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The Day After: Hebron's Liberation

Rabbi Shlomo Goren (pictured) raising a makeshift Israeli flag during the Liberation of Hebron.

Jerusalem Day came and went, and Israeli flags are proudly waving across the country and around the world.

Of course, celebrating victories is part of the human experience. Through these celebrations, we recognize truly bombastic acts; we celebrate the triumphs brought despite enormous adversity. The victory that led to the reunification of Israel was one such story: a tiny Jewish nation beating the odds in true David vs. Goliath fashion.

But then, the Six Day War, extraordinary as it was, also featured another remarkable event; one that happened the day after the reunification of Jerusalem. And it is that event that we examine and pay homage to today.

The City of Hebron, the resting place of the Patriarchs

The Liberation of Hebron was an equally laudable feat for the young State of Israel, but for a reason diametrically opposed to the feat we got in Jerusalem. The reunification of Jerusalem was won with intense fighting; Israel faced the joint military might of its Arab neighbors. In the end, the State of Israel, through the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), decisively won against all odds.

Hebron's story, on the other hand, couldn't be more opposite. The city, our resting place of the Patriarchs and where King David first ruled, was expected to be heavily guarded by Jordanian forces, perhaps with the fierceness that they demonstrated in the battle of Bethlehem just days before. Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the IDF's first Head of the Military Rabbinate, was expecting resistance.

And yet, when the Rabbi arrived in the city with the first IDF contingents, he was welcomed by a sea of white flags signifying the then-enemy's surrender, without a single Jordanian flag in sight.

"When we drew closer to Hebron, I saw white flags waving over all the houses along the way.", the Rabbi recalls in his autobiography translated in line with the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Hebron in 2017. "I realized that there was no war here. There wasn’t a single Jordanian flag, so there was nothing to fear and no reason to be afraid – we were entering Hebron as victors, without a war and without having fired a single shot."

Our liberation of Hebron saw no bullet being fired. All we had to do was to triumphantly walk into the city. Our adversaries at the time have completely surrendered and we took possession of our second holiest site. Arguably, Hebron's liberation was just as impressive as the reunification of Jerusalem. But it happened without the bombastic military maneuvers that the latter saw. Instead, we got it back without the noise of weaponry but with the resounding support of our Great G-d.

So today, let us put our flags out again, with the same level of pride and honor, to celebrate the liberation of Hebron. Let the day after the great day be celebrated in equal, if not greater, regard.


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