Rav Berger on Kever David and Geula - Part 4 of 6
From Rav Berger's latest:
Continued from Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
The Ariza"l testified in his Ru'ah Hakodesh and Gave His Support to This Place on Mt. Zion that There is the Gravesite of the Kingdom of the House of David
Besides the earlier traditions, the Maharam Hagiz ZY"A, in his book (Eileh Mas'ei, p. 16) that he has a tradition that the Ariza"l
gave his support to ... the city of Zion, which is outside the walls of Yerushalayim that there is the gravesite of the kings of the House of David.
The "Walls of Yerushalayim" are the Ottoman walls that stand there today, when at the time that the Ariza"l went up from Egypt to Tzefat, it already stood for 32 years. The Maharam Hagiz ZT"L describes exactly the point where the Ariza"l stood, and according to his description, the graves of the kings of the House of David are outside the walls at Zion Gate on the southwestern hill, where David's Tomb is today.
The Warning of the Maharil Diskin ZY"A Regarding Anyone Who Questions and Instills Doubt About the Testimony of the Ariza"l and Maharam Hagiz
In the pamphlet called "Admat HaKodesh" [referred to here] that was published in the year 5650 by the Maggid of Vilkomer, Rav Hayim Yitzhak Aharon Rappaport ZT"L, he wrote and brought down that which the Maharil Diskin ZY"A said:
Really, all holy places that we have a tradition for from generation to generation are to be considered trustworthy, correct, and true by themselves - and they do not require any testimony. All the more so when the pillars of the world like the Ramban Z"L, the Ariza"l, and Maharam Hagiz ZT"L did testify about them. And anyone who will be stubborn and stand by his original opinion of placing doubts in one of the holy places that are mentioned to have had testmony of the aforementioned Ge'onim and will also reveal his opinion and doubts against them, he is in the category of a fool, an evildoer, and an arrogant person. And he is included in those who prevents one's fellow from doing the Mitzvah of praying there.
The Testimony of the Painters Who Testified Before the Maharil Diskin and the Maggid of Vilkomer ZYA"A
(from the "Moriah" Torah Magazine, Year 19, vol 1-2 (217-218) Iyar, 5753) [if you have access to Otzar HaHochma. See also here in English]
The only people of which it is known that they left the graves of David, Shelomo and the kings of the House of David in peace are "The Painters": Rav Yosef and Rav Aryeh Leib Purius, a father and son.
120 years ago, "The Painters", who were experts in plastering and painting, gave over a detailed description of what they saw in the graves of the kings of the House of David. They testified their testimony of all they saw in front of the genius rabbis the Maggid of Vilkomer and the Maharil Diskin ZY"A. The entrance of "The Painters" to the cave of the graves was made possible after it was known to the Turkish sultan about their expertise in painting. At the command of the sultan, they were brought in to one of the rooms underneath the gravesite of David's Tomb on Mt. Zion in order to repair that which was damaged by the signs of the times. The work took place with a very watchful and strict guard of armed guards so that they do not enter the inner chambers. After 2 weeks, the guards, due to their holiday, left "The Painters" alone and relied on them to fulfill the command of the sultan, and they also left them the keys and left them on their own. After they passed 3 tunnels, the painters uncovered a stone, upon which was engraved in Ketav Ashuri (the same script as a Sefer Torah) and on two lines:
מלכי בית דוד
]The Graves of
The Kings of the House of David
When they removed the stone from its place, they uncovered a staircase that brought them to an elaborate hall with marble pillars, and on the side of the hall was the room of the resting place of our King David A"H. And this was how "The Painters" A"H described it when they stood at the doorway of the resting place of our master David A"H:
