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Abba Ahimeir


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Abba Ahimeir was the leader of the pre-state militant group that was known the
Brit HaBirionim. This 1932 essay is as valuable -- and true -- today as it was then." As it is written in Tanach, "...there is nothing new under the sun...."

The Great Shofar Blast
by Abba Ahimeir

Everyone, everyone has abandoned the Western Wall.

Everyone, from the Viennese socialists to the Belzer Hasidim. The "Prophet of Rehovot" (Chaim Weizmann) is most surly right, from his point of view, in saying: "The wall is not worth one acre of plantation-land." The member of kibbutz Degania Aleph is also right: "The Wall brings in less than one of Joseph Baratz’s fundraising tours." And the member of Atarot is right: "The Wall is worth less than one good cow." In their hearts, all of them curse the Wall: "All these troubles for this heap of stones." And as for the allegedly religious Jew -- his pathos is wasted on waging "war" against the playing of soccer games on the Sabbath or against a restaurant which may or may not be open on our day of rest. Such "religious fervor" is no more than the soul-less, mechanical obeisance to commandments written in a book by one of the late early sages, and it testifies to the inability and lack of desire to wage a real war for the nation’s true treasures....

Can one imagine a healthy nation apathetically selling its Holy of Holies? Can we imagine the Poles, for instance, giving up their sacred church in Cestochowa?.... What cold, cynical blasphemy sleeps in the souls of our officially "religious" Jews?

Atrophied ... This kind of Judaism passed judgement on itself by its treatment of the Wall. And they complain the youth, which turns its back on them! Why should youth follow them? To witness arguments over who’s to be called up for the reading of the Torah and "maftir?"

Everyone has abandoned the Wall, everyone has sold her - for nothing.


Yes, excepting a handful of Israeli youth who did not participate in the sale. Shlomo Newman is one of these youth. He, Shlomo, sounded the shofar at the Wall after the Yom Kippur prayers of 1932 - against the wishes of the Mufti, of (Lord) Plummer II, of Claim II (Arlosoroff), of the Bund in Eretz Israel, of the Va'ad Leumi (Jewish Agency) and of others. Foreign Ministers and lawyers ... are not yet the final arbiters of our holiest national shrine. Nor can the arbiter be a Jewish lawyer whose religious life is centered around -- business.... The arbiters in such matters are the Segels and Newmans. The ancient Birionim felled the golden Roman eagle which hung on the Temple’s Wall, for which the Edomite King Burned them at the stake. But the great grandchildren of those Birionim are now going joyfully to prison, they are ready to go hungry to defend the honor of Israel, honor which has been dragged through the dirt....

Let us admit unabashedly: Public opinion may not be with us. Jews in general and in Eretz Israel in particular are afraid ... but for us -- the Wall is everything! For us -- the stones which comprise the Wall encompass the entire Land of Israel.... For us, the land of Israel is not crop-land, not Dead Sea potash, not geographical proximity to Suez. She is first and foremost - the Land of the Wall. We come to the Land and the Wall before we knew about the possibility of growing this or that crop on it. Today, a view centered around material wealth which finds its physical expression in this stone Wall.

Our arms still fall short. The Wall will be ours when the Kingdom of Israel rises. For now, the shofar blasts of the Segels and Newmans are crucial demonstrative reminders, displays which remind us of our duty and our destiny, even now.... During these days of blind dances around apple trees, these days when material interests are given precedence over spiritual ones, we remember the demonstration of the Ninth of Av 1929....

There was once a time when the shofar of the legions of Israel felled the walls of Jericho. During the Exile the shofar - the symbol of a Fighting Israel - became a purely religious vessel. The shofar which had been used to gather the armies of Israel - this shofar passed to the trembling hands of the Diasporean shofar-blower. But behold, the shofar is returning and passing to the hands of the Segels and the Newmans. Their blast is ... the blast of Birionim.

(Hazit Ha'am , Nov. 11, 1932. Reprinted in Revolutionary Zionism, Tel Aviv 1966)