A Mighty Mountain
Mount Hermon, the highest mountain in
, is an integral part of the
Torah portion for Shabbos Chazan. In this parsha, Moshe Rabeinu details the
victorious battles with Sichon, the King of Emori, and Og, the King of Bashan.
As a result of these battles, Mount Hermon in the north of Israel is
We are told that Am Yisrael conquered the stretch of land from the Brook of Arnon to
Mount Hermon from of
the two kings of the Amorite. Then the Torah uncharacteristically
goes on to describe the other names by which the nations call the Hermon. Rashi explains that each nation called
the Hermon by a name in its own language since they wanted the giant mountain for itself and contended among themselves for
This shows us how desired the Hermon and the rest of the Land was. Any king of any importance used to have a palace in Eretz Yisrael. Even today, the entire world is hankering over our prime piece of property. The Hermon has the dubious honor of being the highest manned UN position and the only permanent UN-manned post in the world.
Some say the Hebrew name of the mighty mountain – Hermon – comes from the root word Herem, meaning “holy” (out of limits or sacred) and spelled: chet, reish, mem. This is a variation of ramach (spelled: reish, mem, chet), the 248 limbs of the entire body (that correspond to the 248 positive commandments). This is also the gematria of Avraham Avinu's name, and Avraham had complete control over his entire body. This shows that the Hermon is the key to the control of the whole of Eretz Yisrael in its entirety.
The giant Mountain's name in Arabic Jabal al-Shaykh or "Mountain of the Chief" also echoes the idea that the one that has control of this mountain is the Chief (controller) of the
Holy Land. The Tzidonim called it Siryon, which means
"officer" or "leader" (ruler of the country). According to our tradition, it was on the
Hermon , 1,296 meters above sea
level, on the slopes of Katef Sion, that Hashem promised Abraham the Land for
his children. peak of Har Habtarim
Tremendous Natural Resource
Mount Hermon, also called the "
Mountain," the " ," and the "Mountain
of Snow, is the location of one of the greatest geographic resources of the
area. Because of its height it receives a great deal of rainfall and snow. The
water then percolates and emerges as three springs at the foot of the mountain.
These springs create three streams, - the Dan, Hermon (Banias), and Senir
(Hazbani) - which are the head-waters of the Gray-haired Mountain Jordan
The springs, like the mountain itself, are much disputed by the nations of the area for the use of its water. In the 1960s,
Syria tried to divert the flow of the Banias and
the Hatzbani before it reached the Jordan River.
This attempt was averted before the 1967 War.
Mount Hermon in the Golan
60 miles to the east of Haifa,
we find the Golan Heights. Mount
Hermon, with its cluster of mountains and three distinct summits of
about the same height, is part of the Golan. These mountains are called The
Anti-Lebanon Range which has nothing to do with being pro- or anti-Lebanon;
rather anti is from the Greek word meaning “opposite.” The mountain
range extends for approximately 150 km
( 93 mi)
in a northeast-southwest direction, running parallel to the range in
the west. The Hermon range covers an area of about 1000 square km, of which
about 70 km² are under Israeli control and includes the highest point
in Lebanon .
From Biblical times until our era today, the Golan has borne a Jewish identity and been
included in historic Eretz Yisrael. The Midrash tells us that Hashem promised Abraham the land of ten nations, but three of them belonging to Ammon, Moav, and Esav would be acquired with the arrival of Mashiach. The Jews had not planned on taking these lands, but when attacked by Sichon and Og they captured the parts the giants had conquered from Moav and Ammom. This area included the Golan.
One of the three Arei Miklat that Moshe Rabunu set up in Ever HaYarden, was Golan in the Bashan in the portion of Menashe (Devarim 4:41, 43).
Beginning with Yehoshuah’s conquest of the land, the Golan located in the former
by Jewish settlers from the tribe of Menashe. When Jews returned from the
Babylonian exile some settled in the Golan. King Alexander Yannai, added the
Golan to his kingdom. It was the capital of the Golan for 150 years. Herod the Great also settled Jews here in
order to populate his border cities. Land
In the battle of Gamla in 67 CE, three years before the fall of
9,000 residences were killed by the Romans in a Masada-like encounter. It is therefore called by some " Jerusalem Masada
of the North." Josephus
Flavius writes about the heroic fight of the Jews during a month long siege
which ended with the fall of Gamla.
After the destruction of the
and the Roman repression of the Bar Kochba
uprising, Jews continued to live in the Golan until after the end of the
Talmudic period. Temple
The remnants of 25 synagogues have been excavated in the Golan, and they testify to the long history of a Jewish presence. The Katsrin synagogue and many other archeological findings are evidence of a flourishing Jewish community in the Byzantine period. One of the coins found in the archeological excavations there is imprinted in ancient Hebrew: "For the Redemption of Jerusalem the Holy". The Golan is dotted with ancient Jewish villages.
