Shabbat Parashat Tazria-Metsora| 5767
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - A Yom Ha’atzmaut Address in the Aftermath of the Yom Kippur War - From Zeh Hayom Asah Hashem, pp. 39-40
With joy and trembling we usher in this day as every year, only this year there is special cause for both joy and trembling. There were years when there was a feeling that we could celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut as those who had reached “the rest and the inheritance” (see Devarim 12:9). In other words, by inheriting the Land, we had come to rest. This year, though, our true standing in the hostile world was uncovered. We feel the lasting impression of those martyrs who gave their lives for Israel’s independence. We note that in many homes the pain of missing loved ones, of widows, orphans and bereaved parents, pervades. This is the price we pay for the privilege to live in this Land.
Above all, we tremble because of the cracks that have appeared in the interior of our joint house. There is a feud among brothers, jealousy, hatred, factionalism and political sparring, all revealing internal weakness in the face of the attacking enemy. The Satan of baseless hatred, which once destroyed the Beit Hamikdash, still dances among us. We tremble because we did not succeed to overcome the inclination toward divisiveness despite the siege from the outside. We tremble because the insatiable desire for the world’s pleasures and preoccupation with one’s personal good rule the day throughout society. People have not opened their eyes and hearts to feel the severity of the times and act accordingly.
Yet, where there is trembling there should also be joy. Despite the hidden “Divine Face,” we can still apply to ourselves the pasuk, “I have not been disgusted by them to destroy them” (Vayikra 26:44). Hashem’s Hand still hovers protectively over us, and we have not been fed to our enemies as captured game. The flow of tanks that swept from the Golan was stopped before eating up our heartland as planned. The Egyptian forces, which easily traversed the Suez Canal and lines of defense, failed to reach a Jewish town. Despite the embargo, one great superpower supported us, showing that there is division among those who hate Israel which prevents them from uniting as they might like.
This day, marking the State’s birthday, is a Rosh Hashana of sorts. Therefore, it is appropriate that it not be accompanied by wild screaming of a senseless crowd filling the squares or banging people’s heads with toy hammers. It is just as well that this Yom Ha’atzmaut is being marked in a more thought-provoking manner. After all, Rosh Hashana is a time for introspection.
We must remember the sign our forefathers passed down for the pending liberation from Egypt, the double use of the word, “pakod (I shall remember).” One remembrance, representing a physical liberation without a spiritual one, is insufficient. The state must have spirit thrust into it to attain true life. Only if the nation strengthens itself in belief in the Torah and the G-d of heaven and earth will we justify our national existence. Only with fulfillment of Torah and mitzvot does our national life have a task.
We are reminded time and again that the House of Israel is unlike any other nation. As much as some toil to blur our unique identity, it is clear that we stand out among the nations. Our independent state did not stamp out anti-Semitism. Only with a strengthened Jewish consciousness will a Jewish soldier know the goal and justification of his battles.
“I broke the staves of your yoke and led you erect (komemiyut)” (Vayikra 26:13). Komemiyut linguistically hints at two floors (Sanhedrin 100a). One floor is not enough. Only when we have both the physical and the spiritual elements and Hashem’s Name will be called upon us will the world’s nations recognize our claims to the Land. Only when we fulfill, “I will separate you from among the nations” will it be unnecessary for us to be reminded from the Heavens in the manner we were this year. Then “we will dwell in tranquility, and Jerusalem will be inhabited forever.”
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