Saturday, April 9, 2011

Nissan - Redemption and Redeeming the Land

Every time I return to Netzer, the Jewish State Land area of fields and hills between the towns of Alon Shvut and Elazar, I am in awe of the beauty of the place and the feeling of serenity all around me. It's the first place in Gush Etzion that I ever saw delicate gazelles leaping through the valley, free and magnificent. The sun was shining right on the white spots on their backs and looked like heavenly stars shooting through the valley. It absolutely took my breath away. On each of the different plots of Jewish land in Netzer, there are benches that kind folks donated so that lucky visitors could relax and contemplate whatever it is they contemplate when faced with the vast nature-filled panorama of Israel at its best. How ironic it is that in this pastoral paradise of Netzer, Arabs are engaging in a campaign of agricultural terrorism – uprooting Jewish trees and attacking Jewish farmers who are working the land there. Since the first days of planting more than two years ago, Jews have done their best to protect the saplings and grape vines planted there. But the truth is that Netzer is protecting the Jewish towns of Alon Shvut, Elazar (actually, all of Gush Etzion) and creating Jewish continuity between the communities of Gush Etzion. If not for the Jewish fields of Netzer, the towns of Alon Shvut and Elazar would be isolated from one another, Israeli islands in a sea of Arab-claimed land. While not all of Gush Etzion's residents might understand this, the Arabs know it well. And that is why they bring in heavy machinery and anarchists to grab as much land as they can. While we have no idea why Arabs are not stopped from planting on Jewish land, we are shocked that the Civil Administration puts "destruction orders" on Jewish trees, whose whole purpose is to safeguard the Land of Israel and cultivate a deeper connection to our G-d given Land. On Thursday, led by Women in Green's Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katzover, and under the auspices of the Yibaneh Fund, a few dozen Gush Etzion residents, along with supporters from Jerusalem came to Netzer to replant the trees that were uprooted by Arabs two weeks before. When Jewish men had come to Netzer to replant the saplings, they were attacked by a group of Arabs, and then taken to the police and bizarrely given a "tzav" (command) to distance themselves from the area. The arrival of the group on Thursday, right after Rosh Chodesh Nissan, was very significant. Firstly, the event in which we planted dozens of trees (in the area that had previously been uprooted) was a sign of Nissan's Redemption. We learn that in Nissan we were redeemed, and IY"H, in Nissan we will be redeemed in the future. One the of the signs of Jewish redemption is the flourishing of Jewish agriculture. Next, the event embodied everything for which religious Zionists stand. We were a group of diverse Israelis uniting to show our love for our land, and then joining together for a shiur by one of the leading women Torah teachers in the world today, Rebbezin Shani Taragin. So, it was a day of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael, filled with Torat Yisrael. I am sure that if residents of Gush Etzion understood the importance of Jewish continuity among its communities then Jewish agriculture would flourish through our region. I hope the realization will not come too late, chas v'shalom. For a glimpse of the planting and the shiur by Rebbetzin Shani Taragin, click here:

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