Love of the Land

For the week ending 27 November 2004 / 14 Kislev 5765

The Stone that Returned

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Desecration of Jewish graves on the Mount of Olives during the Jordanian occupation of East Jerusalem is not something of the past century alone. Back in the early 1800s a gang of Greek Orthodox Christians decided to go in the way of their Moslem neighbors and steal headstones from Jewish graves to use for their homes and places of worship.

The particular stone the Greeks set their sights on was the massive headstone of the grave of Kalba Savua, the saintly father-in-law of Rabbi Akiva. It was no easy matter removing such a large stone from the gigantic cave in which the tomb was located. They were so exhausted by the time they got the stone to the entrance of the cave that they decided to leave it there for the night and return in the morning after getting some rest.

When they returned, the stone had disappeared. Assuming that it must have fallen from the spot where they had left it, they began an anxious search, only to discover that the stone was resting on the grave of the tzaddik where they had first found it. Undaunted by this strange event they tried two more times, only to be foiled by the stones miraculous return to its rightful place. They finally gave up and conceded that Heaven frowned upon their effort to desecrate such a sacred grave.

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