The Story of Gush Etzion

A vital reminder to live with purpose.

Comments (31)

(26) Ja'akov Markus, July 12, 2011 11:00 AM

Religious ecological yishuv Negev Israel

My dream/purpose/mission in life is to create a religious ecological yishuv in the Negev. A place where Torah, ecology, study, theory and practice in daily life meet. Where people live/work with respect for each other and for the environment. can participate with their programme 'Aish HaTorah's Eco-Fellowships' but who wants to join me as an inhabitant/worker/participant? By the way there is a possible spot (a half deserted kibbutz) available for this yishuv.

(25) Erika Maximo, July 1, 2011 1:29 AM


Thanks for sharing this video.The sound of the birds, the green landscape, The Holy Land and a story of having an aim and a target and never give up.Thanks for the lesson!

(24) elisheva miriam, June 30, 2011 3:08 AM


OK ... from one who, herself, got completely turned on to Judaism I can speak from my own experience.... READ THE BOOK .. the WHOLE BOOK .... MANY TIMES... ArtScroll JUST published the TaNaCh in English ... THIS IS OUR BOOK.. THESE ARE OUR PROPHETS... THIS IS OUR STORY ... THIS IS WHO WE ARE ! let's get back to basics... JUST a thought... ;) Shabbat Shalom

cvmay, June 30, 2011 4:57 PM

Read the Nach

Great idea n glad it inspired you to grow in Yiddishkeit. Navi is not learned in most yeshivos and pitters out after high school for girls.

(23) Dvirah, June 29, 2011 5:46 PM

Please Consider Your Words

Rabbi Salomon, please do not use the term "settlement." It has such negative conotations today and attacks the legitamacy of the people who live there. Be specific; the place is a village, a Kibbutz, a town or city - not a "settlement."

cvmay, July 1, 2011 10:45 PM

right you are

There are NO SETTLEMENTS in israel rather cities, villiages, kibbutzim, moshavim and small communities inhabited by holy Jes.

(22) cvmay, June 29, 2011 3:47 PM

Teach our youth Jewish History

After viewing this video, I had two profound feelings. Firstly, the history of Gush Etzion of 1948, Chevron Massacre of 1929, Safed pogroms of early 1900's, establisment of neighborhoods of Meah Shearim and Sharei Chesed in early 1900's, the trips made by Rav Sonnefeld and Rav Kook to settlers of the Galile, Rav Aryeh Levin's loving relationship with Irgun soldiers, construction and subsequent destruction of Gush katif, etc......all early and present history of the State of Israel is a BLANK SLATE for our youth and the majority of Torah observing Jews. Why? Why? Do our seminary/yeshiva students NOT get introduced to the many unbelievable facets pertaining to the establishment of the country that they are learning in? Are they taken to visit Rav Grossman of Migdal haEmek who opened his yeshiva campus for the benefit of 700 soldiers on their way to Lebanon? After the massacre at Mercaz harav did we encourage our young men to visit the mourners and connect to the sorrows of the residents of the land? Hear their stories.... and learn. We are still in fear of secular zionism (which died with the rotary phone) and therefore purposely ignore the tales of heros, those who exhibited meisurus nefesh and purpose for living. Secondly, perhaps the times are changing. Now Project Inspire, Aish Missions, Lori's trips to Israel, OU learning tours & others, finally have the self-confidence to relate events, stories and tales of great individuals who dedicated their lives to klal yisroel and its destiny. (Even if these men, women and children did not spend their days in a Beis Medresh, Bais Yakov or Charedei environment). Readers: Please go and tell others to visit Gush Etzion and its magnificent museum, IMAX production and learn about the glory of heroic Torah Jews.

(21) Andy, June 29, 2011 2:49 PM

sadly most people's goal is comfort which is a pity for humans

Life is painful without much purpose for so many so the response is often to try and eliminate the pain. If taught that pain for a purpose such as a woman in labor then it'll be well worth it. Seems to me that the important thing is to make a decision as to what is a worthwhile purpose. An example is for some their purpose is to free Palestine for others it's to preserve a Jewish State.I suspect the same person with different life experiences would likely embrace either side so before choosing get a good teacher you trust and weigh the options. If that's too much then live for the Yankees but know you'll have to explain in the next world why you deserved to be born in this world as a human instead of a cat.

(20) AZah, June 28, 2011 10:15 PM


just the very idea of living a life of purpose gives some hope. what if you have a purpose but are scared to go for it?

(19) Gavriel, June 28, 2011 3:59 PM

more of the history

Its likely that many readers will not know anything about Gush Etzion - for example it was not mentioned that the defenders sent their wives and children to Jerusalem for safety while they defended the area and were killed ... and they many years later the children returned this time to stay. The history would be useful to motivate the question that follows.

