Thursday, February 4, 2016


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Mishpatim
Shabbos Mevorchim Chodesh Adar I
26 Shevat 5776/ February 5, 2016

There were many special highlights and memorable moments during my recent trip to Eretz Yisroel with my son Shalom, in honor of his bar mitzvah. We had the zechus of receiving berachos from many gedolim, we davened at the kevarim of tzaddikim who lived throughout the generations, we visited family who live there, and we saw a sampling of some of the wonders and majestic beauty of the Land.
I would like to share what I felt was one of the most moving moments of our trip:
The day before we returned home, my brother Yaakov's father-in-law, R' Moshe Primishleanu, drove us on an incredible one day tiyul up north. We left from Yerushalayim and headed north via the Jordan Valley all the way to Teveriah (kevarim of Rabbi Meir Ba'al Hanes, Rabbi Akiva, Ramchal, Rambam, and Shelah). We saw the place where the Kineret begins to flow into the Jordan River, and some time later we saw where the opposite side where the northern section of the Jordan flows into the top of the Kineret. We headed all the way to the northern border, to the summit of a mountain called BenTal, where there was snow on the ground. At its peak there was a patrol of four UN soldiers (Danish, Austrian, Indian, and Pakistan). From there we could see the nearby snow-capped Har Chermon, and had a clear view well into Syria. We then drove back down through the norther city of Kiryat Shmoneh, and down through the Galil, from which the Lebanese border was visible.
We davened in Amuka at the kever of Rabbi Yonasan Ben Uziel, and then headed up towards Tzefas.
I had read that Abayei and Rava were buried in the vicinity of Tzefas, but that it was a bit off the road and somewhat challenging to find.
In yeshiva Shalom was learning the beginning of the fifth perek of Bava Kamma, which discusses the halacha in an unusual case where a pregnant cow gored an ox. There is a classic machlokes (dispute) between Abayei and Rava regarding the details of the scenario which the Mishna discusses.
As we had just reviewed that Gemara that morning I asked R' Moshe if we could visit the graves of Abayei and Rava.
Despite the challenge in getting there, R' Moshe was more than willing to oblige. With just minutes to sunset, we drove to the end of the road and onto a bumpy unsettled path heading up a steep hill. Somehow the car made it up. At the end of the path we had to walk to the top of the mountain, from where there was a breathtaking view of the entire area. At the top was a now dark and cold cave into which we descended. At the end was the simple graves of the two holy Amoraim simply marked with their names.
Shalom and I stood in front of the two timeless Talmudic personalities whose name grace numerous pages of the Talmud, and orally reviewed the gemara's discussion, particularly the dispute. For me it was an extremely emotional moment. A Torah dispute between two sages that transpired and was recorded close to two thousand years ago being vividly and excitedly recounted by a father and his son who is celebrating his bar mitzvah. There we recounted the timeless words about a pregnant cow goring an ox.
We then continued on to Tzefas and then Meron, before heading back to yerushalayim via Acco, Chaifa, and Tel Aviv.
However, the experience of reviewing Torah taught centuries ago  in front of the graves of such familiar personalities, as their lips moved along with us before us, was humbling and awe-inspiring. The words of the Gemara took on new meaning.
It was a timeless experience in a timeless land. It's part of the privilege we have being members of a timeless people!

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
R’ Dani and Chani Staum          

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