Shabbat Parashat Vayeira | 5763
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Reasons to be Thankful for the Medina - Excerpts from Harabanut V’hamedina pg. 284
[In the piece from which these excerpts are taken, Rav Yisraeli responds to a student who found difficulty saying Hallel for the establishment of a State which, in his eyes, caused tens of thousands of olim to abandon a religious lifestyle. Within his response, Rav Yisraeli takes issue on this characterization (as we hope to share with you some day). We will now see the reason for Hallel, even if one accepts the student’s assumptions.]
The halacha is that when a father dies and leaves an inheritance, a son not only makes the mourner’s blessing, but also Shehechianu for receiving significant financial resources (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 223:2). We see that even when one event causes both sadness and happiness, and even when the sadness overpowers the happiness, we must still bless for the good. The good received is not swallowed up and, as if standing independently, requires thanks to Hashem. Thus, even according to your assumptions, one should thank Hashem for the gift of Jewish independence in its homeland of Eretz Yisrael, despite your disappointment.
Furthermore, one needs to distinguish between thanking Hashem for what He has granted us and our satisfaction with the way we make use of that present. Indeed, any good, which a person receives, also places a trial before him. Will he use the Divine gift to further his service of Hashem or not? Mesillat Yesharim says that it is a greater trial to be rich than to be poor (compare Chagiga 9 to Devarim 32:15). Despite this, one makes a blessing on receiving riches even though he may fail in the test it creates. The inevitable conclusion is that when receiving something which in its essence is a blessing, one must thank Hashem for His Divine assistance. If he doesn’t make good use of the present, he may blame only himself and pray that in the future he will improve his use. In truth, this concept is clear from the Chumash as well. The cheit ha’egel (sin of the golden calf), the most severe sin in our history, was brought about, in no small part, by Bnei Yisrael’s excess of gold (see Rashi Shemot 32:34, Devarim 1:1). One would think, then, that we should not thank Hashem for receiving riches as we left Egypt. Indeed, it is hard to understand why Hashem provided those riches, which contributed to our downfall. But in fact, Hashem did keep His promise of riches and, in the Haggada, we do thank Hashem for them. Furthermore, even the Exodus itself was instrumental in setting the stage for the sin. Before being exposed to Hashem’s miracles and receiving freedom, Bnei Yisrael were not held strictly responsible for the idol worship they were involved in. So why do we get so excited about the story of what happened in Egypt, considering the tragedy that it brought about? The spies who discouraged Bnei Yisrael from entering Eretz Yisrael also were concerned about the spiritual dangers of entering a land with such physical bounty. History showed how well founded this fear was (see Devarim 8: 11-18). Yet we thank Hashem every time we eat for the “corruptive” bounty of the “good land which Hashem gave to you.”Therefore, it is clear that even if we were to erroneously assume that the State of Israel caused more religious deterioration than development, we would still be obligated to thank Hashem for the great present of its establishment, which our generation merited in His grace.
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