Roy Neuberger - Nov. 22, 2019

“How did Avraham discover the Cave of Machpela? He was running after a calf, as it is written, ‘Then Avraham ran to the herd,’ (Genesis 18:7) The calf fled into the cave [and] Avraham followed it …. Also, he used to pray every day and go out into the field, from which wafted sublime fragrances. He saw a light coming from that cave and prayed there and the Holy One Blessed is He spoke to him there. Therefore, he desired that cave….” (Zohar 1:127a)

Tzaddikim (holy people) desire to be in a place of kedusha (purity).

“The Patriarch Avraham entered [the Cave of Machpela]. He smelled the fragrance of the Garden of Eden. He heard the heavenly angels saying, ‘Adam is buried there; Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov are destined for this place.’ And he saw the candle lit…. Before Avraham came, many wanted to be buried there, but angels were guarding the place…. People saw a fire burning in it and could not enter until Avraham came, entered and acquired the place.” (Zohar Chadash, Rus 79b)

We recently davened maariv (the evening prayer) at Ma’aras Hamachpela. I thought it particularly appropriate, because the illumination emanating from this holy place is the only source of light. Here – surrounded by over a hundred thousand hostile inhabitants of Chevron – Adam and Chava, Avraham and Sarah, Yitzchak and Rivka, Yaakov and Leah rest at the entrance to Gan Eden.

My friends, we are all surrounded by hostile enemies. The light emanating from the Garden of Eden is the only thing we have to hang onto. The perfect fragrance wafting from this place is where our desires should be directed. As Hashem says, “Fear not, Avram, I am a shield for you!” (Genesis 15:1) Similarly, the Novi tells us, “Hashem has redeemed Yaakov and delivered him from a power mightier than he.” (Jeremiah 31:10)

This week my wife and I spoke at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, home of Rabbi Fully Eisenberger’s legendary Jewish Resource Center (JRC). There are almost 45,000 students here and I don’t have to tell you what a field day the Evil Inclination has in this boiling stew of liberalism. It always amazes us that, amidst the challenges, there are still people searching for the pure light and holy aroma. This is the legacy of Avraham Avinu. It is also the legacy of those who survived the Forty-Ninth Level of Impurity in Biblical Egypt, the destruction of the First and Second Temples and the Holocaust. It is the legacy of those who have survived two thousand years of Exile with their souls unblemished.

“Israel, Your people, prepares supplication because they are distressed and need to be helped. Their oppressors prolong the yoke upon them … all this has befallen them, but they bless Your Name.” (Selichos for BEHAB)

One can find the entrance to the Garden of Eden. We can imitate our Father Avraham.

Soon, the day will come when “ohr chadash al Tzion ta’ir … [Hashem] shines a new light on Tzion … and may we all speedily merit its light!” (Morning Prayer)


  1. Surrounded by enemies: Ma’aras Hamachpela (burial place of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs) viewed from the site of King David’s palace high above the City of Chevron.

  1. The Evening Prayer at Ma’aras Hamachpela

  1. Rabbi Fully Eisenberger (left) with the author and a student at the University of Michigan JRC in Ann Arbor


Recent Posts


tabernacle shofar mikveh Babylon Maimonides Zion, Angel kiddush meraglim siddur Psalm evil spiritual Tzuk etan Shavuos stars David Beit Hamikdash Lot mitzvos Joseph rabbi terrorist Red Sea Jewish holidays Torah scholars materialism murder lights Golus Amram self-worship leprosy peace Ashkenazi Ishmeal Moab Shabbos Sukkos King of the Universe Greeks chessed hubris prayer book song evil inclination resurrection Terror Attack in Jerusalem Moshaich Temple bris milah sun light repentance commandment terror Protective edge kosher exile eternity Gog creation Malbim Bais Hamikdosh blessing Solomon mitzva culture forefathers three weeks angels Moses Benjamin keys Mount Hermon Angel of Death Western Wall Genesis Israel Canaan logic Rome salvation Pinchas water eternal Tu b'Shvat prophet Hagar Macabees trees redeemer Babylonia Shechina Ruth United Nations Exodus Day of Atonement Dead Sea Holy Temple Geula messiah Mount Sinai soul Children of Israel sanctity rain Matisyahu Balak Holy Ark missiles Ezekiel pray Zion Bilaam Esau Shushan Jacob Isaiah death Haman High Holy Days Sabbath Judaism Jews Passover Seder Teshuva Parsha Western World Eve fragrance Samuel Esther Magog priests Miriam cholent Torah America Jewish People Judgement Day Boaz Achashveirosh Banias danger Lunar eclipse Rabbi Akiva prophets Sea of Galilee patriarchs'matriarchs Creator kesuba G-d Song of Songs India Rabbis Mordechai Chanukah Jewish brotherhood Yaakov Abraham fault Miraglim Red Heifer Leah Midrash Maccabeans Holy land Eglon Solar eclipse fear Tu b'Av moon Purim paradise sacrifices Rashi Torah portion Chafetz Chaim Rosh Hashanah heavenly throne war Hebrew chaos King Solomon holy biblical tremors Final redemption Jeremiah 2020 Vision Temple Mount incense Tallis Rachel fires matzos Laban Raiders of the Lost Ark Jewish festival shield of Abraham kinneret Blame Golden Calf miracles purity dreams terrorism repent minyan synagogue liberation Sarah earthquake secret Amalek Passover Garden of Eden Abrahem Divine presence New Moon Avraham shmittah Sodom Psalms Golan Repentence Moshiach Chofetz Chaim spirituality spies Second Temple Isaac barley Matriarchs angel Tefillin night Talmud Prophecy plague idolatry Faith menorah End of Days Elul Baku Tisha b'Av Noah Rebecca Adam Yom Kippur Zohar Ten Commandments Edom evolution tears Day of Judgement Chol haMoed Land of Israel heavenly gates Nation of Israel seder yarmulke redemption locusts slavery prayers prayer esrog prophet Samuel Ishamael Yerushalayim Europe Heavenly Mercy bible Father in Heaven Mount Zion cries flood Jerusalem Earth Sefiras haOmer Master of the Universe Zechariah media Sages alone Chanukkah Egypt Ishmael Hashem ethics darkness pain Pharaoh automobiles violence compassion miracle Hasmoneans God Rosh Hashana Galil persecution patriarchs Holocaust Holiness king sin terrorists heaven judgement world to come yeshiva stones Judah gossip holiday rosh chodesh Samuel the Prophet Aharon King David Sephardi idol ancestors Ammon deluge Moshe bird survival High Priest mikveh, Sabbath tablets Rebbe slaves Sukkah enemies Jew