Before the recent days of Rosh Hashana I was standing in prayer at the Kotel .A man from the new community of Yevul that I had known from the days of the expulsion from Gush Katif ,tapped my shoulder. After warm greetings he said that he had a gift for my family in the car
The people of Yevul were all former residents of the Netzarim community that had been situated perilously close to the city of Gaza. They were a community that painfully suffered many losses to terrorism but nevertheless steadfastly held on to their belief felt that holding unto their land was critical for Israel’s security.
Yitzchak Rabin once said of this community, ” If Netzarim did not exist I would have to create it. Netzarim is the greatest reason for our military presence to be in an area so close to the city Gaza and its port .The Gaza port has been the main funnel for destructive weapons and due to the courage of these people we are right there, watching”
What terrorism could not do,though, the government of Ariel Sharon did.
These courageous families were expelled from their homes in a swift and cruel government sanctioned police operation. This theological and ideological slap in the face rattled many, broke some and angered a large segment of the people of Israel. The community of Netzarim decided not to wallow in self pity or drown in anger. They decided to look for new challenges and to rebuild and to find new directions for their voyage of destiny.
Some of the community moved into a most remote corner of the Halutza desert nestled in the southern tip of the Negev desert between the borders of Egypt and the Gaza strip. In the newly established town of Yevul, over fifty families began living in caravans slowly establishing schools, roads, hopes and dreams. This Halutza desert was the very land that Ben Gurion once envisioned would begin to flower with the arrival of young Israeli pioneers. Yet he never found the people to actualize his dream .
The residents of Gush Katif who had achieved “the miraculous” on the sand dunes of Gaza were now poised to repeat their divinely directed ventures in the sands of the Negev. From the mouth of the prophets; The wilderness and the parched land shall be glad; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose,”( Isaiah 35:1)
In the words of Shlomit Ziv who spoke with Israel National News reporter Yoni Kempinski, she explained that their involvement with their new challenge has helped them cope with the trauma of the evacuation. “Being in the desert,” she says “makes you become more modest, because it’s the desert and you see in your own eyes that everything is in the hands of G-d.”
They began to flatten the sand dunes and build the hothouses. They have built schools and have just moved into their first homes. With the help of friends from Canada and the U.S. they forced the dream into reality. This partnership between the Jews of the exile and the Jews of Netzarim has even forced the Israeli government to begin to do their share.
Now, five years later, from the Kotel, I walked Yair Ziv over to his car as he pulled out several baskets of pomegranates. “This is the gift I was telling you about. These are of from the first pomegranates that we have grown in the sand dunes.’ he told me I carried them home as if I was carrying religious objects. These were holy testimonies of promise, hope and fulfillment. Two days later we began the Rosh Hashana festival. I recited my Shecheyanu blessing on these precious fruit.” Blessed is He who has sustained us and has kept us for this time.
The Pomegranate has always been the symbol of blessing in Jewish thinking Most fruits are made up of pulp and seeds.
Pulp is all about feeding and sustaining oneself.
Seeds are about granting further blessing.
The pomegranate is made up of all seeds and very little pulp. The pomegranate therefore represents something that is all about the unselfish desire to grant further blessing in the world and is not so concerned about the feeding and sustaining of itself.
In a world that is quickly descending into greater selfishness and confusion it is good to know that in this land we have people imbued with the quality and essence of the pomegranate fruit.” Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits (song of songs 4:13).