We entered there trembling at the doorway with great exertion and we saw that it is a big "house". And we were trembling very much since we saw that opposite our eyes a great light was shining like a fire. And we stood at that place for approximately an hour. And afterwards, we mustered the strength to enter inside that room. And we saw in the middle of the "house" four marble pillars covered with gold at the top and silver at the bottom with marble in the middle. And from pillar to pillar, there was an enclosure like a fence made of copper strings like a sieve. And we saw in the middle of the room something like a gold bed, and on the bed was like a platform shaped like a shield, and upon it stood a coffin covered in gold, but with holes like latticework. And we went further toward it and we saw a cover over it, and in the middle was painted something similar to what is called "Magen David" [Star of David] [with 8 corners] and in the middle of the Magen David, it was written "דוד" ["David"] and a gold crown adorned with precious stones [and that was what was shining like a bright light earlier]. And we lifted the covering a little bit from the coffin and we saw on the side of the coffin, it was written "דוד בן ישי" [David the son of Jesse] and on the other side of the coffin, it was written "דוד בן ישי מלך ישראל" [David the son of Jesse, king of Israel]. And immediately, we fell on our faces and we said there some chapters of Psalms... We also saw there something like a marble table and on it is a long double-edged sword which was approximately 5 Amot long, and close to it was placed there something like a scepter, and in the handle of the scepter was set a shining precious stone. And all this we saw on this one day that we were there without being guarded at all because our work was only approximately one hour, and all day, we tried to see there. Hashem, blessed be He, should allow us to merit to see the light of the face of our Mashiah, speedily in our days, Amen.
Close to it was the room of King Solomon A"H, and next to it was a grave where a Sefer Torah was placed upon it, and that was the grave of King Hizkiya, as was explained to them later by the Maharil Diskin (as brought down in the gemara Bava Kama 17a). The description in the testimony that "The Painters" gave over to these rabbis is very similar to what is described in the book Masa'ot Binyamin of Ribbi Binyamin of Tudela, but with greater detail.
"The Painters", who entered and left in peace from the graves of the kingdom of the House of David, were known for their righteousness and purity of motives, and that is what stood for them and made their entrance and exit possible for good life and peace [i.e. without harm]. "The Painters" described in their testimony that at the entrance of the Tziyun of our master King David, there was a sign written in Ketav Ashuri: "קדוש קדוש קדוש מה נורא המקום הזה" ["Holy, holy, holy, how awesome is this place"]...
The Maggid of Vilkomer ZT"L wrote down the testimony of the painters word for word and made many copies, where one of them, he sent to his son, Rav Yehuda Leib Rappaport in the Diaspora and one of them he gave to the painters.
Also, "the Saraph", the Maharil Diskin ZY"A wrote down the testimony that he heard from the painters word for word. The rabbis Z"L refrained from publicizing this testimony for fear of the lives of the painters and of the guards that were liable to be punished by the sultan.
The son and grandson of the aforementioned painters, Rav Yisrael Porat (Purius) ZT"L composed the book [really set of books] "Mevo Hatalmud" and served many years as the rabbi in Cleveland, USA. Rav Porat Z"L was close to the Gedolei Hador of all sectors, but mainly to the ge'onim Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, Rav Shmuel Salant, Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, and Rav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook ZYA"A.
And indeed, in a letter that Rav Porat ZT"L tells over of his memories of the Maharil Diskin (publicized in the journal called "Tzefunot" vol. 13) and he writes there:
My grandfather, the painter, R' Yosef Purius Z"L, also told over to me that once, he went down with permission of the Ottoman government into the graves of the kings of the House of David ZYA"A for the purpose of plastering and painting. Maran ZT"L (the Maharil Diskin) got interested in the matter and sent to call him, and he investigated what he saw there. And my grandfather said to him that in the second room where King Solomon A"H is buried, he imagined that he saw the image of a Sefer Torah on one grave, and Maran Z"L said to him that this is definitely the resting place of King Hizkiya Z"L as Haza"l said (Bava Kama 17a) that they placed a Sefer Torah over his grave and they said about him, "This [king buried here] fulfilled what is written in this [Sefer Torah]!"[To be continued]