Summertime is for recharging our batteries. Even The Rebbitzin's Husband is taking a vacation, even though he isn't throughly convinced. So bright and early on the 11th of Av (the first day of bayn hazmanim - 'intersession' for Yeshiva students) David and I found ourselves on the bus participating in a day trip organized as part of the Bible study seminars of the Herzog College in Alon Shvut (which I attended the week before -see here).
We spent the day with Harav Yoel Bin Nun (biography, writings) answering the question: "When did the Israelites reach the sea?" We began our trip coming down out of the Jerusalem hills towards the Mediterranean Sea. Rav Yoel spoke of the geopolitical significance of the land of Israel through the ages and pointed out how it always was an international crossroads. While not a power in its own right it was where the great powers of Egypt to south and Mesopotamia to the east had to pass (overland) to trade or do battle with each other. In the initial conquest of the land (Joshua's time) the Israelites inhabited the hilly areas, having crossed the Jordan from the east. As we saw on our trip, it was not until the time of the Kings (Shlomo and Yoshiyahu) that there was actually Israelite settlement on the coast.
We spent a whole day listening to Rav Yoel talk about everything from archaeological finds at Tel Qasile at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv to the port of Yaffo in the times of the Israelite conquest and later as the site of Jonah's departure to the the impact peace in the Middle East would have on traffic in the Tel Aviv area.
We spent the afternoon in Yaffo discussing its history as a seaport and its inhabitants. This also included as an aside a fascinating analysis of the Jonah story (which I will keep in mind on Yom Kippur as it was worthy of a sermon) given overlooking the ancient port. We also viewed and discussed the sculpture pictured above which stands high in a park near the artist's quarter overlooking the port. It is by Daniel Kafri, a contemporary Israeli sculptor with a fascinating life story which is a must-read here.
The sculpture is called Gate of Faith and depicts Akedat Yitzhak - the binding of Isaac (left in my photo above), Jacob's Dream (right) and the conquest of Jericho on top. You can see more photos of this sculpture here. The message we took with us from the sculpture is that coming into the land and making it ours as depicted by the shofar carrying Israelites must be supported by our beliefs based on the promise made to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. Without that on our doorposts, the lintel would come crashing down.