Shavua Tov everybody!
The X family spent last Shabbat outside of Jerusalem for a change. Mrs. X was tired of cooking and needed a change of scenery. We went to the community of Beit El, which is situated near Ramallah, just north of Jerusalem.
About 20 years ago, I used to learn in the Yeshiva in Beit El. Back then, the place was smaller and much less developed. Today there are thousands of people living in Beit El. Many of the places that were desolate in my time are now built up with houses and learning institutions.
It used to be very easy to get to Beit El. I used to drive my own automobile directly north from Jerusalem, pass through Ramallah/El Bireh and arrive at Beit El. The worst thing that could happen is that someone would throw a stone at the car as you passed by the Kalandia refugee camp. Stones can be deadly weapons, and people were injured and MVAs were caused by these stones. But this is nothing to compare to what can happen to Israelis if they enter Ramallah today, after we made "peace" with Arafat. The only Israeli civilians that enter Ramallah nowadays are journalists and "useful idiots" sympathetic to the Arab cause.
Getting to Beit El today isn't so simple. Instead of traveling due north, one has to bypass Ramallah by traveling through Pisgat Ze'ev. After the Hizmeh road block there is a special bypass road that passes by Sha'ar Binyamin, and Kochav Yaakov. After an hour on the road in a special bullet-proof Egged bus we finally made it to Beit El. In our Orwellian world bullet-proof buses + bypass roads = Nobel Peace Prize.
The people of Beit El are very gracious and excel in hospitality. We stayed at the apartment of a local family that had left Beit El for the Sabbath. They did not know us, yet they permitted us to stay at their apartment. They even prepared hot water for us so we could drink tea during the Sabbath. We spent the Shabbat meals with friends and we had a great time.
It turns out that there were a lot of guests in Beit El for Shabbat. The reason was that this week's Torah portion, VaYetze, mentions Beit El.
I could not help but feel the heavy shadow of the destruction of Gush Katif upon me during the Shabbat. Last summer we saw how the wicked Israeli government destroyed flourishing settlements in the Gaza Strip in return for nothing. The evil of the government is also reflected in the treatment of those who were expelled from their houses and farms. Many if not most of these people are still homeless and unemployed. As I gazed upon the beautiful community of Beit El I could not help but wonder if a similar fate awaits them. Please G-d, have mercy upon your land and people!