(18) avraham m, June 28, 2011 3:53 PM

HaShems way

The one thing I try to do is to walk my talk and do it in a way pleaseing to HaShem.. I'm not perfect, yet we all need to be a living,breathing, talking, and walking testamony to G-ds love and grace when we seek Him!!

(17) Anonymous, June 28, 2011 3:25 PM


I love this! Yes, we are comfort-seeking beings; that seems to be the nature of things. I hope my answer to this situation doesn't sound as though I don't really understand the problem or haven't really thought about it: I believe that God loves us and hears our prayers, and never turns a deaf ear on our sincere, heart-felt prayers. I've entered what is probably my last decade of life, and over the years have learned how greatly he cares about us and how carefully he has answered our prayers. I believe that if each set of parents will pray to know how to lead their children in this important quest, the answer will be given, probably not in precisely the same way to each family. But in his own due time, the answers will come. Then it's up to us to act upon his prompting.

(16) esther, June 28, 2011 2:56 PM

This is the HEART of the matter!!

Yishar Koach! in my opinion - this was your most important video blog yet!! I was waiting for something like this, it is the HEART of the matter!! I lived for 23 in Gush Katif, and besides for the tragedy of the expulsion, I felt afterwards that my life was empty of purpose, and that we could not continue like this. B"H we are settling again, and it certainly gives meaning to our lives. (besides the education that it gives our children - to do and not just talk.) Thank you!

(15) Chayah, June 28, 2011 1:46 PM


How DO we fill our lives with meaning?? Every time we think negatively, turn it around and think positively. Every time we feel sad, try and make another person happy...Every time we want something we cannot have, give a little something to another person or to a worthy cause,,,every time we feel tired and sick, do something kind for a person that's suffering more than you . That's the way to find meaning in life...and a good sense of humor coudn't hurt either! My son, his Sabra wife and 3 kids live in Gush Etzion...they've been there for 17 years and love it! I saw the film presentation there a few years ago and I think I saw "The TREE" behind you while you were speaking to us! Am Yisrael Chai!

(14) rachel kapen, June 28, 2011 12:44 PM

I knew the story of Kfar Etzion first-hand.

After Gush Etzion fell to the Jordanians, a group of mother and children from Kfar Etzion were settled in Givat Aliyah near Bat Yam where I lived. There was only one intact family where there was a father, the Knoll family and their daughter Ora was in my class at the Takhkemony Mamlakhtyi Dati school in Bat Yam. Ora's father was in the Jordanian captivity but was released after the war and he wrote a book telling the tragic yet courageous story of Gush Etzion. Unfortunately I lost touch with Ora during the years but remember her as a wonderful, very smart girl who helped me with math. I also had the chance to visit their Givat Aliyah temorary place to meet her wonderful mother.

(13) michael schuman, June 28, 2011 10:47 AM

so where's the story?

I just visited Gush Etzion in May. It was a tragic but heroic story. Please elaborate on the actual events not just the rabbi's motivation.

(12) Kibbitzer, June 28, 2011 9:53 AM

Purpose in life

Of course it's possible to have purpose and a rich and fulfilling in life in the galut and yet there's something missing even if you don't realise it. Until we made aliyah, albeit later in life, we didn't know how much was missing. Here national life revolves around Shabbat and the chagim, we are part of the mainstream and not outsiders, however well integrated. Life is not a dress rehearsal, you have one shot, make it count!

(11) Jack Leder, June 28, 2011 9:23 AM

The duty of Bubbas and Zaidas

Post-Holocaust, there were so many kids growing up without Bubbas and Zaidas. As that generation enters retirement years, they now have the opportunity ,no, the responsibility to teach their grandchildren , Jewish values, including the ability to defend and a love for Israel, our Jewish State.

(10) Bayla, June 28, 2011 9:08 AM

Make Aliya!!!

Move to Gush Etzion, and walk the talk!

(9) Menucha W., June 28, 2011 8:10 AM

comfort zone

I think the answer to your question is in your explanation Rabbi Salomon. We need to learn to go out of our comfort zone, to visit places and people who already know their purpose in life and the meaning that drives them on daily basis, and be inspired by that energy and clarity. the realization of how much we are missing out on real life by staying in our comfort zone will provide the motivation each person needs to take a step towards a level of happiness that only exist when we do what is right.

