My Visit to the Most Beautiful Place in Israel

My Visit to the Most Beautiful Place in Israel

We spent the first day of Succot, Friday, and then Shabbat with our old friends who live in Maaleh Michmas, a settlement about half an hour north of Jerusalem. I think this settlement just might be located in THE most beautiful part of Israel.

On Shabbat I played hookey from shul and walked over to Mitspe Dani (next to Michmas) instead. I just stood there transfixed by the view of the stony Binyamin hills followed by the primordial caramel smooth waves of the Judean Desert, followed by the sapphire Dead Sea, followed by the heavenly Jordanian hills of Moav. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so beautiful in my life.

I just stood there and stared, and wondered what it must be like to live your life with that view in the background (here’s an amazing photo I found of children growing up in Mitspe Dani and here’s another great one).

Here’s some more breathtaking photos of the views I saw from the settlement and also during our Friday hike near Michmas…

These views made me think about how great God is. He has existed forever, and in comparison with His eternal-ness all the crises I’ve been obsessing over in recent weeks felt suddenly so small and fleeting….

It also gave me a ton of chizuk when I remembered that the residents of Michmas have experienced more than their fair share of suffering and loss over the years on account of their Arab neighbors (Mitzpe Dani is named after Dani Frei, an idealistic young British oleh and father who was inhumanly murdered by a Palestinian who broke into his home).

But after all these Michmas-ers have been through, they are careful AND also so strong. They are surrounded by a barbed-wire fence and carry guns and recite Tefilat Haderech with extra kavana. And they also go on living. They work and raise their families and remain proud and devout Jews living in this corner of Eretz Yisrael that they have chosen to call home.

And I thought this is a good model for us Nachlaoters nowadays…Like these settlers coping with the dangers that face them, we too need to be vigilant and careful. And we also need to remain strong and determined to serve Hashem and raise our families and do good despite the darkness that currently fills this corner of Eretz Yisrael that we have chosen to call home. Undeterred, IY”H.

Photo by Esther Rosenblum


  1. I agree, Maale Michmas has a breathtaking view and amazing people. In my own home in Gush Etzion, and I’m sure in yours in Yerushalayim, the emphasis is on living in Hashem’s land and building a community. The word settlement connotes the opposite of permanence and has political overtones, as opposed to the word community, which is what we are building.

    • debi, I hear what you’re saying. Though I do feel that the word settler, with it’s issues, evokes the heroism and mesirut nefesh of these idealistic Jews living in these relatively dangerous areas of Eretz Yisrael.

  2. Forgot to say that your pictures and eloquent description of this part of Eretz Yisrael were a real kiddush Hashem, and a tikkun for the bad-mouthing done by the meraglim. I’m just sensitive to the word settler for the reasons I wrote above, and because I think it puts distance between people who live in other places and those who live in Yehuda v’Shomron.

    • From my street in Neve Yaakov we have a view of the same area that you describe, though we don’t quite see the Dead Sea. Your descripton beautifully captures the essence of the scene.
      It always amazes me how we can see lights at night on the Jordanian hilltops, and I wonder if they see Yerushalayim.

      Debi, I very much like your comment on not using the word “settler”. We are very proud of the settlers, but you are right that it perhaps puts a distance between people.

  3. rachael masri

    i wish i could have met you while you were here! i would have loved to invite you to our sukka!!

    • rachael, I thought of you when I was there, and was keeping my eyes open for you…Maybe next time??

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