Study and Theory/
Tel Hai

Aharon Sher - His and about Him

Aharon Sher was born in 1899 in Ukraine. He immigrated to Israel in 1914. He joined a group of field workers in Ein Hai, in Petah Tikvah and in Ben Shemen, and later - joined the Kineret group. At the start out of the events in the Galilee, he volunteered to assist the Tel Hai defenders. On Feb. 6, 1920, he was killed in an attempt to assist his comrades, who were attacked by bandits while working in the field.

 

 

On Guard / Aharon Sher

Published in the “Kuntres”, the United Labor  journal, of the 18th of Tevet, 5680;

We must lend a helping hand to the “far northern” point. Since the hearts of the people in the most “fortified” places, Tel Hai and Kfar Giladi, feel - aside of the clear realization that the place is not to be abandoned, and that that which is built shall not be forfeited, that we are merely a handful, a few people

 

We must expand the areas of our surveillance and not suffice with protection of the four walls of our homes, yet we must also guard the surrounding fields. We do not need a combatting army, “living on its sword” until we overcome the bad days. Instead, we need a camp of laborers who also know how to use daggers. We need a worker who knows how to protect his plough and not only to use it – and he must realize that he is not only protecting the walls of his house, but also the land and his work on it. At a time of danger, a few people must work together with one set of animals – since work in the field cannot be abandoned.

 

For this difficult and dangerous situation, we have a single word of a advice: to immediately increase the Jewish population in the upper Galilee that would be engaged in labor and surveillance. Aside cultivating agricultural produce, Tel Hai has the capacity and need for plant eucalyptus trees. This type of planting is necessary and important for the reviving of the place and this could occupy twenty people most of the year. It is important to build a stone wall in the north of the house, from the side of the doors and windows that hamper the defense so severely. Likewise, Kfar Giladi has conditions for planting, which now has to be materialized. Negotiations regarding these positions must be rushed as much as possible. This work may be carried out by large groups and they ought not to be postponed even for a moment, since events are unfolding at a quick pace and no one knows what the next day could bring.

We, who are willing to rush all available doctors when one of our relatives is ill, are negligent at utilizing means of protection that would prevent ailments to begin with. One day an army may show up and the next day it could be gone. And it is bad and bitter for us if we need to rely on foreign forces. We may soon miss the critical date, just as we have missed it in the case of Hamra*.

And what we may have easily done yesterday, tomorrow we may have to do with pains, and perhaps also with victims. Don't let the upper Galilee fall.

 

|Aharon Sher 

 

*Hamra – a plot intended as a workers' colony on the property of the Jewish Colonization Association near Kfar Giladi. Thirteen male members and one female of the veteran agricultural workers, arrived at the place after Sukkot of 5680. The place was abandoned in the middle of the month of Tevet, 5680, since it was impossible to protect it due to the lack of stone houses.

 

Joseph Trumpeldor's Letter to the Defense Committee Concerning Sher's Death

February 7th, 1920

To the Defense Committee in Ayelet Hashahar and in Tiberius,

In short, I hereby notify you about the siege we underwent yesterday [on the 17th of Shevat, 5680]. A detailed report of this will be sent to you later. We had traveled in the morning, that is, four of us, in a wagon to Metula to fetch heating material and fodder. Three of us went to the field, not far from the house: two – set out to plough, the third served as a guard.  At about 11:30 we saw two riders heading from the north behind the hill who started shooting at the workers. These were assisted by other Arabs who hid behind the hill from the north and from the east. At the same time two Arabs on foot approached the laborers in order to steal the animals. At this point the guard returned fire and the workers attempted to lead the animals home. But out of fear from the gunshots the animals got entangled in their harnesses, which forced the workers to leave them there and run home for help. The guard retreated to the hill as well, from which it was easier to shoot. A few minutes later, about ten of our men set out to the field. Of these, Sher and another two were first to step out. Fire from both ends got more intense, when suddenly Sher cried out: "I'm hurt!" – and fell. The bullet went through his body, making a hole on his right and then in his chest, near his heart. The doctor in Tel Hair gave him immediate treatment. But it was to no avail. A half an hour after he was brought home, he died. We are now going to dig him a grave.

