Sukkot: The Three Bedouins
Tradition tells that our forefathers reappear in the flesh in times of need, especially in the holy city of Hevron. One Succoth eve, they appeared in the guise of three Bedouins...
by Noam Arnon
Hebron’s Jewish Community looked forward from year to year to the mitzvah of building a Succa for Succot. One year there a war raged in the hills south of Hebron, between nearby Arab tribes. Fear reigned in the area and the Jews of Hebron could not even venture out of the city to seek thatch for the Succas. The Rabbi decreed that no one should risk his life in search of thatch. As Succot was nearing, there was still no thatch in sight nor an opportunity presenting itself to get any.
The very morning before Succot, three fully armed Bedouins appeared in the square with three camels laden with thatch. They unloaded the camels and left the city. A group of people saw the sight and one of them ran to tell the Shamash who in turn ran to tell the Rabbi. Everyone became excited and pitched in to carry the thatch away to the Succas and finish the work before the holiday began.
In the midst of the first Succot prayers, one began to ask the other who were those three Bedouins? Why, they must have been our three Forefathers!
THE SHABBAT OF HAKAFOT
In the “Abraham Avinu” Synagogue there were two holy arks that housed the Torah scrolls. One for new and kosher scrolls and one for those old and unusable ones. The scrolls of the later ark were used only to dance with on the “Simhat Torah” festivities.
Many years ago, an unfamiliar guest with a respectful appearance appeared in town and came to the synagogue at prayer time. When he was invited to take a Torah scroll to read, he acted as if “he owned the place” and took out a old scroll from the wrong Ark. The people began to grumble, but he ignored them all.
While reciting the proper passages, he walked to the reading desk in the center of the synagogue and was about to place the scroll on it when the Rabbi intervened. “These scrolls are unfit to read from, they are only used to be danced with,” whispered the Rabbi to the guest. The guest listen attentively and said: ”Well, then we should dance with it.” The worshipers were stunned: ”Now?! On a regular Shabbat?! Hakafot?! Noticing the uneasiness among the crowd, the Rabbi said: ”Maybe the man is correct. It would be a disgrace to the scroll if it would be put back without use. Perhaps we should do Hakafot.
The guest took slow steps and began reciting the verses for Hakafot. “Fight my battles, O Lord, Wage my Wars....” At the completion of the morning services, when all went home, they looked for the guest but he was not to be found. The next day, Sunday, it became known that there had been a plan to attack the Jews on that very same Shabbat. However, when the attackers came near the synagogue, they just turned away. Then it was very clear to the people that their guest was a very special guest sent to them from heaven. Perhaps he was one of the Forefathers?
Noam Arnon, a resident of Kiryat Arba and Hebron for 36 years, is a leader of the movement for the renewal of Jewish settlement in Hebron, City of the Patriarchs. After his discharge from the IDF following the Yom Kippur War, he joined the project to renovate the ancient Avraham Avinu Synagogue in Hebron.