THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY AN OHR CHADASH STUDENT WHO DESCRIBES HIS VISIT TO THE GRAVE OF YESHOSHUA BIN NUN
A friend of mine, who has been trying to go with me to kever Yosef for several months now, forwarded me a text that there would be an upcoming night with accessibility to the kevarim of Yehoshua bin Nun and Calev ben Yefuneh. The Kevarim are located in an Arab village that is Area ‘B’ according to the Oslo Accords named Kifl Harrith that is just next to Ariel Junction. What is more interesting is that the location of these kevarim is recorded in Tanach in the locality of Timnat Serach. In other places in our texts it’s called Timnat Haris (where the letters of serach are reversed). We also know that the Arabs for whatever reason have had a history of preserving our village names long after we were gone (the ancient Bnei Brak is another such example). As such, its location matches up, not to mention, secular records going way back also attest to this location being the graves of these two great individuals, who are among the very few that survived the 40 years in the midbar and came into Eretz Yisrael. They learned from the mouth of Moshe Rabbeinu himself.
I arrived there a little early by car and waited around for the entry ok to be given. I stood around and chatted with a few individuals and prepared myself for the davening, though no amount of preparation would have been sufficient for what I was about to experience.
A few minutes after 23:00, the bullet-proof busses rolled up to take us in. When we got off it was quiet as we were let off in some sort of a business area within the village and there were little colored lights strung overhead. I’m not sure if the lights were put in for our visit or part of the regular décor of the village. From there it was about a five to ten minute walk up a hill to the kever of Calev. I entered, took out my tehillim/tefillah sefer, and my list of names to daven for, and placed them down on an empty spot in front of me. And then I laid down on the kever for about a minute in reverence and stood back up. I laid down again and then stood up a second time.
I started to read the first name on my list and that’s when I broke down like a little baby crying. I started crying uncontrollably. I wasn’t alone, those all around me were also crying and davening. It was at that point that I realized, everything we do like this, all davening by kevarim, is all a result of Calev and his decision to stop along the way to daven at the graves of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs before spying out the land. It’s what saved him from giving false testimony like his ten colleagues. I davened slow and long and in many ways it was the most powerful experience I’ve ever had by a kever. Groups of people came and went while I was davening but I was unperturbed to shorten or change my davening.
Towards the end of the davening I started singing a couple tehillim aloud using niggunim. It was a very special moment, especially since the acoustics inside the structure were very amicable to the singing. My only regret was that I didn’t record any of it. When I left, I realized that these structures were located mamash in an ancient cemetery. Then at the end, I recalled I wanted to record singing a niggun out loud, partly because I wanted to record it to share with my good friend and teacher, Rabbi Trugman. As such, I chose one of his niggunim and started singing it to a chapter of tehillim. Just then the whole room randomly broke out in to a recitation of “shir lama’alot”, I was thus forced to stop and join the others, but my recording got all this, it was amazing! I finished up and then I left.
When I got to the car, and I realized that something had fallen from my pocket. I spent about twenty minutes looking for it when people in the next car over show up. I asked them if they had a flashlight to help me look and they ask what I’m looking for. B”H they had found exactly what had fallen. I wasn’t looking enough in the right spot because I’d thought it’d fallen elsewhere!
When I returned to my car and was about to leave two people show up at my window asking to hitch a ride and sure enough they wanted to return to Bnei Brak. As we were about to leave, two more people joined in; so in the end it was hashgacha pratit that I lost this item.
All in all it was a very pleasant and moving experience and I look forward to going back again in the future.