Rabbi Goren is in Australia on a United Jewish Appeal. While in Melbourne he hears that President Nasser ordered the removal of UN forces from the Sinai Peninsula, understands that a war is about to break, and looks for the fastest way to return to Israel.
On Saturday at a New York Synagogue, Rabbi Goren meets the Jewish crowd. He tells them: "I swear that in any constellation, against whichever enemy we'll have to fight, on any front, against one or all Arab countries, we shall be victorious… I intend to blow a Shofar at the Western Wall." On his arrival in Israel the Rabbi meets Yitzhak Rabin and other General Staff officers, and is tasked with clarifying the military situation to the religious Government Ministers. It is imperative to decide on whether or not going to war, do we have a chance to win. There is much anxiety, most officers do not think we stand a chance.
Rabbi Goren meets the head of military intelligence – "I have decided that we should go to war…" a meeting with (Colonel) Gorodish, who is encouraging, saying different things than the other officers: "I promise you, it is my responsibility, that any say, any hour, against any enemy, we shall destroy the foe." Rabbi Goren responded: "Shmulik, you revived me!"
Rabbi Goren's meeting with the religious ministers. "I already saw a new spirit inspiring them." Later on he gathers all military rabbis and chaplain to discuss religious requirements during a war. He talks about identifying the dead, temporary burials in the north and south of the county, mobilization of commands' burial units, the lack of Torah Scrolls. Hundreds of thousand copies were printed of a pre-battle prayer penned by Rabbi Goren.
A meeting with the Chief of Staff. Rabbi Goren received the chief rabbinate approval to deal with all matters regarding warfare. Upon hearing about the order to shave beards due to the possible use of gas masks, he refuses vehemently. After arduous negotiations the Chief Engineering officer agrees with the Rabbi. Asking for a special budget to cover religious folklore.
Special directions regarding burial in war. A meeting with the Chief of Staff and the Commands' chiefs, regarding what is permitted and what not on the Sabbath. The people of Jerusalem wish to defend themselves from bombardments by digging trenches on the Sabbath. Tadiran religious employees are asking for a one time permission to work on the Sabbath in war preparations, preparing C rations, are new recruits allowed to train on the Sabbath. Telling about meeting orthodox Jews volunteering for the war, and about his speech to soldiers on the Sabbath prior to the war: "I have signs regarding the war's outcomes, if we will engage in war we shall be victorious. Citing from this week's Torah Portion: "and your enemies will fall by the sword before you" (Leviticus, 16, 8). Tells the soldiers that he plans to pray at the Western Wall and on Shavuot read the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.
Notified that the war will start in 24 hours. Meets Motta Gur, Paratroopers' Brigade commanders, who was disappointed due to the cancellation of his mission. The rabbi as well as the Chief of Staff encourage him. The rabbi adds that in previous conversations with Motta, the former said that he would be the first Jew to approach the Western Wall. Motta replied that in this case the Rabbi should stick by his side. "Why?" the Rabbi asked? "Because I will be the one to occupy the Old City (p. 25). In another conversation with Motta Gur they discussed warfare in Holy Places. A manifest is printed to raise the soldiers' moral towards going to war.
pp. 28 – 32
The beginning of the war. Sending the Chief of Staff a special blessing: ""and your enemies will fall by the sword before you" (Leviticus, 16, 8). Rabbi Goren knows, as he told researchers from the IDF's History department, that Rabin kept this note all through the war. He tells them about the prayer leaflets he distributed among the Commands' chiefs. As the first siren is heard Rabbi Goren calls loudly "Mazal Tov." (p. 28), immediately mobilizing the burial unit. Recites on Galey Zahal radio station the manifest written for the soldiers (p. 29). Two temporary graveyards are established in the south of the country, the Rabbi departs there to verify the proper work of the burial units. The Rabbi calls his wife on the phone, telling her: "Mazal Tov, we won the war" (p. 31). On the way south he distributes among the soldiers the prayer offered before a voyage. On meeting Zvi Levanon, who kisses the Torah Scroll, the Rabbi offers Levanon to join him. All injured soldiers wish to kiss the Torah Scroll.
Relates how he asked at the Operations Branch whether we are "going for Jerusalem." When dealing with burial issues in the south, he is informed that "something may develop." (p. 34). Departing with Zvi Levanon and the Torah Scroll. They are bombarded. The Rabbi's driver in injured, and the Rabbi treats him. Holding a Shofar from the Sinai War in one hand, and a Torah Scroll from the War of Independence in the other. He is not allowed to continue with the combatants. His command car is hit by a shell, there is one dead and a few injured. "Hadad was somewhat away from me, and kept calling 'Rabbi Goren, are you alive?' I lay down, indulging in self-examination." (p. 38)
The burial arrangements are changing. The Rabbi insists on the establishment of temporary burial grounds. On finding his injured driver in Ashkelon's hospital both are very moved after doubting that any of them would stay alive.
