Sunday, November 27, 2005

Chaye Sarah in Hebron//Publication of 'Dvar Hebron' by Rabbi Dov Lior

1. Chaye Sarah in Hebron

Yesterday Hebron celebrated the purchase of Ma'arat HaMachpela, bought almost 4,000 years ago by the Patriarch Abraham, to bury his wife, Sarah. Annually, as this Torah portion is read, thousands of people arrive in Hebron for Shabbat to hear these verses recited at the very site Abraham purchased.

This Shabbat, over 25,000 people from Israel and around the world, arrived in Hebron to participate in this special event. Hundreds traveled from the United States especially for this Shabbat, via Hebron's New York office, the Hebron Fund, and through AFSI. In addition, thousands of Israeli couples and youth were hosted by Hebron and Kiryat Arba families.

Youth slept in public buildings, prepared especially for Shabbat. Due to the warm weather, many also pitched tents in Hebron and Kiryat Arba. Shabbat meals were provided for those who made prior reservations.

Families in Hebron and Kiryat Arba hosted dozens of people in their homes, with guests sleeping on any available floor space.

Friday night, the multitudes gathered at Ma'arat HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, for evening worship. The entire building was open to Jewish worshipers, including Ohel Yitzhak, the Isaac Hall, open to Jews only 11 days during the year. Huge prayer services were held both inside and outside, in the Ma'ara courtyard. Thousands joyously sang and danced the traditional Kabbalat Shabbat service.

Following the evening meal, many of the guests attended classes and lectures in Hebron and Kiryat Arba. People could be seen roaming the streets of Hebron through the early hours of the morning.

At five thirty in the morning, thousands gathered for early morning prayers at Ma'arat HaMachpela. A 'central service' began at eight o'clock in Ohel Yitzhak, with thousands crowding in and participating. Hearing the ancient words chanted, written by a scribe on parchment, describing the lengthy negotiations leading to Abraham's purchase of the caves and field, almost four millennium ago, at that very site, left everyone in awe.

Following the services and afternoon meal, throngs toured Hebron's Jewish neighborhoods, with tours given in Hebrew, English, French and Russian. A festive 'third meal' was attended by hundreds of guests from the United States in the Gutnick Center.

Hebron leaders, extremely happy with the huge turnout, said that this was the largest "Chaye Sarah" Shabbat gathering ever. They expressed hope that Israeli politicians and world leaders would take note of the tremendous international support for Hebron's Jewish community. They also commented that such a strong show of support should assist in efforts to prevent the possible expulsion of Jewish families from the 'Mitzpe Shalhevet neighborhood, which was ordered to be implemented before the end of 2005.

2. A Second Celebration – Publication of 'Dvar Hebron' by Rabbi Dov Lior

Friday afternoon Rabbi Yitzhak Rodrig, dean of the Institute for Settlement Rabbis, arrived at the home of Hebron-Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi, Rav Dov Lior, with a special book in his possession. He presented Rav Lior with the first copy of "Dvar Hebron' – 'The Words of Hebron,' the first publication of Rav Lior's extensive writings. The 270 page book is a collection of Questions and Answers dealing with various aspects of Jewish law (Even HaEzer and Hoshen Mishpat).

In the book's introduction, Rav Lior writes: "I want to give thanks to the L-rd, who gave me the privilege of come to Eretz Yisrael and to save me from the days of holocaust, from 1940-1945 in Europe, years of bloodshed. I arrived at the doors of Torah in Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav in Jerusalem, where I studied under my teacher, Rav Tzvi Yehuda HaCohen Kook, zt"l, who not only taught me the legal aspects of Judaism for Rabbis and Judges, but also formed my spiritual essence, concerning my outlook on the acts of G-d, who saw the future at the beginning, who returned the exiled to Israel and who raised the ruins of our land. His viewing of faith saw in every act which accompanied the path of the redemption of Israel, the light of redemption, even when the path was filled with difficult complexities."

Rav Dov Lior, is known to be one of the 'Gedolie HaDor' – a Torah Giant. His has an extensive knowledge of all fields of Torah, and many have waited breathlessly for the publication of the first volume of his writings. The book is available via the Institute of Settlement Rabbis (in Hebrew) and can be ordered at: mahevron@zahav.net.il

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