Hassidim illegally enter Nablus to pray

Breslavers going to Joseph's Tomb force troops to abandon hunt for terrorists.

josephs tomb sign 88 (photo credit: )
josephs tomb sign 88
(photo credit: )
Two Breslav Hassidim and a settler, braving Palestinian terrorists, broke through an IDF barricade in Nablus Wednesday night and entered Josef's Tomb to pray. The three were arrested by the IDF as they left the tomb and were transferred to police for investigation. A special military directive forbids entering the tomb, which is in Area A, a territory under the complete control of the Palestinian Authority. An IDF officer in the OC Central Command said that large numbers of Breslav Hassidim and settlers who attempted to enter the tomb forced him to direct forces away from anti-terrorist activities inside Nablus. "Nablus is known to be full of terrorists," said an officer in the OC Central Command. "Our soldiers are trained to fight terrorist attacks originating from Nablus. This time soldiers had to demonstrate special alertness and watch for Israelis going in to the area. "I stress that we have intelligence information that terrorists in Nablus are interested in killing or kidnapping those who wish to visit the tomb. We're doing everything in our power to protect them." The phenomenon of Breslav Hassidim risking their lives to enter Yosef's Tomb is not new. In the film "Like a Dream that Fades," director Yochai Rosenberg followed a group of Breslav Hassidim into Nablus. The Hassidim told stories of miraculous escapes from Palestinian terrorists who shot at them on their way in and out of the tomb. "Hassidim and settlers around the Nablus area who sneak into the tomb to pray are drawn by the spiritual powers of Josef," said Rosenberg. "For them it is spiritual oxygen." The incident coincided with Rosh Chodesh [the first day] of Elul. According to Jewish tradition, Rosh Chodesh Elul marks the beginning of a prolonged repentance process that reaches its climax 40 days later on Yom Kippur. Breslav Hassidim and others believe the prayers of a Jew made at the gravesite of a righteous person have special spiritual force and are more likely to be answered by God.