Tuesday, October 27th, 2009
(Everything below is excerpted from an e-mail sent by Hebron’s David Wilder)
In 1165 Moshe ben Maimon, known as Maimonides or the Rambam, visited Eretz Yisrael. In the preface to his commentary on the Talmudic tractate of Rosh Hashana he writes of his visit to Hebron.
“And on the first day of the week, the ninth day of the month of MarCheshvan, I left Jerusalem for Hebron to kiss the graves of my forefathers in the Cave of Machpela. And on that very day I stood in the Cave and I prayed, praised be G-d for everything. And these two days, the sixth (when he prayed on Temple Mount in Jerusalem) and the ninth of Mar-Cheshvan I vowed to make as a special holiday and in which I will rejoice with prayer, food and drink. May the Lord help me to keep my vows… At the edge of the field is the house of Avraham, And it is forbidden to build a home there, in respect to Avraham.”
A friend of mine told me the following story:
Several years ago a famous rabbi visited Hebron with many of his disciples. Upon arriving, he told his Hebron host, “I almost didn’t come.”
The rabbi explained: “When the famous holy Rabbi Chaim ben Atar (known as the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh) traveled to the city of Meron (in the Galil) to the tomb of Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai) he first imposed upon himself many hardships and suffering, by fasting, by rolling in the snow, and other physical afflictions, in order to purify himself… Then, when he reached Meron, he crawled on his hands and legs to the site itself, out of fear and awe.”
The Rabbi continued: Knowing this, how could I dare allow myself to visit the caves of Machpela, the tomb of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs?!”
His host looked at him and asked, “but you are here – you came anyhow.”
The Rabbi answered, “Yes, I did come. I decided that it is permissible to visit your father and mother, even if your clothes are stained and dirty.”
A poignant story, but with a very profound message. Ma’arat HaMachpela – Hebron, is not only the home the founders of our people, the roots of Judaism and all monotheism, the beginning of modern ‘civilized’ civilization. Hebron is the home of our mothers and fathers, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa – that simple, that deep. Mommy and Daddy will always welcome their children home, notwithstanding anything!
On Nov. 21 the New York-based Hebron Fund will host its annual Dinner. The funds raised at this event allow Hebron’s Jewish community to continue to work on behalf of the Jewish people, keeping Hebron and Ma’arat HaMachpela accessible to anyone and everyone.