This has been quite a busy week in terms of getting around! A family was in from out of town whom I knew very well and had asked me to accompany them on some of their tiyulim in the greater Yerushalayim area (I am not--yet--a guide but with the exception of the 3rd day we had "professional" guides along the way). My purpose was to add a "flavor" to the trip both in terms of history and in terms of Tanach and Jewish Thought .
While I have been to Hevron numerous times, it is ALWAYS a treat to visit such an inspirational place as this. I say inspirational both in terms of the ancient history of our People and in terms of the local Jewish population. The few hundred Jews living there are TRULY seeing to it that Hevron maintains a Jewish presence...Kol HaKavod to them!
The next day, I found myself again in Ir David. I can not say this enough times...no matter if you have or have not been there before...it is an obligatory visit to see things that you only have learned about or heard about. Our guide was outstanding and made all of what we saw come alive. Imagine seeing David HaMelech's palace...the actual spring from where the Bnei Yisrael took water for the ceremony in the Bet HaMikdash for Simchat Bet Hashoeva and on and on and on...every step...every view is another peek back in time!
Our final day took us to the Southern Wall excavations and the Davidson Center. Again, a stop NOT to be missed on a trip...I read to the family from the Tanach from the sections dealing with the ascension of the bet HaMkidash and the subsequent downfall...we walked the ancient streets that still are there with the huge boulders thrown on those streets dating to the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash. We looked at Eicha and saw hope in some of the Kinnot we read on 9 Av every year. What a special moment to stand at the Southern Wall looking at the (sealed) gates through which ancient Pilgrims (and I am not talking with the Indians!) walked to be Oleh L'Regel. While it was cold and rainy (Baruch Hashem!) the mood was one of both joy and anticipation that we WILL indeed see this place SPEEDILY teeming with Pilgrims again!
And we walked...and we walked...and we walked the land...this magnificent Land! And then, I opened the paper this morning to learn some very nice facts and figures about this Land of our's.
As of now, there are 7.5 million residents in Israel (kein yirbu!) of which 5.983 million are Jews(74.5%). This number was bolstered in 2009 from two fronts....an amazing 160,000 (!!) babies were born (Kein Yirbu!!) and 14, 500 new Olim came to this country (that includes US!). BLi ayin Hara a thousand times over, this past year of 2009 was the least amount of deaths (due to murder) via suicide bombings in the past 10 years with a grand total of: ZERO. (Compare that to 36 in 2008). Instead of nearly 2,100 rockets falling on Sderot in 2008, there were "only" 160 in 2009. (Yes, even ONE is too many! But Baruch Hashem, that with Hashem's help, the IDF has accomplished that which they SHOULD have done 8 years earlier).
So, during this week, I certainly felt a part of this Land both in terms of WALKING it and in terms of "belonging" to it in terms of population growth and (B'ezrat Hashem) further expansion.
However, this expansion will only be fully possible if the government removes the RIDICULOUS and onerous building freeze in Yehuda and Shomron.
(By the way, if you STILL call it the "West Bank"--a term I NEVER use--you may want to consider calling this parcel of land what the JEWS call it and not what the Arab propoganda machine labels it. By calling it the W.B., you are referring to the West Bank of the Jordan River, indicating that this area is "connected" to the other side of the Jordan and NOT to the Land of Israel. And for those of you who think it is a matter of semantics...there is NO such thing in that regards...in this part of the world, words and titles make all the difference in perspective!)