In Their Own Words

MOSHE SEGAL

 

In the words of Zev Golan

 

Moshe Segal never wavered for a minute because he knew that he would never do anything that would contradict what his God wanted him to do.

 

His entire life was devoted to Jerusalem - to the Temple Mount - to the Western Wall - to the survival of the Jewish people - to the creation of the State of Israel - to the realization of true “Zionism.”

 

In 1929 Britain, who controlled the country, issued an edict that “Jews had their rights limited at the Wall (the Kotel).”

 

Moshe Segal led a rally on the 9th of Av, the anniversary of the destruction of the first and second Temple.  This young immigrant to Eretz Israel collected hundreds of people from all over the country and brought them to Jerusalem.  They left on a march from the center of town through the market places of the Old City to the Western Wall.  When they got to the Western Wall, they lifted Moshe Segal onto their shoulders and Segal sang “Hatikva.”

 

He gave a speech, and he said that the Jewish rights were going to return to the Wall, and that the Jewish country would be established one day.

 

That day Moshe Segal turned the Wall into a symbol of Jewish pride.

 

A year later Moshe Segal came back on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the Jewish year, and he saw that because the British made it illegal to blow the ram’s horn, the shofar, at the end of the fast, there was going to be nobody to blow the shofar and end the fast.

 

Moshe Segal took a shofar - he blew the shofar.

 

He was arrested by the British and taken to prison.

 

He turned the Wall at that time into a symbol of Jewish courage ... Jewish pride ... the willingness to fight for a Jewish state.

 

Moshe Segal started a tradition that continued every year by the Jewish youth in this country - somebody came to the Wall - remembered that Moshe Segal had blown the shofar and that person that year would blow the shofar as well.

 

This was taken up soon by the Jewish Underground Movements in this country ... the Irgun ... the Stern Group (LECHI) ... BETAR ... and just Jews who happened to be visiting.

 

They all said:

          We must continue the tradition.

          We will not let the British tell us who shall blow the shofar; whose Wall this is.

          We will not let the Arabs tell us that the shofar and the Jewish prayer disturbs them.

          We are the owners of this country.

          This is our Holy Site.

          And we will fight for it!

 

We have to remember that at that time Jews were not used to fighting for anything! 

This was before there was the State of Israel. 

 

This was before there was a Jewish Army.

 

This was before there was a movement in the Soviet Union that the Jews should be able to return to the Land of Israel ...

 

Nobody was fighting for Jewish rights (world wide).

 

These were the first people who did that!

 

Moshe Segal started a non-violent struggle to blow the shofar. 

 

This turned into the Jewish underground movements that fought and prayed.  They prayed ... not with prayer books ... they prayed with guns!

 

But they succeeded in creating a Jewish state.

 

Moshe Segal fought his whole life for a Jewish state.

 

He sat on the High Command of the Irgun.

 

He sat on the Command in Jerusalem of the Stern Group.

 

In 1948 he was put in charge of distribution of food in the city as it was under siege.

 

But after 1967 when the Wall was liberated - nobody called it the “Wailing Wall” anymore because the Jews stopped wailing ... now it was the “Western Wall” - the Western Wall of the Temple Mount where the Temple once stood and perhaps would stand one day ...

 

At this point Moshe Segal came here again on Yom Kippur, on the Day of Atonement, and he was the first person to blow the shofar when the day of fast ended.

 

In 1967 Moshe Segal was a signal of the continuation of the Jewish struggle and the commitment of the Jewish people to this Holy Site.

 

He discovered, 1,2,3,4, years later that now there was another problem: the Temple Mount above the Western Wall was now sealed to Jews.  The Arabs did not want the Jews to pray on the Temple Mount.  So every Day of Atonement as the end of the fast drew near, Moshe Segal would walk up the hill to the green door that leads to the Temple Mount -

 

and there he would pray -

 

and there he would say that he wants to blow the shofar ...

 

because he wants to enter the Temple Mount to blow the shofar.

 

But the government of Israel, afraid to offend the Arabs, would not let him enter the Temple Mount, and he was forced to blow the shofar outside the door to the Temple Mount.

Every year Moshe Segal did that at the end of Yom Kippur ...

until 1985 when at the end of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement ...

Moshe Segal died.

 

The Shofar and the Wall 

=======================

 

[The Holy Temple in Jerusalem was twice destroyed - first by the

Babylonians, and then by the Romans. But one wall remains standing,

a living symbol of the Jewish people's ownership over the land of

Israel and the city of Jerusalem: the Kotel HaMa'aravi, or Western

Wall.

 

What follows is an excerpt, translated from the Hebrew, from the

memoirs of Rabbi Moshe Segal (1904-1985), a Lubavitcher Chassid who

was active in the struggle to free the Holy Land from British rule.]

 

       *      *      *

 

In those years, the area in front of the Kotel did not look as it

does today. Only a narrow alley separated the Kotel and the Arab

houses on its other side. The British Government forbade us to place

an Ark, tables or benches in the alley; even a small stool could not

be brought to the Kotel.

