Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Midbar Yehudah©


Vehicle half open at the sides


Midbar Yehudah


Written by: Vardah Littmann             Photos by: Rimonah 
                                                          Www.israelcamerafocus.blogspot.com



 Judean desert
Several highways traverse the Judean desert, rolling up                          
and down the gentle hills and permitting their travelers a
glimpse of the vistas beyond, between the various settlements
scattered about the region the nations of the world call
“occupied”. The first thing that strikes someone new to visit is
how little of the space actually is occupied – vast expanses still
lie untouched, trodden only occasionally by passing flocks of sheep driven by a boy-shepherd, perhaps seeded with clusters of olive trees that cling tenuously to the sides of steep ravines and stepped stone slopes. It was to these empty expanses that Dovid Hamelech fled from his enemies, but today, one needs an extra measure of protection to tread these slopes.
Nonetheless, we were not deterred, having long awaited the opportunity to step beyond our known boundaries and walk on the Land of our Forefathers
We were a group of around forty Bais Yaakov teachers, 
setting out in a vehicle half open at the sides, so as to
afford us the closest proximity to our surroundings.
 After heading out of the Holy City we planned to plunge
into the hills, emerging into open land – the Land we yearned to touch,
 the Land that is hidden under the
View from Kvis 4
asphalt of the cities in which we are usually confined.
Even before we exited the official boundaries of Yerushalayim, there were plenty of hints to the sides of
the road that we were on our way into a different experience
of reality. The Holy City encompasses an enchanting
blend of ancient and modern, combining to present the
viewer with an experience without parallel.
We were a group of around forty Bais Yaakov teachers, setting out in a vehicle half open at the sides, so as to afford us the closest proximity to our surroundings. 
After heading out of the Holy City we planned to plunge
into the hills, emerging into open land – the Land we yearned to touch,
 the Land that is hidden under the
asphalt of the cities in which we are usually confined.
Even before we exited the official boundaries of                                                 Yerushalayim, there were plenty of hints to the sides of
the road that we were on our way into a different experience
of reality. The Holy City encompasses an enchanting
blend of ancient and modern, combining to present the
viewer with an experience without parallel.
Now we sped past Ramat Shlomo, a suburb where                                 
some 3,000 families live. This area, well within
the municipal boundaries of the capital city but
declared by the world to be an “illegal settlement,”
is the one that recently found itself the target of
international fury regarding proposed expansion.
The new homes planned for the neighborhood
would have provided only a partial answer to the
growing housing crisis in the region,
but it seems that only Arabs can
get away with catering to their
 Security Fence.
needs…
We passed a section of the
notorious Security Fence, which
in its soft sandstone color
attempts, a little vainly, to blend
into its surroundings.
In July 2004, the International
Court of Justice in the Hague
officially ruled that Israel was
not allowed to build such a
barrier, despite its being strictly
defensive in nature. Some of the
nations opposed to the fence have
themselves constructed fences –
for economic reasons, to keep out
migrant workers, not for reasons
of pikuach nefesh.

We traveled along the highway leading to the Dead Sea. 
Maaleh Adumim
When the cluster of red roofs of Maaleh
Adumim appeared to our right we turned in their direction.                
The name of this neighborhood is 
derived from Sefer Yehoshua (15:6-18), in which Maaleh Adumim is described as the area on the border 
between the tribes of Yehudah and Binyamin. The route leading from here to Yerushalayim is surrounded by rock formations of a reddish hue, hence thename. Maaleh Adumim was founded by twenty-three pioneer families on the seventh night of Chanukah, thirty-five years ago. The population today stands at over 34,500. A recently constructed highway
enables its residents, along with those of the 
other Jewish towns along the Yerushalayim-Jericho
road, to reach the city center within just seven minutes.
Upon reaching Yishuv Kedar
Bedouins
we left the paved road and our
open bus lurched and swayed as
we traveled down the hillside                                                             
to see how the Bedouins live.
Over the coming days, my “Shelo
asani goy” was said with greater
kavannah as I thought back to
these people and their incredibly
primitive lifestyle.
Standing here in the midst of Bedouins
the open wilderness mainly
populated by our enemies, I was                                                
reminded of Am Yisrael’s status
as a sheep among wolves. Maybe
Lone black sheep
I was subconsciously inspired by
the lone black sheep in the flock
of white? Though we are the only         
nation truly aspiring to whiteness
and purity, the rest of the world
insists on painting itself in the
lightest of hues and portraying us
as the dark, evil ones.
We moved further and
further into the desert
terrain, climbing higher                                                                                                                             
 Breathtaking view
and higher. The view in all                                                                         
directions was breathtaking – we could see clearly as far 
as the Dead Sea, which appeared as a blue-tinted basin cradled 
among the towering rocks on all sides.
Our bus was now struggling against the steep incline, and so we alighted and took a ten-minute stroll up to “Azazel”. 

This peak gained its name from the belief held by some that it was from here that the goat for Azazel was 
flung to its fate on Yom Kippur, during the days when the Beis Hamikdash still stood. Scattered rays of sunlight broke their way through the clouds to cast the entire landscape in an almost
Junction between two worlds
other-worldly light. Shadow and brightness contrasted to create the impression that we were literally standing at the junction between two worlds,as sunset approached and darkness fought to overtake light.


I have no zechus to merit that for which millions of Jews have longed and davened for, for thousands of years. It is only due to pure chessed on Hashem’s part that I live in and am able to explore the Land of the Avos, the Land Hashem chose as His, above all others. For this great privilege and all His other innumerable, unending kindnesses to me and mine, I thank Hakadosh Baruch Hu, and may I become more worthy of receiving His blessings.

Published in the' Sha’ah Tovah' magazine 28 July, 2010.
Eretz Yisrael in the lens

This Iris was hiding in the shade of a rock in Midbar Yehudah. 
My sister Rimonah was kind enough to captured it for me.


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