Great Leaders of our People
One of the most memorable moments of the
Six-Day War of
June, 1967, was Rabbi Goren blowing the “Shofar”
at the “Kotel,” the
Western Wall in Jerusalem. Holding the rank of general, he knew that the
army’s next mission was Hebron, the site of the “Meorat HaMachpelah,” the
Cave of Machpelah, the traditional burial place for
Yaakov and Leah, and the site, as well, of “Kever Rachel,” the roadside
burial place of
Rachel “Imeinu,” our Mother Rachel, who comforted the Jewish Exiles on
their bitter way.
He arranged to be awakened at the beginning of the march, but was left
behind. He ordered his driver to proceed into Hebron, believing that the
Israel Defense Force had captured it already. But he was greeted by the
sight of white sheets hung from roof-tops and windows, throughout the city.
Because he had been there at the time, he immediately understood that
because in the summer of 1929, the local Arabs had massacred 67 Jews and
wounded many others, primarily at the Hebron Yeshiva, the current Arabs were
afraid that the Jews would take revenge, and had chosen to surrender. Rabbi
Goren, single-handedly, thus “captured” a city of some 80,000 Arabs, while
the Army was still planning its attack. Arriving at the “Meorat HaMachpelah,”
where Jews had been denied entry for hundreds of years, he blasted open the
doors with his Uzi submachine gun, and blew the “Shofar,” as he had done the
day before at the Western Wall.
Rav Shlomo was born in Poland, and arrived in Palestine in 1925, at the age
of eight. Four years later, he began his studies at the Hebron Yeshiva. His
first work was on the “Mishneh Torah” of the “Rambam,”
Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, which was published when the author was seventeen.
At the age of twenty-one, he published a study of the Laws of the “Mikvah,”
called “Sha’rei Taharah.”
During the “Milchemet HaShichrur,” Israel’s War of Independence, he fought
in the Jerusalem area. He was appointed chaplain in the army, and rose to
the rank of brigadier-general. During fighting in the 1956 Sinai Campaign
and the Six-Day War, he frequently risked his life to retrieve the bodies of
fallen soldiers for proper burial. He made arrangements for provision of
Kosher food and festival observances, and wrote many “Responsa,” Responses
to questions in Jewish Law, concerning a modern army at war and at peace.
In 1968 he was elected
Rabbi of Tel Aviv – Jaffa and in 1973, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel,
serving until 1983. As Chief Rabbi, among his numerous accomplishments, was
his declaration that it was not only permitted, but actually a religious
commandment, for Jews to go up to the Temple Mount, that had long been
occupied by the Arabs.
The above graphic includes photographs that were provided by VERAfilm archives.