Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Mordechai & Esther Buried in Eretz Israel?

Beyond Teshuva has an interesting posting about the burial place of Mordechai and Esther in Hamadan, Iran (also known as Shushan HaBira).

However, seeing a picture in the 2006 Tapestry of Wisdom Jewish Engagement Calendar of the kever of Mordechai and Esther in Israel arouse my curiosity. Once I started looking into this, I noticed that Dei'ah veDibur had an interesting article on the history of this site in Israel. The article entitled, "Who is Buried in Queen Esther's Tomb?" states:

"While various monuments in Persia have been cited as their burial place, a strong alternate tradition indicates that even though both Esther and Mordechai died in the Persian capital city of Shushan, they were brought to Eretz Israel for burial. Written tradition from the Middle Ages locates the burial place in the Galilean village of Bar'am, along Israel's northern border with Lebanon."

Apparently, this written tradition began with the account of HaRav Shmuel ben Shimshon who visited the site Bar'am in 1211. In 1537, the sefer Yichus Ho'ovos Vehanivi'im recorded, that "every Shushan Purim a minyan goes to her grave [in Bar'am] from Tsefas and reads the Megillah there."

The article later notes that knowledge of the exact location of the kevarim was lost over the centuries. The site identified today as the kevarim of Mordechai and Esther is located "more than a kilometer southwest of the ruins of ancient Bar'am". How it was decided that this spot was the actual location is not discussed.

Perhaps someone with information on this site could provide the details....

Picture of Bar'am from Tzaddik Publishing's
2006 Tapestry of Wisdom Jewish Engagement Calendar
Photo: Alan Mandel

Map from "HaM'komos HaKedoshim"
showing the location of the kevarim in Bar'am.

Provided by my friend, Yitz of Heichal HaNegina


At March 7, 2006 at 7:00:00 AM EST, Blogger yitz said...

Very interesting indeed! I never knew this, so thanks for informing me. It is said that the Arizal revealed many of the Kevarim from the times of the Mishna, perhaps this one too!

We received a gift of a sefer called, "HaM'komos HaKedoshim," [published 2 years ago in Yerushalayim] which is close to 700 pages long, in Hebrew. On page 363 it says about the Tzion of Esther HaMalka:

"In the village of Bar'am, there are opinions that the Tzion of Esther HaMalka is located. Her burial place was already designated some 850 years ago, by the travelers, R. Shmuel b. Shimshon, and R. Menachem b. Peretz HaChevroni, and also brought in the sefer 'Yichus Avos.'
It is also brought that they read the Megilla there on Shushan Purim. They noted only Esther's grave, but today, Mordechai's is also marked, but this has no source. On the other hand, there is a tradition which points to her Tzion in Persia."

ASJ, bli neder I'll scan the map of Bar'am & e-mail it to you, if you like, you can post it!

About the cave in Peki'in -- see my next comment!

At March 7, 2006 at 7:03:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Yitz, my friend, thank you very much for taking the time to send that description from HaM'komos HaKedoshim and scanning the map.

I have seen that sefer in the bookstore. Would you recommend it? I noticed there were lots of pictures :)

I will look forward to the information on the cave in Peki'in!

At March 7, 2006 at 7:13:00 AM EST, Blogger yitz said...


Page 515 of the above-mentioned sefer [my partial paraphrase, not a word-for-word translation]:
The location was noted in the sefer "Ahavas Tzion" in the year 5525 [1765], also in the ma'amar "Rananu Tzaddikim."
...Regarding the location the anonymous traveler already wrote about it in 5282 [1522], but he mentions that 'unfortunately, the carob tree is not there.' However, later writings mention a letter of R. Yosef HaSofer from 5522 [1762], which mentions the cave AND the carob tree. The Ohr HaChaim visited this place and writes that he learned there for 2 months, Sivan and Tamuz...

The sefer goes on to say, that there's an amazing thing: right next to the cave there's a carob tree which is ancient, and amazingly large. The Arabs of the area have a tradition from generation to generation NOT to use the branches which fall from this tree, for they are holy.

Furthermore, while the fruit of most carob trees is seasonal, THIS tree has fruit year-round.

At March 7, 2006 at 7:18:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Wow! I find it facinating that the Ohr Hachaim learned there for two months.

At March 13, 2006 at 1:51:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was just there yesterday - Driving from Kibbutz Yiron to Sasa - was quite surprised to find it there - was nice for the whole family to say some tehillm a day before Taanis Esther

At March 13, 2006 at 6:27:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Thanks for the report Ari.


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