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The Systems of the Jewish Year


By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Last Shabbos, Porat Yosef, our four year old cousin, tragically drowned.

His parents, a beautiful young couple, sat Shiva in the city of Hebron, just a few meters away from one of the holiest sites on Earth - the Mearat HaMachpela.


I never drove to Hebron before and I have to admit that I was a bit hesitant.  With my broken AC in the car I somehow did not feel like the road to Hebron was the right neighborhood to drive around in with the windows rolled down enjoying the summer breeze. The normal way of getting to Hebron is by bullet proof bus but that was an option that I just didn’t have time for.

I parked my car on a street that Avrohom Avinu most certainly once parked his donkey. As I looked around I realized that the local press goes out of its way to portray the Jewish inhabitants of this city as political nudniks. A better description might be ‘heroic selfless tzadikim that are willing to do whatever it takes to live according to their beliefs’. Many talk the talk - here lived people that walk the walk.

When I walked into the Shiva house something happened. I entered a house full of men and women comforting an obviously very distraught mother and father. As a rabbi I have visited hundreds of Shiva houses, but this was different. The dress, the mood, the discussion, and the look on everyones face transported me to a different time. AsI walked through the wide open door I walked back 2000 years. Somehow the mood and the spirit of all the laws of mourning, which I know all too well, were active in this room. I was humbled to sit amongst what felt like the students of Rebbe Akiva or Rebbe Chananya Ben Tradion. This is what it looked like. An entire community suffered a tragedy. Family and friends were sitting together struggling and stregnthening their faith and their resolve to do whatever it takes to serve Hashem.

I’m probably not explaining it well - I guess you had to be there; but I was priveleged to see and experience that there are still Jewish heroes. Fearless heroes for Eretz Yisroel, heroes for Torah and Mitzvos and champions of Jewish communitty! May G-d bless them - and us. I want to be a hero too!

We stopped for a few moments to pray at the Mearat HaMachpelah and I thought about how this was once the most coveted piece of land on Earth.

As we drove the wandering road out of Hebron we received a call. “ Mazal Tov! (Our daughter) Henna Gittel had a baby boy!”

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