Oct 16, 2008

Touring Eretz Yisrael: Vasikin in Hebron

This morning we went to daven "k'vasikin" at the Me'aras Ha'Machpela in hebron. I always love going there.

Today, because of the holiday, Ulam Yitzchak was open to Jews. Many people get excited when Ulam Yitzchak is open, as it is only open to jews 11 days per year. I don't see the big deal, as the graves are beneath the ground in the caves, and as far as I know the markers and rooms in the building have no specific relevance or meaning. But it is a bigger room, and it also means for these days we have control of the whole building.

One interesting aspect of the Me'ara is the debate whether kohanim can enter it or not. Normally kohanim cannot enter buildings in which dead bodies are buried. The me'ara has always had a dbate about it. Some poskim allow kohanim to enter the me'ara saying that the graves of our forefathers does not make one tamei. Therefore there are some kohanim that will enter the me'ara. I think most do not, but some do, and they almost always have nirkat kohanim in the me'ara.

Here is todays kohein blessing us.

After we finished davening and left, on the way back to the car we saw the booths being prepared. Today is the big day in hebron - they have a concert and a fair of sorts.

The proprietor of the booth below was selling silver jewellry. I noticed the name on the both was "Sa-Nur Jewellry". Sa-Nur was one of the four Northern Shomron settlements that had been uprooted by Ariel Sharon as part of the disengagement. I asked the proprietor if that is where he is from, and it is. He had been one of the founders of Sa-Nur, and was evacuated when his home was dismantled.


  1. Chag Sameach.

    I think that a more halakhic reason for allowing kohanim into the MhM is that the bodies are buried in a cave underground, with a chalal separating them from the ground above.

  2. I was also in Hebron today. I davenned Mincha in the Me'ara. The first blessing of the shmoneh esra has an entirely different effect when it is said there.

  3. Jerry is right, there is a sefer (you can find it around chevron) called "kedushat sde hamachpela" in it, are very detailed halachik viewpoints and piskey dinim regarding the meara and tumas ohel etc..

    MOST cohanim enter the meara.. at least, I am not aware of any that do NOT enter the meara.

    Rafi, ulam yitzchak is the biggest and most beutifull hall, it is also directly above where the avot and imahot are buried.

    The sealed pit by the wall is directly above the makom kevura.

    When your in chevron next, talk to noam arnon about the makom kevura of the avot.. he was down there 20 years ago and its like yesterday to him.

    This is something that blows your mind off too, these guys went down there over 20 years ago and it impacted their lives forever "arba nichnas l'pardes"

    Arnon says he comes to the meara to daven at least once a day since he's be down the pit 20 years ago.

    I have asked many people about going down and 75% say they are way too scared to do it.

    Its not like "hey lets go down some cave" its scary because according to both zohar and gemarah etc.. that is mamash the entrance to gan eden as my friend puts it "what if i slip and slide into gan eden ? will i die or come out crazy or become a kofer ?"

    Cosmic X,
    You telling me huh.. after a year and a half of living here and davening in the meara a few times a week, it always gets you..

    Elokey avraham etc.. and "hey their right under me!"

    This is what I cant stand about the whole bashing visiting mekomos kedoshim.. its called "zchut avot"

    You should cone for rosh hashana and yom kipur.. its crazy like the whole tefillah we invoke zchut avot, the akeida etc...

  4. Nice Post. Thanks for sharing this information with us.

  5. elchonon,

    Most kohanim do NOT enter the Ma'arah. As a kohen, I never have and never will, and out of my kohanic neighbors, very few would.

  6. Elchonin,

    I'm pretty sure that most Ashkenazi Cohanim do not enter the Ma'ara, with the exception of Chassidim, who follow the Sfardi Minhag and do go in.

    It is a number of years since I was last in Chevron, but mnay years ago I used to go there quite regularly as a guest of one of my ramim who lived next to Beit Hadassah.
    He always made arrangements for me and any other Cohanim to daven outside the Ma'ara. I remember once he made a minyan for us on the famous 7th step. Another time I was there for Shvi'i pessach and it turned out that there exactly 20 Jewish men in Chevron for Chag. He arranged for 2 minyanim on Motzei Chag, each with exactly 10 men so that there would still be a minyan in the Ma'ara, but there would be a second minyan in Beit Hadassa for me (the only Cohen)

  7. The first Sukkos after the Hitnatkut, I too saw a jewelery stand in Chevron with Tzfon HaShomron owners. Wonder if it was the same one. Course I bought something..and it's still on my hand till today. (ok, that totally vital for the world to know :))

    PS-That first brocha? Ya...


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