavors and actions as well. One possible conclusion is working on the synthesis between the special Divine inspiration of Jerusalem and the holy human initiative and courage of Hebron towards our future Redemption…
Real Stories from the Holy Land: ‘I was once looking for lesson 89 in a specific sefer. I opened this sefer randomly and it opened, out of hundreds of lessons, exactly at lesson 89.’