Shabbat Parashat Emor| 5766
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - “Stand and See” - An Address for Yom Ha’atzmaut - From Zeh Hayom Asa Hashem, pp. 27-28
“Stand [still] (hityatzvu)and see Hashem’s salvation” (Shemot 14:13). So Hashem commanded Bnei Yisrael at the shores of Yam Suf before it split, thus completing their liberation from Egypt. Standing was the condition to be able to see salvation and allow it to occur. Without it, they were just trapped between a desert, a sea, and an attacking army, bringing panic. Without stopping for a moment, even if there would be a miraculous salvation, Bnei Yisrael would have over-emphasized the riches they received from the Egyptian remains. Hityatzvut impliesholding oneself back from taking advantage of the moment’s fleeting pleasures.
When a person cannot wait a minute, he is like one who speeds out of control on the street. He cannot think beyond a raise, a sale, or a beautiful house. A Jew has to be able to stop and look back at Jewish history. Otherwise, all the self-sacrifice needed to form this State with idealism and a pioneering spirit will turn into a naïve, silly dream. If one cannot slow down, he can lose his appreciation for our nation’s stubborn adherence to the Torah’s laws and principles, under the difficult conditions of 2,000 years of exile. Indeed all of today’s success is a result of that sacrifice. One must be able to take a good look at the past in order to make significant plans for the future. Had Bnei Yisrael not stopped and contemplated as the exodus from Egypt was being completed, they would have been unprepared to accept the Torah, which was necessary to complete the true exodus.
“… when Hashem returned the return of Zion, we were like dreamers” (Tehillim 126:1). The world is full of dreams and hopes. Dreams are not attained by themselves; they need to be worked at. But in order to get down to work at something, there must be a dream to strive for. [Ed. note- this address is apparently from Rav Yisraeli’s tenure as rabbi of the agricultural settlement, Kfar Haroeh.] Everyone dreams. One dreams about his barn, his garden, a successful orchard, or a reliable income. Some dreams deal with collective attainments. But in all material dreams, the romantic nature of the dream turns into an all too real “rat race” for specific, physical attainments. The lofty atmosphere of the dream is lost.
The Psalmist stresses that regarding the return to Zion, the atmosphere of a dream remains after the return occurs. We must continue to dream even after the State is established. Let us remember what the Rambam (Melachim 12:4) writes: “The sages and prophets did not desire the Days of Mashiach so that [Bnei Yisrael] will have dominion over the world … or to eat, drink and be merry. Rather, [they desired] to be free to study Torah and its wisdom.” The return to Zion is not the dream’s end, but the means to more effectively continue the dream.
We should remember this in the context of the “beginning of the flowering of our liberation” [the term that Rav Yisraeli and other leading, religious Zionists gave to the State of Israel’s place in Jewish history.] Let us not cut off the flower before it gives fruit. Our ability to continue dreaming should be a test of whether we are talking about a true liberation [Ed. note- which Rav Yisraeli assumed in other addresses and writings]. Let us show that all of those values upon which our forefathers lived and died and which were holy to those who began the recent aliyot are alive. Let us stand still for a moment, look back to survey the procession of the generations, and remember what it is that brought us to this point. Then we will be able to “see Hashem’s salvation.” We will then see that the liberation of Israel was then a preparation for receiving the Torah. So too now, the establishment of the State of Israel is a preparatory stage for the time that “the land will be filled with knowledge of Hashem as the water covers the sea bed.”
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This edition of
Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
R’ Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld o.b.m.
Hemdat Yamim is also dedicated by Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois
in loving memory of Max and Mary Sutker and Louis and Lillian Klein,z”l.
May their memory be a blessing!