Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says: "If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."
My dream of becoming a Shamer, an Israelite Samaritan as opposed to an Israelite Jew, terrifies me so I guess it is big enough.
Well, to quote the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., 'I have been to the mountaintop'.
I know I said I wouldn't do this but my wife is overseas and I simply could not not go to Aargareezem. I WhatsApped my Shamer friend & he said that today (Friday, 18 June) would be a good day to come. (My wife gets back on Tuesday morning.) Sunday is Shavuot for the Shamerim. He said that he would speak to the manager at the Israel Nature & Parks Authority site on the mountain, to let me into the locked areas surrounding Givat Olam and the Altar of Yesaahq. I drove there this morning; my drive through Huwara was breathtakingly uneventful. I was so excited when Aargareezem came into view! I threaded my way through the Shamer village & drove straight to the site. The manager was expecting me. There was hardly anyone there, which suited my purposes very nicely. The manager asked me if I was becoming a Shamer and I said that since that would break up my marriage, no. When we got to Givat Olam, he reminded me to take off my sandals (which I would have done anyway, of course). As soon as he opened the gate, I strode in and threw myself down flat on the rock, arms and legs outstretched. I was very conscious of the feeling of the warm rock pressed up against the left side of my face. I lay there for at least 5 minutes (thank Shema there was nobody there) and said, "Here I am Shema, here I am" and then repeated "Here I am" several times. Other than praying and thanking Shema for bringing me there & asking if I might serve him there one day, all I said was "Here I am." We then walked over to the Altar of Yesaahq. The manager let me in. I stared in awe at the rocks of the altar for a few minutes and left. As he locked up the gate to the altar, I thanked him and said that I was now ready to play the visitor/tourist. I walked over to the deck where one can see Nablus down below & Mt. Eval on the other said. The view was as stunning as always.
Afterwards, I drove down into the village & parked right next to the compound where the fire pits for Pesach are. The area has been refurbished and is now much better kept than I remember from some of my previous visits. he now 20 pits are capped & locked and are thus presumably clean & free of litter. I saw a Shamer cohein on the steps of the building right next to the area with the pits. I recognized him as the Cohein Gadol's brother & the keeper of the little museum up there (where my friend and I were, see my second post way back). I must've stuck out like a non-Shamer sore thumb. He greeted me and I went over to him. I said that I knew him & remembered him from the museum, which was 7 years ago. I told him that I remember something he said then & think about it often. There was a young married couple there with us. The cohein asked them if they thought that the Shamerim loved Jerusalem & when the husband said no, he replied, "No, it is a city in the Land of Israel and we love it very, very much." He was amazed that I remembered that. I told him that I had been there in 2014 to see their Pesach and that in a sense, I had never left. He smiled. I told him that I had just come from praying at Givat Olam & the Altar of Yesaahq. He said that anyone can go there. I said no, that my Shamer friend had asked the manager to open the gates for me so that I could pray on the sites. He was impressed. I told him that I can come only very infrequently as my wife does / would / not approve. I told him that I thought King Solomon had made a grievous mistake by building a large and grandiose Temple to replace the (mere) tent of the Mishkan. Lots of peoples build & have built grandiose temples to their gods, that is commonplace. But who worships their G-d in a tent? That is unique. He asked me where the Mishkan/ Tent of Meeting was and I pointed back at Aargareezem and said it was hidden there somewhere. He smiled again.
Shabbat is coming in soon. I must go get ready. I will write more tomorrow night, please Shema.
Well, it's late Sunday afternoon.
The cohein that I spoke with brought up the canard from Hulin 6b that they, the Shamerim, worship a dove-shaped idol. They resent that utterly false (and malicious?) accusation and are hurt terribly by it. I told him that I know it is false and that as soon as I realized that it was false, I started wondering what else in our so-called "Oral Torah" is false and once you open that door, there's no going back, you cannot shut it again. (To quote L.M. Boston, "What's thought cannot be unthought.") As Friday was erev Shabbat (duh) and erev erev Shavuot for the Shamerim, and since he was a cohein, he was constantly being greeted by passers-by. I thanked him for his time and then went to see my Shamer friend, who I hadn't seen in several years, certainly not during my last visit to Aargareezem 2 years ago. It was good to see him (and his formerly Jewish wife). He is in his late 70's and is showing his years a bit but is still as mentally alert as always. I thanked him profusely for speaking to the Israel Nature & Parks Authority site manager and arranging for me to get up close and personal on Givat Olam and the Altar of Yesaahq. He gave a Shamer calendar (good until April of next year, until the next First of Nisan of course, the real "Rosh Hashanah") and a copy of the latest Shamer newsletter, of which he is the publisher. We spoke for a while and then I wished him & his wife a good Shabbat & a happy holyday and then I left and made my way home.
So I'm back to...
In the account (to which reference has been made) Jacob (upon whom be peace) is commanded to erect another altar on it, in order that the timid may be well assured that such a place is his refuge, for it is the house of God, the protector, (may He be exalted) who saves the one taking refuge in Him and seeking Him by faith, in this place.