 

The British also instituted the following ordinances, designed to

humble the Jews at the holiest place of their faith: it is forbidden

to pray out loud, lest one upset the Arab residents; it is forbidden

to read from the Torah (those praying at the Kotel had to go to one

of the synagogues in the Jewish quarter to conduct the Torah reading);

it is forbidden to sound the shofar on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The British Government placed policemen at the Kotel to enforce

these rules.

 

*'Give Me a Shofar!'*

 

On Yom Kippur of that year [1930], I was praying at the Kotel.

During the brief intermission between the musaf and minchah

prayers, I overheard people whispering to each other: "Where will

we go to hear the shofar? It'll be impossible to blow here. There

are as many policemen as people praying..." The Police Commander

himself was there, to make sure that the Jews will not, G-d forbid,

sound the single blast that closes the fast.

 

I listened to these whisperings, and thought to myself: Can we

possibly forgo the sounding of the shofar that accompanies our

proclamation of the sovereignty of G-d? Can we possibly forgo the

sounding of the shofar, which symbolizes the redemption of Israel?

True, the sounding of the shofar at the close of Yom Kippur is only

a custom, but 'A Jewish custom is Torah'! I approached Rabbi

Yitzchak Horenstein, who served as the Rabbi of our 'congregation',

and said to him: "Give me a shofar."

 

"What for?"

 

"I'll blow."

 

"What are you talking about? Don't you see the police?"

 

"I'll blow."

 

The Rabbi abruptly turned away from me, but not before he cast a

glance at the prayer stand at the left end of the alley. I

understood: the shofar is in the stand. When the hour of the

blowing approached, I walked over to the stand and leaned against

it.

 

I opened the drawer and slipped the shofar into my shirt. I had the

shofar, but what if they saw me before I had a chance to blow it? I

was still unmarried at the time, and following the Ashkenazic

custom, did not wear a tallit. I turned to person praying at my

side, and asked him for his tallit. My request must have seemed

strange to him, but the Jews are a kind people, especially at the

holiest moments of the holiest day, and he handed me his tallit

without a word.

 

I wrapped myself in the tallit. At that moment, I felt that I had

created my own private domain. All around me, a foreign government

prevails, ruling over the people of Israel even on their holiest

day and at their holiest place, and we are not free to serve our

God; but under this tallit is another domain. Here I am under no

dominion save that of my Father in Heaven; here I shall do as He

commands me, and no force on earth will stop me.

 

When the closing verses of the "Ne'illah" prayer - 'Hear O Israel,'

'Blessed be the name' and 'The L-rd is G-d' - were proclaimed, I

took the shofar and blew a long, resounding blast. Everything

happened very quickly. Many hands grabbed me. I removed the tallit

from over my head, and before me stood the Police Commander, who

ordered my arrest.

 

*Arrest and Release*

 

I was taken to the "kishleh", the prison in the Old City, and an

Arab policeman was appointed to watch over me. Many hours passed; I

was given no food or water to break my fast. At midnight, the

policeman received an order to release me, and he let me out

without a word.

 

As I exited the gate, I met a group of young men from Yeshivat Mercaz

HaRav, the Jerusalem yeshiva founded by Rav Kook. 'My friends!' I

called out. 'What are you doing here at midnight?'

 

They told me that immediately after I blew the shofar, some Mercaz

HaRav students who were present hurried off to tell the chief

rabbi, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, what had happened to me. He was

happy to hear that someone sounded the shofar at the Kotel, but

saddened to hear that I was arrested.

 

All this happened before Rav Kook broke his fast. He did not begin to

eat until he called the secretary of High Commissioner of Palestine,

and demanded my immediate release. When his request was refused, the

chief rabbi stated that he would not break his fast until I was freed.

The High Commissioner resisted for many hours, but finally, out of

respect for the Rabbi, he had no choice but to set me free.

 

For the next eighteen years, until the Arab conquest of the Old

City in 1948, the shofar was sounded at the Kotel every Yom Kippur.

The British well understood the significance of this blast; they

knew that it will ultimately demolish their reign over our land as

the walls of Jericho crumbled before the shofar of Joshua, and they

did everything in their power to prevent it. But every Yom Kippur,

the shofar was sounded by men who know they would be arrested for

their part in staking our claim on the holiest of our possessions.

 

*Postscript*

 

Rabbi Moshe Segal was one of the first Jews to move into the Old

City of Jerusalem after its liberation in 1967. At the end of Yom

Kippur that year, Rabbi Segal once again blew the shofar at the

Kotel - this time without fear of arrest by British policemen.

 

"Copyright and reprinted with permission of Chabad.org, your one stop for Torah, Judaism and Jewish information on the Web"

 

[from the Hebrew by Yanki Tauber, posted on

<a href="http://www.chabad.org/library/article.asp?print=true&aid=2246&iid=">

www.chabad.org</a>,

with some additions from "An Angel Among Men", pp. 220-221]

 

 

MOSHE SEGAL

 

What is Judaism Without the Temple Mount?

www.saveisrael.com

 

Rebuilding the Temple and the Stages of Jewish History

www.saveisrael.com

 

The Shofar and the Wall

www.saveisrael.com

 

The Land, the People, and the Torah

www.saveisrael.com

 

An Open Letter

www.saveisrael.com

 

Letter to David Ben Shimol

www.saveisrael.com

 

Brief Biography

www.saveisrael.com

 

 


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