The Modern Miracle called Hebron
Most people view miracles as ‘one-time’ events, such as the parting of the sea during the Exodus from Egypt, or the sun standing still at Givon. But I have news for anyone who so thinks: there are miracles that are continuous acts of G-d.
A number of examples come to mind, but at the present, the phenomenon at the forefront of my thoughts is none other than: Hebron.
A few months ago we marked the eightieth anniversary of the 1929-Tarpat riots and massacre which decimated Hebron’s age-old Jewish community. A small group which returned in 1931 was expelled by the British in 1936. Who could have imagined that Jews would ever return to this holy city, especially following the Jordanian occupation during the War of Independence?
Even in the midst of the Six Day War the Israeli government attempted to prevent Jordanian participation in the battles, but Hussein, carried away by is own propaganda, began shelling Jerusalem. The result was Israel’s liberation of the Wall, Temple Mount and all of the holy city, as well as Judea and Samaria, the heartland of the Jewish people.
Who would have believed that an ancient city such as Hebron could be repopulated by Jews, a city left vacant of Jews following the horrid 1929 massacre? But it happened.
At no time in the history of the world has a people been able to literally ‘return home’ following a 2,000 year old exile. No people has ever been able to gather in the exiled, from the four corners of the earth. No people has ever been able to reestablish an ancient language, the tongue of the sacred, the letters and words of the Torah. This is not only renewal. It is rebirth. It is a stage in the revival of the dead.
But the miracle does not stop there. After all, an infant does have life, an infant can breath and eat, but little more than that. An infant must also survive, living long enough to grow, learn, and develop, physically and mentally. That can be more difficult than the birth itself.
But so it has been. No lack of difficulties, acting as stumbling blocks, have stood in the way of advancement. A plague, a disease called anti-Semitism, an inbred hate of Judaism and Israel, struck immediately, attempting to stamp out the newborn life at its very inception. Yet that affliction was unable to wipe out the inner yearnings that had lived within the souls of the almost lifeless body called Israel. Israel’s essence refused to yield, breaking through the eggshell of infancy to being a full-fledged global presence.
Despite attempts, again and again, of that potentially fatal affliction, Israel overcame. And it was only natural that the sign of triumph not only be progressing forward, but also, no less important, reaching back to the beginnings of our existence, to the roots of our collective soul, from which we evoked the strength to keep alive for thousands of years, from which we were able arouse the inner fortitude to negate the deadly viruses attempting to destroy us.
It was only natural that the Jewish people would return to Hebron, to Ma’arat HaMachpela, to the original city of David, to the cradle of civilization, to the foundation of our existence.
Over the years attempts continue to cut off, or renounce those roots. To no avail.This past Saturday over 20,000 people compressed themselves into one huge body of Am Yisrael, in the holy city of Hebron, to take part in ‘Shabbat Hebron,’ when we read in the Torah how Abraham paid Efron the Hittite 400 silver shekels ($750,000 today) for a field and a cave at the edge of that field.