Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



In Proximity to the Patriarchs

Aharon Granevich-Granot

Over three decades ago, a group of men descended into the underground caverns of Mearas HaMachpeilah, approaching what they assumed to be the actual burial plots of the patriarchs. They discovered the opening to the original caves in the Yitzchak Hall, built around the markers for the graves of Yitzchak and Rivka, whose burials we read about this week. The underground entryway has since been cemented shut by the Arabs, but that didn’t stop six of the original team from coming to reenact their adventure.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

As we read in this week’s parshah, Yaakov and Eisav buried Yitzchak Avinu more than 3,500 years ago. Until thirty years ago, one could theoretically descend into the pathway leading to his grave. That all changed after a daring adventure by ten men, members of Midreshet Chevron, who actually made the trip and came close to the graves of our patriarchs and matriarchs. On a recent Motzaei Shabbos, six of those men – Noam Arnon, Aharon Domb, Rami Zayit, Yoni Cohen, Moshe Yaakov, and Itamar Schneeweiss – came together in “Ulam Yitzchak (Yitzchak’s Hall),” which is normally off-limits to Jews, to relive those moments, and to reveal the Arab response to their adventure that makes such an endeavor impossible today.

The meeting was the culmination of a complex campaign that at times seemed doomed to failure. The difficulty wasn’t in locating the people who descended into the subterranean part of Mearas HaMachpeilah, but in securing entry into Yitzchak’s Hall, where the entry shaft they descended from is situated. Since the Purim killings in the Cave in 1994, Mearas HaMachpeilah has been divided into two for most of the year. Yitzchak’s Hall, a mosque in which Yitzchak’s tziyun (cenotaph) is found, is reserved for Muslim use, and the courtyard and the room that houses Yaakov Avinu’s tziyun is reserved for the Jews.

There are ten days during the year, known as the “Jewish exception,” during which the entire Cave is open only to Jews, and another ten days known as the “Muslim exception,” during which the Cave is opened only for Muslims.

A violation of those terms by either side is liable to set of a skirmish. Eventually, two members of the Kiryat Arba City Council were able to soften the stance of Col. Guy Chazot, commander of the Judean sector, who made our visit to the Hall possible.

 

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you