Apr 12, 2009

Touring in Eretz Yisrael: Chol Hamoed Pesach: Hebron, Massua, and The Pyramids!

Today's Chol Hamoed trip started off with sunrise services at the Me'arat HaMachpela in Hebron. Sunrise was about 6:15am today, so we had to get going at about 4:50am to get there on time.

I felt like taking a picture from a different angle this time rather than the classic angle...

There was a nice crowd today, bright and early, of visitors coming to daven. I davened in the regular sefardic vasikin minyan rather than one of the ashkenazy minyanim. I always prefer to daven with them because they are not visitors but daven there every single day of the year. I believe they must have a special merit both for being able to do so and just for doing so, so I always prefer to daven with them.

The large and cavernous Yitzchak's Hall is open to Jews on chol hamoed, so that is where we davened.

In Yitzchak's Hall is, according to tradition, the opening to the Garden of Eden. This is the parochet over the opening.

After we got back and rested a bit with a bit of a lazy morning, my 12 year old son put together the plan for the rest of the day. We planned to go to Mitzpe Massua, or Massua Lookout. Massua is a "Fire Observation Post" at the top of a mountain near Bet Shemesh. The view from the top is phenomenal...

After looking around a bit, we started a campfire and had our picnic lunch/dinner.

When we finally got moving after that, we decided to do one of the local hikes. From the top of Massua, one can either drive down and go home, or hike to the hurvat Midras or hurvat Luzit. These are both series of caves and ruins from the times of the Roman conquest and Bar Kochba. The hikes are between 3.5km to 5km, depending on which trail you choose to follow. We chose the trail to hurvat Midras which was meant t be a 3.5km hike.

The hike was fairly easy and the kids had a good time. My wife was meeting us at the end with the car and the little kids. We were following the trail marked with red markers. About 1.5 km from the end, we saw no more red markers. Suddenly the trail turned blue and then green. The whole area is beautiful with a lot to see, so it was not a big deal. We were just worried we were going to end up somewhere else and my wife would not know where to meet us.

After walking for a while, we thought we must have made a real serious wrong turn! I guess it would have been fairly timely, considering oesach is when we left Egypt...
No, we did not follow the sign to the pyramid, though I was curious what it was. We kept following the trail straight. Shortly after, we ran into the Columbarian Cave, which seems to be where they raised doves in the times of the Greeks.

After getting back on our way, we eventually found out we were not lost after all and we ran right into the Midras ruins!
We met up with my wife and the rest of the kids and they enjoyed running around the caves and exploring a bit before we went home.. Exhausted.

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