Ask The Rabbi

For the week ending 22 November 2003 / 27 Heshvan 5764

Hebron: Yesterday and Today

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From: Alice in Atlanta, GA

Dear Rabbi,

What is the significance of Hebron to the Jewish people?

(Editors note: this question has a special significance in light of its relationship to this weeks Torah reading.)

Dear Alice,

The Torah says, "Sara died in Kiryat Arba, which is Hebron, in the Land of Canaan" (Gen.23:2).

Kiryat Arba, which means "Town of the Four",is so calledbecause of the four couples buried there: Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sara, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah" (Midrash Rabba).

Ancient Hebron was not only linked to the Patriarchs and Matriarchs but is also mentioned in regard to the mission of the spies sent by Moses to scout the land. One of them Kalev ben Yefuneh was awarded the region of Hebron for his faithful report.

Hebron was also the seat of King David's reign for seven and a half years before he made Jerusalem his capital.

The name Hebron comes from the Hebrew root-word "chibur" meaning "connecting", since it is the place which according to mystical sources is the bridge between this world and the World-to-Come.

Today there is Jewish settlement in Hebron as well as in the adjoining city of Kiryat Arba. The Machpela Cave where the Patriarchs and Matriarchs are buried continues to attract Jewish worshippers and visitors from all over the world.

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