Korach 5777 – Grateful dead - 2
Last week, I raised the concept of 'holy sites' - places around the world, particularly in Israel, which are considered sacred and precious. The most obvious one being the Kotel - the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
But there are numerous other such locations scattered throughout the Holy Land. I pointed out Hebron - on the itinerary of one of the 12 spies sent to reconnoiter the Land of Israel.
"And he came to Hebron" [Numbers. 13:22] The Talmud [Sotah: 34b] elaborates that 'he' is Caleb - one of the twelve spies. What was his purpose in visiting Hebron? The Talmud continues that he went to pray at the graves of the Patriarchs buried there. Already at the outset, he sensed that the assignment was compromised. That the spying mission was doomed. He needed every ounce of help, and he detoured to Hebron enlisting the help of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Why didn't he just pray directly to the Almighty? In truth, he did. But, he understood that the Patriarchs remain connected to their descendants. That at times of need, they are there to help us in our prayers. To elevate our words of sincerity, and to beseech G-d on our behalf. Far from being deceased, they are more alive than ever: "The righteous, even in death are called living." [Talmud. Brachot: 18a]
On most of my trips to Israel, I - like Jews before me have done for thousands of years - make time to travel to Hebron to experience this phenomenal connection. To pray at the gateway to Paradise. To touch the very dawn of time. A holy site indeed.
In Israel, and around the world, the resting place of great Jewish Sages and Rabbis continues to attract pilgrims who come to be inspired by the living example embodied by those resting there. To connect with those who are more alive than we can imagine. And to use the visit as a spur to foster and further Jewish growth and awareness.
RABBI MENDEL LEW