Sunday, December 23, 2007

Negev Tour 1: Off to Tel Lachish

'Twas the fifth night of Hanukkah, and all through the yeshiva, not a bochur was stirring, not even a... Danni with a megaphone to drag everyone from their beds at 4 AM.

You see, when one wakes up in the morning, it isn't permissible to do anything like, say, eat breakfast or go for long bus ride, before davening Shacharit (morning prayers.) If you want to get an early start, the solution is to wake up before the crack of dawn, which is still technically the night before.

Introducing the cast of characters....

Daniel W. The sleeping bag says it all.
Michael H. Too early for pictures.

Yours truly. I don't sleep on buses. And I don't daven well with 4 hours' sleep. Yes, the tefillin is a bit crooked.

Seth, after breakfast, loading up on a couple of extra breakfasts for the road.

Ephraim F., all smiles and sunshine.

And, of course, there were a bunch more guys, too. After stopping in a small village of re-settled refugees from the former Gaza settlements for Shacharit , we continued south and reached Tel Lachish.

The sign doesn't mention, but being this far south, Lachish was one of the last settlements destroyed by the Romans in their attempt at ethnically cleansing the Holy Land of Jews and at last eradicating the Jewish people from the Earth.

Of course, look who'se flag flies over Lachish now, heh heh heh....

After emptying from our four-bus caravan, we were herded down to the vineyards in the shadow of the tel. I actually came here once before, but that was with a bunch of German students when I was at Ben Gurion University, so I didn't understand anything on that tour. My Hebrew isn't perfect, but it's better than my German, so I thought maybe I'd get the full tour this time.
But in the vineyard, the tourguide began regaling us with tales of his family's aliyah;. The stories went on. And on. And on and on and on and on.
Meanwhile, I wandered through the vineyards to play with the macro mode on my camera.
With the stories still going on, some of the guys went back to sleep.

And then, we were instructed to get back into the bus. What? WHAT!??? We had just arrived at one of the best preserved archaeological sites in Israel, a place which appears again and again in the Tanach, and we were going to leave after just sitting there and listening to stories for an hour? No way!

While everyone else loaded onto the bus, Daniel and I sprinted to the top of the tel.

Made it!

Looking East, we saw a fantastic view of the foothills of the Hebron mountains.
The tel was covered with ruins. Wish we had made it up here to get an actual explanation of what we were looking at. Maybe next time.

Looking back at the tower, at the gates of the city.

And so, we were off to our next destination, a canyon near Sde Boqer. Stay tuned!

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