Ben Yosef Livnat 311.
(photo credit: Family Courtesy)
The head of the group behind the clandestine forays into Nablus to access
Joseph’s Tomb stressed on Tuesday that such nocturnal expeditions would continue
“with greater vigor and might,” just two days after Ben-Yosef Livnat was killed
at the site by PA policemen.
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Benny Machlev, director-general of the Yesod
Olam Society, explained why some – primarily Breslav Hassidim like himself – put
themselves at risk to be physically present, even if for short periods of time,
at sites believed to be the burial sites of important Jewish
“Every rabbi will tell you that the sanctity and dignity of the
grave site of a righteous person must be safeguarded, and we must strengthen our
control of it,” he said.
“Of course,” Machlev continued, “the rabbis do
not want people to do this in a way that endangers lives.
sites is a personal goal – so that each and every person might be able to freely
enter these holy sites.”
Since 2007, the IDF permits and secures a
monthly delegation, usually numbering between 700 to 900 men and women,
coinciding with Rosh Hodesh – the beginning of the new Jewish month.
this option does not satisfy everyone.
To Machlev’s estimate, there are
approximately 40- 50 clandestine night trips to Joseph’s Tomb every month,
reaching some 400 men altogether – “of whom 50 percent are
Machlev confirmed the report that the influential Rabbi
Eliezer Berland, leader of the Jerusalem-based Shuvu Banim Breslav community
which Livnat was part of, told his hassidim not to visit Joseph’s Tomb in the
days between Pessah and Shavuot (the days of sefirat ha’omer), since this period
is one of disasters for Jews. Normally, Berland’s hassidim make a special point
of visiting Joseph’s Tomb.
Recently appointed Chief Rabbi of Samaria
Elyakim Levanon on Tuesday called on rabbis not to send their students and
disciples to Joseph’s Tomb without coordinating with the IDF.
tell their students to go there are not familiar with the situation in Nablus
and endanger their students’ lives,” he said on Radio Kol Hai.
dangers and loss of a member of their community notwithstanding, “We will
continue to enter with greater vigor and might,” Machlev said, without saying
when and if their methods of entry will change.
“There is always a
feeling of danger,” he said. “This is not a night out in Tel Aviv; we are
dealing with a city of murderers,” he said of Nablus.
As for the
composition of those who go to the tomb against the army’s orders, “It’s all
kinds of people, not just Breslav Hassidim,” Machlev said. “You have settlers,
haredim – basically anyone who is worried about the site.”
Of course, it
is the Breslav movement that is the dominant force in Joseph’s Tomb and other
similar sites in Israel and elsewhere, Machlev said, “since it is the Breslav
Hassidim who have sanctified safeguarding our forefathers’ graves.”