Abe’s Stolen Legacy

Abe’s Stolen Legacy

A recent case was brought before the courts…and should be of interest to all of us.

The case concerns a man name Abe who purchased land, and on that land, built a home for his family. When  Abe died, the property was given to his children and they too lived in and/or near the house. This is how it went for several generations until, at some point, circumstances dictated that they had to leave. But the house remained in the family; there was always an intention to return, and money was sent to maintain the house. On a very regular basis, the house was visited and was very much considered a part of the family’s history and hopefully its future.

Unbeknownst to Abe’s great great whatever…grandchildren, at some point people moved into the house and took up residence. They even had the nerve to change the structure of the original home, adding on another area, fencing off one section, and more. Since the family did come to check on the house from time to time, it did become known but the family had limited resources and the ones who had moved in had what could be considered friends in “high places” and the family knew there was little they could change so long as they were forced to live some distance away. On at least one occasion, however, the family did attempt to gain entry but those who held the home kept them outside on the stairs leading up to the porch and were unswayed even to simply grant the family the simple decency of letting them inside to see Abe’s house!

Finally, the family came back strong enough to demand their rights. They purchased other homes nearby but they were physically assaulted several times. A compromise of sorts was worked out such that Abe’s family was finally able to use some part of the property but there were repeated violent attacks against them.

And even as Abe’s family lived nearby, the occupiers continued to do what they wanted to Abe’s home. Being law-abiding citizens, Abe’s family gathered their resources and took the new “residents” to court. They hired a lawyer and laid out their claims, their documentation, all the evidence they had saved. They brought with them the deed that Abe had signed when purchasing the land; they brought with them the testimony, written and oral, of what they had done with the land and the home they had kept in their family for generations. They brought pictures. It was so clear, their lawyer told them, only an idiot would deny their rightful claim to their family’s land and home.

It seems the case got more complicated in that the new people living in the house claimed they too had a distant relationship to the house’s first occupant, Abe. What was clear, however, was that Abe clearly willed the property to his son, and those people have no relationship to Ike, the son who inherited the house and lived there for many years, nor to Abe’s grandson, who inherited the house from his father. In fact, the occupiers have no relation to any of the others who lived in the house, only a distant claim to Abe, through an illegitimate son who was never recognized and grew up largely estranged from Abe. Given this claim, Abe’s descendants again turned to their lawyer and asked him if he thought there would be a problem. Only an idiot would ignore the facts, their lawyer told them again. Abe had a legal right to choose his heir. Only an idiot could ignore generations of history, documented evidence that Abe had chosen Ike and bestowed upon him and his children the property in question.

In court, Abe’s family’s lawyer showed that not only did Abe will the property to his clients, but that the other people had a long history of “acquiring” similar properties all over the place. In many cases, these people quickly built something over the original structures and often attempting to remove any vestiges of the original structure. They then went so far as to claim complete ownership and denied any previous owner existed at all. In one case, when the original owners came simply to check their property, the defendants set fire in an attempt to destroy the house, even though they claimed it was theirs and always had been. “Who destroys something they supposedly built with their own hands?” asked the lawyer. In a few places, they set fire to the gardens, destroyed valuable fields, and more. “Who burns the land they claim to love?” the lawyer repeated many times. The lawyer showed pictures of the fires, of the destruction.

When the ruling came in; the family was shocked. Not only had the court upheld the rights to the current occupants, it even denied that Abe had purchased the land, built the home, bequeathed it to Ike. They denied the family’s claim – more and perhaps worse – they denied the family’s history. If you are as outraged as I am, I hope you’ll help me protest this – for Abe, for Ike, and for the family.

I feel very strongly about this. You see…Abe was my great great great great…grandfather. The land he owned is precious to our family. One of the desecrated places belonged to Abe’s great grandson, a man named Joe. Abe and Ike and Joe – are all my ancestors and I am outraged at the injustice.

But let me help you a little. Perhaps you don’t recognize their names, you might know them by the more formal names that we use each day in prayer – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob who was Joseph’s father. Joseph – whose grave has been attacked and burned numerous times. Joseph’s grave, which the Arabs claim is the grave of Sheik Yussef. And Rachel’s grave. Rachel, who is Joseph’s mother. Her tomb has been attacked many times.

And Jacob? To this day, he lives in “Abe’s house”. I have visited “the house” many times, though most days when I go there, I’m only allowed to visit a small portion. The occupying family that “won” in court, holds the largest hall. It is named after Jacob’s father, Ike…I mean Isaac, and Jacob’s mother, Rebecca, is still there too.

The home is referred to as a cave because below the building that the occupiers built, is the cave the Abraham bought to bury his wife, Sarah. And when he died, he was buried beside her. There Isaac rests, beside Rebecca. There Jacob lies, beside Leah.

This is my home, my house, the final resting place of our Patriarchs and three of our Matriarchs. It is the Cave of the Patriarchs and UNESCO says that I have no claim to this land. Only an idiot…said the lawyer. Only an idiot would deny the rights of the Jewish people to the graves of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Of Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, Rachel. Of Binyamin, and Joseph. Of David and Shmuel.

And if this is not certifiably insane enough, UNESCO voted the Cave of the Patriarchs as an endangered heritage site – without pointing out that the danger comes from the occupiers – that would be the Palestinians; and that the heritage that is endangered, is ours. We are the descendants of those buried in that cave.

And while Muslims may have a claim to being the descendants of the disowned son of the exiled concubine, Hagar, Ishmael is not buried there. Isaac is.

Today, the greatest of all idiots, the greatest of all fools, think they can erase my history with a single vote.

They can’t, of course. The contract that Abraham signed to purchase the land exists in homes all over the world. It is right there, perhaps even in the homes of some of the UNESCO voters. It is in every Bible…in the very first book. Read Chapters 13 and 14 of the Book of Bereshit (Genesis). It contains what is perhaps the most published land deed in the history of mankind. Abraham bought the cave from the children of Heth…and we even know the price (documented in the Bible and further discussed here and here) – 400 shekels of silver. Offered by Abraham. The sons of Heth offered him the land for free to honor him. Abraham refused…perhaps because in some way he knew there would be a UNESCO, there would be those who questioned our right. No, Abraham insisted. Take the money so that all will know that I bought this land for my wife, for my children, for all eternity.

For all eternity, you morons.

Cave of the Patriarchs
Cave of the Patriarchs

Chapter 13: And HaShem said unto Abram… ‘Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward and southward and eastward and westward;  for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever.  And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth; so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for unto thee will I give it.’ And Abram moved his tent, and came and dwelt by the terebinths of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built there an altar unto HaShem….

Chapter 14: And the life of Sarah was a hundred and seven and twenty years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died in Kiriatharba–the same is Hebron–in the land of Canaan; and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her. And Abraham rose up from before his dead, and spoke unto the children of Heth, saying: ‘I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burying-place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.’ And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him: ‘Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us; in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.’ And Abraham rose up, and bowed down to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.

And he spoke with them, saying: ‘If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar,  that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for the full price let him give it to me in the midst of you for a possession of a burying-place.‘  Now Ephron was sitting in the midst of the children of Heth; and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the children of Heth, even of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying:  ‘Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee; bury thy dead.’ And Abraham bowed down before the people of the land.  And he spoke unto Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying: ‘But if thou wilt, I pray thee, hear me: I will give the price of the field; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there.’ And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him:  ‘My lord, hearken unto me: a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead.’ And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the hearing of the children of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant.  So the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the border thereof round about, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city. And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre–the same is Hebron–in the land of Canaan. And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a burying-place by the children of Heth.

Only an idiot would deny our connection to Hebron.

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