Shabbat Parashat Eikev| 5766
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Two Faces of Tu B’Av - Part II - From Harabbanut V’hamedinah, pp. 305-307
[This talk was given on Tu B’Av and Shabbat Nachamu in the year 5698 (1938). Last week we compared and contrasted two of the periods that Chazal related to the holiday of Tu B’Av. The first was the time when the generation of the sin of the spies, who did not appreciate Eretz Yisrael, finished dying out in the desert. The other was the burying of the dead from Bar Kochva’s revolt, who thought they could succeed nationally without the Torah. We continue with the lessons we can learn from these mistakes.]
The lesson from these mistakes is not to break the fusion between two connected ideals: the Torah and the Land. There is no Torah without Eretz Yisrael and no Eretz Yisrael without the Torah. The attempt to sever their link will not work. The nation learned the lesson and continued on history’s path with its Torah of life. In the first circumstance, the lesson was learned by those entering the Land. In the second, it was learned by those who began the great sojourn through the Diaspora. When the mistake’s lesson is learned, it is not as frightening, and the mourning can contain an encouraging element. “There were no holidays for Israel like Tu B’Av.”We are standing at a very difficult crossroads in Jewish history. We too are digging graves for those “who left Egypt and came to the Land.” However, we also carry the hope for better days to come. While it is a very difficult time, it could turn out to be a great time as well. Perhaps we will soon witness the establishment of sovereign, Jewish rule for the first time in 2,000 years. Perhaps it will not meet our desires to receive a shrunken, beheaded piece of land [ed. note- much smaller than the size of today’s State, even for those who count only that which is “inside the green line.”] Even so, someone who has nothing should not look with distain at getting something. Yet let us know that any little state will be a big test. It could turn into the beginning of the redemption or Heaven forbid, the opposite.What will the face of the State be like? Is it not likely that the divisiveness that makes good things decay will rule? Is it not likely that we will see those who try to separate between the Land and the Torah, in both directions? [Rav Yisraeli gave examples which were emblematic in those times of a schism between the poles of anti-religious pioneers and anti-pioneer religious.] If we cannot get the necessary spiritual proficiency to accompany the nation-building before we form the state, what chance will we have afterward? Won’t the infighting between the political parties cause more hatred and division? Maybe the new state in the making will turn into one more, big graveyard, where our dreams of 2,000 years will be buried.The two factors that brought about the destruction of the second Beit Hamikdash were baseless hatred and the failure to make a blessing on Torah study. The truth is that these two matters are closely linked. If the notion that the Torah shapes everything will not be engrained in the nation, it will not be possible to work on restoring a nation. Hatred will percolate and divide between brothers, and factors of destruction will never be able to turn into factors of rebuilding. We lived for so many years on hope. Can it be that now when the hope is so close to fruition that we will waste it by means of the actions our own hands? We have known in the past to make a blessing of “Hatov V’hameitiv” (Hashem is good and does good) regarding those who merited to be buried. Will we not learn how to bless over the good that was provided for the living? In the haftara of Nachamu, we say: “Be consoled …shall Hashem say.” Bnei Yisrael asked the navi,Yeshaya whether he was coming to console only that generation or all generations. Yeshaya answered (Yalkut Shimoni, Yeshaya 445) that it was written in the future tense to tell us that the consolation is for all generations.
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