IDF soldier stands guard at Joseph's Tomb 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Grand Rabbi of the Vishnitz hassidic dynasty Yisrael Hager visited Joseph’s
Tomb in the Palestinian city of Nablus late Monday night accompanied by hundreds
of his hassidim, to pray at the shrine ahead of Rosh Hashana, which is less than
three weeks away.
The visit was arranged by the Samaria Regional Council
and was provided with a full IDF escort. The Book of Joshua records that the
biblical figure Joseph was buried in the city of Shechem, close to present day
Nablus, and the tomb is believed to be his final resting place, although there
is an archeological debate on the issue.
Before visiting the shrine,
Hager was given a guided tour of the Samaria district and addressed his hassidim
in the main synagogue of the Eilon Moreh settlement on the importance of the
shrine and the pilgrimage to it.
Hager was also hosted by Chief Rabbi of
Samaria Elyakim Levanon and several other prominent leaders of the settlement
movement at Levanon’s home in Eilon Moreh, where he was given an overview of
settlement growth and construction in the region, and the establishment of new
yeshivot and religious elementary schools.
The scores of Vishnitz
Hassidim and their rebbe then traveled to the tomb to pray and recite psalms,
following which Hager affixed a new mezuza to the entrance of the recently
Gershon Mesika, head of the Samaria Regional Council,
described the event as “historic and exciting.”
“We’ve hosted at least 10
ministers since we renovated Joseph’s Tomb, but there’s no doubt that this is
the most important and moving visit so far,” said Mesika.
“It has been an
uplifting event to see so many people reciting psalms and connecting to our
ancestor Joseph, and I hope that the visit and the prayers will be heard in
Heaven for the sake of Israel, the Torah of Israel and the Land of
Deputy Education Minister Menahem Eliezer Mozes, a Vishnitz
Hassid, said he was extremely moved to be part of the visit, adding “[we are
living in] times of great influence, both spiritual and physical.”