In the late 1800’s Jews began to move to the Golan, and Baron Rothschild purchased
acres in the eastern Golan in 1891.
Today, one third of
’s drinking water comes from
this place. Moreover, the Golan Heights is part of the water basin of the
Israel Sea of Galilee, 's largest water reservoir.
The lake is fed by waters running off the strategic plateau, which make up
roughly half of all the water that flows into it. Israeli control of the Israel Golan Heights ensures the prevention of the potential
pollution of the lake.
The Golan Heights is considered and called “the eyes of the nation, since it is
most strategic piece of Land and crucial for its long term security, as its straddles
the border between Syria and
Israel Israel’s control of the
peaks of the in the northern
Golan provides the country with important intelligence gathering capabilities
via use of electronic surveillance that goes deep into Syrian territory. This
enables Israeli soldiers posted on mountain peaks to continually monitor the
Syrian side for any military buildup which makes possible a swift IDF response
to any such development. Hermon
The presence of the Israeli army only
60 km from is a constant deterrent to any
Syrian aggression. The topographical
structure of the Golan helps to defend Damascus . In the south, the deep
canyons of the Yarmuch and the Rakad rivers, form an impassible natural barrier
and formidable shield against infantry and armored vehicles. To the east and
north, the mountain range stretching from Mt. Saki to Mt. Hermon forms a natural
guard line as there are very few of passes, which Syria could use to invade.
Therefore a comparatively small number of soldiers in a few outposts can secure
this front. Israel
If the Golan Heights were, G-d forbid, controlled by a hostile country, it could be a strategic horror for
. Israel Syria
is still in a state of war with
and any change
might have destabilizing effects. Israel
The Golan in the Conflict with
In 1946 the French Mandate gave
independence. The Golan
Heights became part of the newly independent state in contradiction to the San
Remo Resolution on Syria Palestine (an international meeting of the post-World War I Allied Supreme Council, held in in April 1920). Italy
beginning of the Six Day War, General Moshe Dayan had no intention of capturing
the Golan, but since many of the army officials were members of the Hula
kibbutzim, they pressured him to respond to the massive
artillery attacks by
. With the Help of Hashem,
the Golan was captured in
this defensive war. Immediately after the war, Syria offered to withdraw from the
Heights in exchange for a peace treaty, but was rebuffed. Since 1992, when Yitzchak Rabin became Prime Minister,
almost all Israeli governments have negotiated directly or indirectly with Israel in an
attempt to secure a peace treaty between the two states. Syria
In 1970 Hafez al-Assad seized the Baath Party, which has controlled
since 1963. In 1973 under his leadership,
Syria Syria invaded during
the Yom Kippur War and was defeated. In June, 2000 Hafez appointed his son
Bashar as his successor. Bashar supports militant terror groups that carry out
attacks against Israel . The need for long-term defensible border along
the Golan has been reinforced by the political turmoil in the Arab world, as highlighted
by the summer, 2011 civil uprising in Israel which continues until today. Syria
A National Treasure
The Land that had appeared to be almost useless and was used to attack Jews for so many years has today been turned into a rich agricultural area. An Jewish National Treasure and a gift from above, the Golan draws 2,000,000 tourists every year.
The 21,000 Israelis living in 32 rural communities and the town of Qatzrin have created a new community model based on verses in Tehillim 133:1-2: "Behold, how good and how pleasant is the dwelling of brothers together in unity….so too the dew of Hermon descends upon the mountains of Zion; for there HaShem commanded the blessing. May there be life forever!”
You can see this blessing fulfilled in this strikingly beautiful area, now inhabited by so many Jews, farmers and city dwellers, religious and secular, Israeli born and new immigrants. Living next to the hostile Syrian border and small in size – 1,158 sq. km., the
Heights is nevertheless fruitful and productive. Surely G-d has
commanded His blessing and rewarded them for loving His Land and each other.
In the Golan, you can see the fulfillment of the prophetic words of Yechezk’el 36:35: "This Land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden.”
Since we have returned, with G-d’s help, Jewish communities have produced
of orchards, 5,000 acres
of agricultural land with crops, and a production of 35,000 tons of flowers.
There are 20,000 heads of cattle with 5,000 dairy cows producing an astounding
60 million liters of milk per year. Also, there are thousands of sheep, goats,
turkeys, and ducks. There are cotton tomatoes, corn and onions fields, as well
as apple, peach, cherry, blueberry, raspberry, avocado, plum, apricot,
nectarine, mango, grapefruit, banana, and date orchards.