Wow, that was an experience................
It's almost 1 in the morning and I just returned from a pretty awe-inspiring time. We just went across the road from Ariel to an Arab village called Kifal Chares where the graves of Yehoshua ben Nun, his father Nun, and Calev ben Yefuna are. Yehoshua ben Nun was Moshe's successor and led the Jewish people into the Land of Israel. His father was Nun. And Calev ben Yefuna was one of the 12 spies sent to scout out the Land of Israel and report back. He and Yehoshua were the only 2 who came back with a positive report.
Since these graves are in an Arab village in the West Bank, Jews are not allowed to visit them. But once a year, on Yehoshua ben Nun's yarzeit, they open it up to the Jews. This year it was open from 10pm-4:30am and people come from all over Israel to be here. It was pretty neat that it was happening right in our neighborhood (more or less).
We got there at around 10:15 or so and waited around for awhile because they weren't allowing anyone in yet. They finally let us enter and we walked and walked and walked. It was a strange feeling, walking through the streets of this town where no residents were in sight. It felt almost like a ghost town. Apparently, the residents are put under a curfew- and that is one of the reasons they do it at night. So most of the people would be at home anyway. The army was there in full force(maybe not full force - but there were a lot of soldiers there), and it was very reassuring to see soldiers every few feet, and perched in strategic positions on rooftops.
The first Kever we came to was Calev ben Yefuna. We stayed there for a little bit and then continued quite a ways until we got to Yehoshua ben Nun's kever. This is where the action was. There was the actual grave with a big sign with the prayer "Aleinu LeShabeach" on it. Yehoshua wrote that when they were entering the Land of Israel. There was also a table set up with food and drinks for everyone. I just had some water but I saw rugelach and sweets and heard later that there was even kugel there!!
One of the nicest things I saw/heard was a class of 1st graders (our friend's son was one of them) who had just finished learning the Book of Yehoshua/Joshua and were making a Siyum to celebrate finishing it. How exciting that they were able to do this and come to his grave at the same time. I hope Jonah gets to do that too!
We stayed there for awhile and I teared up at one point. I was so inspired and so in awe. I was standing just a few feet away from where Yehoshua ben Nun is buried. The man who had the merit of leading the Jews into our beautiful and holy land of Israel is buried right across from where I now live. He paved the way, he brought Bnei Yisrael back, and now here I am. Thank you, Yehoshua. Thank you, Hashem. Thank you for helping me get to this stage in my life. It's my dream. My dream fulfilled.
A lot of people don't understand why we made Aliyah. A lot of people are really sad because of it too. They don't get how we could up and leave our family, our friends, and our comfortable lives. And move to a place where it isn't always "easy" or comfortable to live. Move to a place where we didn't really know anyone. And a place where we don't know the language that well.....
I don't know if I can put it into words. But what I wrote about above is one reason. One huge reason I am here.
Our Israeli neighbor and friend phrased it really well. And I know it is something I will think about a lot.
He said you can live next to history..... or you can live in history.
And in Israel, we are living in history.
And it's so true. In the States, we learned about all this. We learned Torah, we heard the stories, we celebrated the holidays. But it all happened "there". Far away in a land called Israel.
Now, we live in Israel. And all these stories, and all these people came from here. I can't believe that I just visited the Kever of Yehoshua..... right across the street from my city.
I hope when Jonah is in 1st grade and he finishes the book of Joshua, we will be able to come here and I will be able to show him where this great man is buried. Right next door to us....
I love it. This is why I am here. Because it's where I belong. It's my past....my present....and our future.