The Rabbi is ordered not to establish the temporary burial grounds in the south. He drives to Jerusalem.
pp. 44 – 48
On arriving at the Schneler base, the Rabbi finds it empty. The place was bombarded and all its occupants moved the Evelina De-Rothschild School. Wishing to know about the old city, the Rabbi is asked to be patient. He returns to the Gaza Strip. Establishes a temporary burial ground in Kibbutz Be'eri. Tries to reach Rafah, to extract some dead from their tanks, but forced to return to Be'eri, trying to fulfill the Manpower Branch Head's order, to transfer the casualties northward.
pp. 49 – 54
27 Iyyar, June 6, back to Jerusalem. Driving to visit Motta Gur and his soldiers who are holding prisoners at the Rockefeller Museum. He understands that Motta was ordered by the Minister of Defense not to enter the Old City. The Rabbi stays there, despite Motta's request that he should leave. "I am not moving from here," the Rabbi replies. (p. 54)
Following Motta Gur's entreaties the Rabbi goes to the command post, receiving updates on the burial arrangements in the various fronts. In the south burials are conducted according to his wishes. On hearing about hungry soldiers in Jerusalem, he fills his car with cakes and return to Jerusalem. On his way he meets Jacob Herzog, who is going to discuss the capture of the Old City with the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister. The Rabbi says to Herzog: "Know that we shall never be atoned. We are neglecting an irrevocable opportunity" (p. 56). Herzog promises to apply pressure.
"I made contact with Motta, who said he was looking for me… we are advancing to the "Lions Gate." P. 57
"I drove at full speed flew to Rockefeller, took the Torah Scroll and the Shofar (the one burnt in Gaza was replaced by Rabbi Goren's brother "The Hermit") left the car and with one hand holding the Shofar, the one holding the Tora Scroll, I ran to the lions Gate."
"All the while I was blowing the Shofar and reciting from the Book of Psalms." P. 59
Meeting Motta and his soldiers on the Temple Mount, singing "Jerusalem of Gold," running to the Western Wall, where they are hanging the Ink Flag. "It was like in a dream". P. 60
"This is the Western Wall. I stretched myself on the ground, rose up, blessed "She'Hecheianu," and blessed be the comforter of Zion and builder of Jerusalem. Nobody was there. I saw the Devine Presence there. P. 61
pp. 62 – 66
The Chief of Staff's entourage, Motta Gur and other senior officers arrived to the Western Wall. The Rabbi says Kaddish over the fallen. Dispatches his driver to summon the "Hermit" and head Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva (Rabbi Zvi Yehuda HaCohen Kook). On arriving to the Wall they cry. Citizens begin arriving at the Western Wall.
pp. 67 – 69
The Rabbi, and some soldiers wishing to do so, enter the Temple Mount. "I think that this is the first and only time in history, following the Temple's destruction, that a Torah Scroll and a Shofar are present here." (p. 67). Ending the second part of his manifesto with the words: "This Year in Jerusalem." On his way out of the Mount the Rabbi meets Motta Gur, asking the latter about their agreement. Motta writes on the original manifesto "Today I fulfilled my promise. I have never so much enjoyed and was excited as today in fulfilling a promise. The Temple Mount is liberated, you prayed at the Western Wall with me at your side. May we be blessed to hear good things about Jerusalem for many years to come. Motta" (p. 68) a group of paratroopers joins Rabbi Goren. They go to the Old City synagogues. The Rabbi is asking for a respected Holy Ark to be brought there.
Hebron. Abraham Tamir (Avrasha, then commanding Brigade 99) and Amos Horev join the Rabbi on the Journey to Hebron. On their way they stop in Bethlehem, looking for the Tomb of Rachel. After the two others left for Hebron, the Rabbi finds the Tomb, breaking its lock with a pliers. Following a short prayer in the Tomb of Rachel, the Rabbi continues to Gush Etzion, where soldiers are preparing to advance on Hebron. The Rabbi tells them: "You are embarking on the liberation of the second most holy city in the world. You are attacking the worst killers living in Eretz Israel." (p. 750) The brigade commander tells the Rabbi that he shall not delay in Hebron, just crossing the city and "see how it goes." The Rabbi goes looking for Zvika Offer (a senior officer of the Jerusalem Brigade), who is supposed to stop in Hebron.
pp. 78 – 83.
The Rabbi drives alone to Hebron, describing its residents: "All along the road we saw Arabs, with their hands up" (p. 78). He sees white flags on the buildings. Arriving at Park Hotel he takes a break, waiting for the troops. Those arriving are driving in another direction. The Rabbi asks an Arab young man to help him find "Abraham's grave." On his arrival there he finds the place locked. Someone from the inside tells him that he has no keys. Zvika Offer and his troops refuse to help him, since their mission is to take the city of Hebron. "Hebron is already occupied by our forces, everything is fine," the Rabbi tells them. The troops continue and the Rabbi keeps trying to force the lock. He takes a flag from a passing command car, hanging it on the wall. On their arrival, Avrasha and Amos explain to the Rabbi how to break a gate: "with one's shoulders."
pp. 84 – 86.
In the cave they meet two men holding the keys to the place. One of them open all doors, another man arrives telling the Rabbi that the Hebron's mayor wishes to submit the town's surrender. The Rabbi leaves a note with the gate keeper forbidding entry to the cave without proper guidance and approval of an officer. Later he drives to the town hall, meeting there Zvika Offer and Hebron's Mayor, submitting the town's surrender. The Rabbi returns to Jerusalem.
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