Apr 26, 2009

Don't get arrested, give tzedaka

There was an interesting article in the Mishpacha newspaper this week. It was about the grave site of Rav Ashi (a tanna from the Talmud Bavli) and his son Mar bar Rav Ashi. The grave is located in southern Lebanon, just beyond the Israeli-Lebanon border.

I had heard in the past about Breslavers who used to sneak into Lebanon to go to daven at the grave. I had not heard about it in a long time, so I thought they no longer could because of tighter security at the border, perhaps because of the recent war. I was not really familiar with how it worked though - how they snuck in and exactly where it was.

Last week I saw somewhere on the internet - perhaps Bechadrey, perhaps Ladaat, perhaps Ynet (I don't remember) that some yeshiva boys (did not say Breslav, but I think it is safe to assume they were) were stopped/arrested when trying to sneak into the grave of Rav Ashi in South Lebanon. interesting.

This week, the Mishpacha ran the story of how they do this, and what happened with these yeshiva boys. I found it fascinating. They are not really sneaking into Lebanon (at least these boys did not - what they did in previous incidents I do not know). Basically there is a series of fences, and they were able to get through or around all of them until the last one. the last fence is just a couple of inches away from the grave, so standing at that fence is really being right at the grave.

It seems these boys at least knew not to touch the fence or reach in and touch the grave. They were quoted as saying they knew not to as that would start an international incident. I am not sure how they knew that, but did not know they should not be sneaking through the 2 or 3 fences they passed until that point, when they later claimed they did nothing wrong and did not touch the fence and did not know they were not supposed to be there, etc. The 3 fences up to that point should have given it away that they should not be there....and I am assuming there were signs on the fence to not pass (but that could be a mistaken assumption).

Anyways, the whole story and description was interesting. One point though struck me. After the boys were caught, the article quotes the boys, one of them had an opportunity to use his cellphone. he quickly called one of the tzedaka organizations (does not say which - no free advertising I guess) and gave his credit card info and a 36NIS donation. Shortly after that, the commander told them that they have a few moments before the police would arrive and he is going to let them leave. As long as they are gone by the time the police get there, they will be free. Needless to say they left immediately (there was a bit of an argument between 2 commanders - one did not want to let them go, but the other ended up convincing him).

I find it interesting that this was the boys first instinct. To call and donate tzedaka. Not to call his rebbe for a bracha or his lawyer for advice or parents, etc.. He knew the number of the tzedaka org and called them first.

It seems like in the next yeshua booklet put out by the tzedaka organizations describing some of the great salvations people had by donating money in a time of need, this story will be featured...


  1. I remember hearing a while ago that the grave of Rav Ashi is literally on the Lebanese border and Israelis have access to one side and Lebanese have access to the other side of the Kever.

    Apparently what we claim is the kever of Rav Ashi is claimed by them as a Kever Sheik

  2. I dont know if the fence was moved over the years or not, but the article had a couple pictures, and the site is right past the fence...

    alll our kvarim are claimed by them as kivrei sheikim...

  3. how do they identify these kevarim?Are there really ancient traditions regarding them or are these new traditions?

  4. Shortly after our entry into Levanon in '82, some of the hevra started researching the topic of ancient Jewish sites in the area. Many of these places were pretty widely know by tradition, including Arab names and identifications; just as places in Israel are. In the memorial book for Dani Haas hy'd, for instance, Yoel Elitzur and Zeev Ehrlich published short articles about some of these efforts.

    Rafi, if you email me I can try and scan it for you.

  5. As for Michael Sedley's comment about Rav Ashei, Zeev Ehrlich writes (my translation):

    Graves of the Amoraim Abaye's sons, Rav Papa and sons, Rav Ashei

    According to the popular tradition which appears in only two sources from the middle of the 16th century CE, the above mentioned amoraim are buried in the area of the Banyas in a place called Al Ubad. Since there is no known place with this name or similar near the Banyas, some try to identify the place as west of the Hula and south of Moshav Margaliot on the peak of Mt. Shenan on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

  6. interesting. thanks Mordechai


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