(8) ana, June 27, 2011 1:19 PM

teach and learn

children must be brought up with a sense of purpose. most don't know they're here for a reason, whether they are observant jews or not. the observant follow rules, the non observant don't, but it doesn't matter in this area, because most kids--following constant laws or not--are interested in themselves, their electronics, their own stuff. even the religious children don't understand the higher purpose of the laws, so they are not even getting purpose from that, though it might seep in after many years. also, almost every child is in school-they are taught to recite back what they learned and they are taught that math, science,and memorizing jewish subjects are important, that getting good grades is important, that not aggravating the teacher to the point of getting more work is important. there's usually not much more than that. recess is important because they can get away from all of that for a few minutes. so most kids think their purpose is their iPods, toys, and getting their homework done with. children are not raised to have a sense of purpose, a sense of wonder, and sense of responsibility. they are raised to take from others and to do for others, to be what others want from them--whether they're able to do that or not. how wonderful it would be if parents and teachers would raise the next generation to really understand how wonderful they are, how much bigger the world is, how much bigger they themselves are then they would have ever previously been told. do the schools teach this? no. they're busy keeping everyone in line, thinking the same, reciting back the same things, keeping them out of trouble. do parents teach this? no, they're busy getting them to behave and make a good impression. some kids are kind of taught to have purpose, if they do something wrong they're yelled at about others who do more or others who struggled more and succeeded. or if the kid wants more stuff, they're yelled at about helping others-but most aren't raised with purpose.

Anonymous, June 28, 2011 12:27 PM

Speaking or rules . . .

please use proper punctuation and capital letters. It will make your post readable.

malka, June 29, 2011 2:38 AM

I agree with you Anna.

(7) lisa, June 27, 2011 12:57 PM

We all need a jump start.....

Yes we are mostly on cruise in & day out. We need to add some enthusiasm into our lives. And not get bent out of shape, for example, if the cleaning lady happens not to show up one day. We have to be bigger than that!! But more importantly we have to be an example for our children.....we complain, they complain. Lets always try to see the silver lining in any situation....that may add some (higher) meaning into our daily lives.

(6) Anonymous, June 27, 2011 8:30 AM

Finding Purpose The land is very, very good. Make aliya & fulfill your purpose as Jews. Hashem said so.

(5) Gary, June 27, 2011 2:00 AM

Simple - Make Aliyah

For many - not so simple - but we need to take steps - have a plan to get your children there and then follow them - B"H to be with your grandchildren in the land that HaShem gave us... we should not reject his gift..

(4) ruth white, June 26, 2011 10:07 PM


time is to think of the loved ones in out life , and especally to think of God and pray. if you have x-tra time dont spend it in foolishness, but spend it on good goals and pourposes that count in your life and the world to come.

(3) Beverly Kurtin, June 26, 2011 8:31 PM

My purpose in life: Defending us and Israel

Oy, listening to those birds and seeing all that wonderful greenery makes me want to have you just point a camera at the trees and run it for an hour. That was relaxing and thought provoking at the same time. Being retired was driving me up a wall. There are no weekends off, any holidays, vacations…just vegetating until I realized my purpose for still being alive: To counter the hate that is aimed at Judaism and Israel. I write letters and emails to counter the lies of the Arabs and other Jew-haters. I send copies of the Hamas charter to others, highlighting how many times we are the targets of Hamas. I have a powerful converter that can take a Word document and quickly turn it into a PFD file. I use the Internet to reply to people who have made negative remarks about us or Israel; in short, I am a mouthpiece for us and Israel. Although I am disabled and unable to even think about working, I can fight the good fight from my computer in my home. People think I’ve gone off the deep end, but I haven’t. I have a burning on the inside that despite the fact that I am “tilting against windmills,” I feel I have to try to open dialogs in order to change someone’s mind. But, there is one thing that I know as well as I know anything: The only person you can change is yourself. I also know that there are people who think “don’t try to give me the facts, my mind is made up.” Nu? You can’t change everyone’s mind. I have to live with that fact, and I can. The Internet is the single most powerful thing in world history, apart from Hashem, that is. As long as I keep my mind wrapped around the knowledge that He is in charge of this crazy little planet we all have to live on, I have nothing to worry about. Shalom, y’all.

(2) TMay, June 26, 2011 6:27 PM

alone time

I think alone time is very important, when we are not frenetic which is so easy to become in our society. I see teenagers wired. I see young women who have to have their bevy of female friends. I see mothers with their children where the mother is physically with her child but is occupied on her cellphone. I see families together where everyone is checking their email on their phones or their Blackberries. I see people rushing around being busy. It doesn't look good to me. I treasure my alone time. That is when thoughts and impressions can bubble up to the surface. .

(1) Anonymous, June 26, 2011 5:58 PM

Wow, beautiful background. Refreshingly different too! Living with meaning and purpose is living to give to others. I think the story of what these idealists did is also about what they gave. It's a reminder that we are here to love others as ourselves and bestow!

ss, July 4, 2011 12:55 PM

Heal the World

Purpose= Tikkun Olam


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