 

We once again demand that you send us the number of people we need. If help does not come on time – it may be too late.

 

The "Kuntres" (journal) adds:                                           

Sher, the dear member, was uprooted, he, who grew in our midst out of the few, the voice of his words written to us after his return from the Galilee roars at us.

Kuntres 25, 24th of Shevat, 5680                                              

 

The Sixteenth of Tevet, 5680, Tel Hai:

We have received his letter via a messenger. There has been some shooting in Metula and on Metula, this, on a daily basis. The situation is weird and uncertain. There are

gangs wandering around, and we hear shouts and shooting and we have no idea what it's all about. Our material situation is extremely severe. We are rapidly running out of products and our food supply could last for no more than a few days.  It's difficult to know what will occur afterwards. If you are capable of improving our condition – you'd probably do so without our asking it.

We have sent the details with….

I am strongly adamant about remaining in my spot, and therefore, please try to make this possible for us.

In the name of the Tel Hai group,

Joseph Trumpeldor

Kalman Cohen

A Victim / Moshe Smilansky

A new victim fell. In one of our strongholds in the Upper Galilee. It was, the laborer Sher of the Kineret Group, who set out to assist his friends in the Upper Galilee. He was killed as he ran to rescue his friends who ploughed in the fields, from massacre by a group of bandits who attacked them to steal their mules. The mules were saved, yet the savior fell dead.

The tragedy in itself does not surprise us. We knew to begin with: the handful of our courageous people, who stood up in defense of the Hebrew strongholds within the stormy sea of the "rebellion" – are doomed to die any hour and any minute, and what is the significance of a casualty in these days filled with death and losses? How many of our youths had the privilege to die in this way, with one hand holding onto a building-measuring tool while the other one holds a gun? 

And how many of our youths led like sheep to slaughterhouses would pray to die such a death on the heights of the Land of our Forefathers? Nonetheless, there is something tragic about this wondrous death that depresses one's soul.

A bitter question occupies one's mind: Was this sacrifice actually necessary? Sher fell as he rushed to bring help to those who ploughed the fields, while being exposed to the bullets of the robbers, while death and destruction are widespread in the entire area, and while those who committed themselves in the Commonwealth of Nations to guard and protect him retreated to the mountains.

It has been almost two months that a handful of courageous people in the north remain in their positions and look forward for help to arrive from the south, since it is supernatural for a person to work and battle by day and then to guard and wage war at night. Man must be given the chance to rest and to regain strength. A person is not made of iron. They anticipate yet no one arrives. The public is silent. A few come on their own accord. And when a few people arrive the same number of exhausted people leave.

We ask for provisions [of basic supplies], we ask as a high form of kindness to provide "blankets", we speak of the "ideal" of obtaining new, white uniforms. And the public in the south sleeps deeply under its warm blankets in its soft beds and no one takes heed of what is transpiring with a few people standing on guard, tired, hungry and half naked. And not only is this the attitude of the public, but also those, who by their rank, are the ones ought to provide these.

There are "negotiations" that take several weeks and end up with indecisiveness, and eyes get sunk in their sockets until a decision is finally made: so and so much people are to man so and so many positions.

Is this the way the settlement in the south should have responded to a call from the north?

And also, our people who head the settlements, ought to pay attention to the "spark of fire that fell into the pile of flax". Sher fell as a victim. They say: One of the pleasant youths in the land. Since this is the strategy of the angel of death: to choose the best. Will this new blood shed light on the actual state of things?

Moshe Smilansky, Ha'aretz, Feb. 18, 1920

Aharon Sher/ Y. C. Brenner

 

I have seen him once in my life: When he came to Jaffa for a matter of defense and when he entered for the last time to convey his message, the message of a person who "stands on guard".

 

I didn't know and I did not exchange a word with him. I didn't even know his name. Now, when I was told: It was he – I recalled him, and he stands before me - as if alive, from the day I heard the tidings to date; as the symbol of quiet sadness, the symbol of pure modesty, the symbol of dedication. Our wild neighbors, as always, do not know what they are doing, whom they are murdering: the best of humanity.

 

Y.C. Brenner, from his legacy, Printed in "Kuntres", Adar, 5682

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