Israel Forever

For the week ending 17 November 2007 / 7 Kislev 5768

Gateway to Heaven

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Many a visitor to Israel makes a point of going to the Kotel in order to say farewell to the Holy Land before leaving.

This is perhaps an echo of what our forefather Yaakov experienced before leaving Eretz Yisrael for a long sojourn with his uncle Lavan in a foreign land. At the very site where someday would stand the Beit Hamikdash he had a prophetic vision of G-d speaking to him from atop a ladder upon which Heavenly angels ascended and descended.

"How awesome is this place!" he exclaimed. "This can only be the House of the L-rd and this is the gateway to Heaven."

This sense of holiness which every Jew has when he is at the only remnant of the House of the L-rd which once stood behind the Kotel is unfortunately left behind by most visitors when they return to their homes in Israel and abroad. Yaakov took this holiness with him and it enabled him to survive the negative influence of Lavan. It is to be hoped that reading about Yaakov in this week's Torah portion will inspire Jews to make Kotel holiness an integral part of their daily lives and thus secure Israel forever.

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