Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hashalom Observation Point — Tatzpit Hashalom©


The breathtaking, panoramic view of the entire Sea of Galilee seen from Mitzpeh Hashalom leaves a lasting impression. This observation point was set up by members of Kibbutz Kfar Charuv on the edge of basalt-cliffs of the southern Golan Heights, surrounded by the untamed gardens of a beautiful nature reserve.

Hashalom Observation Point gives a birds-eye  view of the entire Kinneret, showing how the Syrians could see into Israel from 1948 to 1967. During the 1967 Six Day War, Hashem helped the IDF to liberate the area, thereby stopping the shelling of settlements in the valley below, which were fired on by the Syrian army from this exact spot Tatzpit Hashalom.

This may be the most spectacular vista in the Golan and there is no entrance fee. It can be reached via Road 98.

Viewed from Mitzpeh Hashalom are the high, snow-clad peaks of Mount Hermon and Mount Tabor (here the heavenly bodies fought Sisra on behalf of Devorah and Barak), as well as the fertile fields of the Jordan Valley. There are audio information stations at the site for those who would like to learn more about the local geography.

The Kinneret and Teveria
From the lookout, one can see the Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee), shaped like a harp (kinor), spread out in its entire length and width and sparkling like a sapphire in the sun. This is the lowest freshwater lake in the world, and 35 percent of Israels water is derived from this water source.

Directly ahead, on the opposite bank of the lake, Teveria spills out over the hill. It is said that each one of the four holy cities of Eretz Yisrael Yerushalayim, Teveria, Tzfas, and Chevron represents one of the four elements of Creation: fire, water, air and earth, respectively. Teveria is the one symbolizing water.

The fact that it is on the banks of the Kinneret adds to this analogy. No doubt, the fact that it is built around 17 natural mineral hot springs left over from the Flood in the time of Noach that are world-renowned for their curative powers, also enhances the concept.

In fact, in Megillah (6a), Rav Yochanan identified Teveria as Chamas because of the Chamei Teveria (hot-water springs). It is asked why the Omnipresent did not create warm springs in Yerushalayim, like those of Teveria. The answer given is So that a person should not say, Coming to Yerushalayim for Yom Tov was worth it just to bathe in the hot springs, and then the mitzvah will not be done lishmah.

Rava asserts that Rekes is Teveria. (Some say this means Tiberias was built on the site of the destroyed village of Rakkath, mentioned in Sefer Yehoshua [19:35]). Rekes is so called because reikanim (empty people) in it are full of mitzvos, like a pomegranate is full of seeds. Rava says the reason that Rekes is referred to as Teveria is because tovah reiyasah, its appearance from afar is good, in addition to its being beautiful close up.

Rav Yirmiyah says it is called Teveria because it is in the tiburah (in the center, like the navel) of Eretz Yisrael. It was also the center of Torah study during those times. After the destruction of the Second Beis Hamikdash, the Sanhedrin moved here. It was in Teveria that the Talmud Yerushalmi was written down. The Rambam writes that before the coming of Moshiach, the Sanhedrin will be reinstated in Teveria, and from there it will move on to Yerushalayim.

In 1558 (or 1559), the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent gave Dona Gracia Mendes various concessions to Tiberias. In 1561 her nephew, Don Yosef Nasi, obtained confirmation and extension of this grant, giving him ruling authority in the city and several nearby villages, for substantial annual payments.

Teveria was then mostly in ruins. In the winter of 1564-65, the rebuilding of the ruined walls of Teveria was completed, ensuring a certain degree of physical security. Dona Gracia intended to found a yeshivah in the city.

Yosef Nasi tried to give Teveria an economic foundation by planting mulberry trees (for silk production) and encouraging artisans to move there. The aim was to make Teveria into a major new center of Jewish settlement, trade, and learning, and indeed, several hundred families settled there.

Jewish communities of Italian Papal states were also invited to move to Teveria, and were offered stipends. Numerous families excitedly prepared to move. Unfortunately, the Teveria plan failed, as Turkey and Venice then went to war.

Tzfas

The city that symbolizes air Tzfas can also be observed from Tatzpit Hashalom. Tzfas was founded by Shem ben Noach after the Great Flood. Sefer Shoftim says the area where it is located was assigned to the Tribe of Naftali. After Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 (while Columbus was sailing the ocean), they began to come in large numbers to Tzfas, the city associated with mysticism and Kabbalah.

The Arizal lived and taught here. Tzfas was also home to Rav Yosef Caro, author of the Shulchan Aruch. Rav Moshe Cordovero and Rav Shlomo Alkabetz, composer of Lecha Dodi, lived in Tzfas, as well.

Standing on a high peak one can make out Meron, the resting place of Rabi Shimon bar Yochai.

Ginosar

To Teverias north is the green valley of Ginosar in the tribal inheritance of Naftali. One opinion in the Gemara says that Lake Kinneret derives its name from Ginosars real name, Kinneres. The reason it was called Kinneres is because its fruit is as sweet as the sound of kinarim (lyres).

The Gemara speaks of peiros Ginosar (fruits of Ginosar) these are glorious, extremely sweet fruits growing in the region of the Kinneret, which area is known for its special climate and bounty of superb fruits. To this day, the area is very fruitful, generating lush produce.

The subtropical climate of the Jordan Valley area is hot in the summer and moderate in the winter. These climate conditions are favorable for fruit growing and allow Ginosars plantations to keep producing bananas all year round. They also produce mango, avocado, and citrus fruits.

Meam Loez quotes the Gemara (Pesachim 8b) that tells us the fruits of Ginosar were so flavourful that it was asked, Why are the fruits of Ginosar not found in Yerushalayim? The answer given is So that the pilgrims should not say, Were it incumbent on us only to eat the fruits of Ginosar in Jerusalem, it would be enough [of a reason to go up to Jerusalem]!

Brachos 44 says if a person would eat something extremely salty, its blessing would take precedence over the blessing for bread. But why would someone eat something so unbelievably salty? This situation would arise if one had eaten something so sweet that the flavour needed counterbalancing, as consuming such food had made the person weak. The Gemara then goes on to explain how the only thing that could be so exceedingly sweet are the fruits of Ginosar.

The fruits of Ginosar were the first in the Holy Land to ripen. People did not wait for the produce of their portion to ripen first, but paid a high price so as to obtain the Ginosar fruits in order to be able to recite the Shehecheyanu blessing on them. Shevet Naftali received Ginosar in keeping with the blessing Yaakov Avinu gave him: Naftali is a running deer that gives beautiful fruits (Bereishis 49:21). Just as a deer runs faster than all the other animals, so too, the fruits of this chelek ripen faster and before any others in the country.

When Reish Lakish ate even a small amount of these fruits, he became drunk. Rabi Yochanan informed Rabi Yehudah Hanasi of the situations, who sent police officers to bring Reish Lakish back to his home. Harav Avigdor Miller, ztl, explains that as Reish Lakish would be eating the fruits, he was contemplating the wisdom with which Hashem has created them. He then became delirious with excitement over Hashems investment in each type of fruit. He simply went into ecstasy seeing the Hand of Hashem all the forethought and planning invested in fruits so that mankind should realize there is a loving Creator Who wants man to enjoy himself and thereby come to yiras Hashem.

Rav Ami and Rav Asi ate fruits of Ginosar until their hair fell out. Rav Avahu ate fruits of Ginosar until his face glowed and became very smooth, which would cause flies to slip off his face.

Kalba Savua the father-in-law of Rabbi Akivah, had a palace in the valley of Ginosar.

Kfar Charuv (Carob Village), located in the area, was founded by Anglo immigrants in 1973. It took its name from an Arab village that was once located there on what had been the settlement Charuva which existed there during the Talmudic era. Today, secular, traditional and religious Jews live there.

Directions to Tatzpit Hashalom
From the Tzemach Junction, go eastward on Road 98. After approximately 3 km, turn left toward Ein Gev and Katzrin. Continue until Coursi Junction, and go up in the direction of Ramat Hagolan until Pick Junction. Turn right and travel straight on, until you pass Kibbutz Kfar Charuv. About 200 meters southward is the right turn into Mitzpeh Hashalom.

Alternatively, one can also reach the observation point by way of Chamat Gader, via a steep and

twisted ascent, as follows: From Tzemach Junction, go eastward on Road 98 in the direction of Chamat Gader. Before the entrance to Chamat Gader, turn left toward Ramat Hagolan, the continuation of Road 98. The road goes up and twists until you reach the Golan Heights, at which point it becomes straighter. After passing Kibbutz Mevo Chama, the entrance to Mitzpeh Hashalom will be to your left. (Tel: 04- 696-2885.)

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