God knocking on the door of history
It is hard to contain my emotions when I reflect on Yom Haatztmaut – The day we celebrate the fusion of Man and God's roles in the granting an Independent State in our Homeland
As Reb Yaakov Klein shared on FB - As we joyously celebrate or more cautiously ponder the historical and spiritual import of this day, it behooves us to ask what is often a difficult question - "Independence from what?" or, more painfully, "Independence from Whom?"
May our independence here in Artzeinu HaKedosha truly be founded on a separateness bound with a national uniqueness that is firmly rooted in the Echad, Yachid, U'Meyuchad, the Fount of our souls and the Source of our survival and success.
May a great spirit of national awakening to the Holiness of this land and the nobility of our People arise so that the "independence" we celebrate can begin to universally and most clearly reflect not "kochi v'otzem yadi etc." but "hein am l'vadad yishkon," the clearest expression of our potential to serve not only as a moral, ethical, and technological light unto the nations, but as a spiritual beacon as well.
Ki ani Hashem mekadeshchem.
He is bringing us home. Our home. The one we share with Him.
Indeed, I want to share a little of my Experience of Yom Haatztmaut. I joined the festive Morning Prayers held at the newly (Not yet finished ) Museum of Tolerance https://www.museumoftolerance.com/ with Carlebach inspired Hallel.
The service was graced by the private participation of the Ex American Ambassador to Israel – David Friedman , HaCohen. I had the privilege of smoozing and washing his hands. Rabbi David Stav highlighted that indeed we are living in miraculous and Mashiach Times by reflecting on a very simple fact we have an ambassador of the World’s most powerful Nation putting on Tallit and Tefillin (and praying with passion) on Israel Independence in Jerusalem. Let that simple act sink in.
In his words – David regards himself as a regular guy (I add connected Jew), but the historic import of this cannot be underestimated.
The Full service can be found on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iut1NTyTmSI
Skip to Hallel, the speeches which also talked about the Museum of Tolerance. After the Davening , I somehow got onto a private Tour of the Museum by the Founder who was showing the Museum to Rav Dov Zinger. Not only fascinating, but transformative. We sing and talk about how the Torah should go out of Jerusalem. Well, the Museum with a strong base in Torah, History and Destiny drives its inspiration from Avraham Avinu and hopes to be a place of dialogue and Meeting place for all Jews, Peoples of Israel and the world. No expense has spared in this truly magnificent Structure and Venture and no doubt will be on the Itinerary off both Locals and Tourists.
At this stage , I want to reflect and share the Link to Rabbi Sacks zt"l on the spiritual significance of the State of Israel ,recorded in April 2020 during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, about the spiritual significance of the State of Israel. Rabbi Sacks' message continues to have huge relevance for us today.
In this, He develops the Theme of Judaism of the Land of Israel. This is area of great import , debate and challenge is we move from the Torah of the Galut into the Torah of Israel, a more public and inclusive one . This is requiring a change in the mindset (and daresay Halacha) that challenges us individually and as a People .
One of the Organizations addressing this is Machon Shilo. http://machonshilo.org/en/index.php
I want to end off this blog with 2 articles which give further thought to ponder.
Rabbi Shimson Nadel wrote and shared on FB
While most Israelis celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, sadly, the day has become a glorified July 4th. It’s a day off from work, a day off from school, a day for hikes and the ubiquitous BBQ. A day to spend with family and friends, enjoying the beautiful Spring weather. For many, the day has lost its meaning; it’s religious significance.
What is the religious meaning of Israel’s Independence Day?
In one of his seminal essays, Kol Dodi Dofek, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik explores the religious significance of the founding of the State of Israel. First delivered as an address in May 1956 to celebrate the eighth anniversary of Israel’s independence, Rabbi Soloveitchik draws upon the theme of missed opportunity in the Song of Songs. He describes how the Beloved, God, was knocking on the door of history – in the political arena, on the battlefield, and in the religious world. All which led to the founding of the State. Rabbi Soloveitchik charges us with the task of hearing those knocks, and seeing God’s Hand guiding history.
Is the State of Israel just a series of political machinations and aspirations that took place over that last hundred years? Or, were all of the Herzls, Ben Gurions, San Remo Conferences, Balfour Declarations, British Mandates and Partition Plans – part of God’s plan – an answer to two thousand years of yearning?
Zionism did not begin in the nineteenth century. For two millennia the Jew has dreamed of a return to Zion; a return to the Land of Israel. Three times a day we turned towards Jerusalem in prayer and asked God to “speedily gather us together from the four corners of the earth to our Land.” We asked Him to “return in compassion” to Jerusalem. Never did we relinquish the deep bond with our historic homeland. Never did we stop yearning. We continued to dream.
And in 1948, that dream became a reality with the establishment of the State. For me, it is the quintessential modern day miracle. Like the fiery phoenix, rising from the ashes of gas chambers and crematoria, the Jewish People arose and returned home. The dry bones in Ezekiel’s vision came to life, and returned to their land. As Zechariah prophesied, “Elderly men and women once again sit in the streets of Jerusalem…and boys and girls play in her streets.” These are my children! The world witnessed the restoration of a Jewish State and a Jewish People. A nascent nation fought for its independence and, with God’s providence, persevered.
God was smiling down on us at that moment.
When I think about Yom Ha’atzmaut, I think of God’s smile.
And while things are far from perfect here in the State of Israel, we are living at a unique moment in history. We recognize that it is “Reishit Tzmichat Geulateinu – the First Flowering of our Redemption.”
The establishment of the State of Israel is no less of a miracle than the Exodus from Egypt, or the Splitting of the Sea. And it is a miracle that deserves to be a celebrated, just like we would any festival.
While there is rich discussion among legal authorities if a new holiday may be added to the Jewish calendar, Rabbi Moshe Sofer, the revered “Chatam Sofer” ruled that it is indeed a Torah obligation to celebrate a miraculous salvation (Teshuvot Chatam Sofer, YD 233; Ibid., OC 191). In fact, over the centuries, tens of communities have established “Purims,” to commemorate and celebrate miraculous events. (For an exhaustive list see Yom Tov Levinski, “Purim Sheni,” published in his Sefer ha-Moadim, Vol. 6 (Tel Aviv, 1959), pp. 297-321).
Not without controversy, following the establishment of the State of Israel, the Chief Rabbinate, together with leading authorities, looked to these precedents in establishing Yom Ha’atzmaut (and later Yom Yerushalayim) as a religious holiday, with recitation of Hallel and other festive prayers.
The Talmud (Sanhedrin 94a) describes how King Hezekiah could have been Messiah, but for the fact that he failed to give praise upon the downfall of Sancherev, the Assyrian King. Hezekiah failed to give this profound experience religious expression.
Let us not make the same mistake.
So have your BBQ. Go on a hike with friends and family. But remember the religious significance of the day. Hear God knocking on the door of history. Remember God’s smile.
Barbara Sofer, The author wrote and shared on FB
This week's double Torah portions Tazria and Metzora focus on the challenging concepts of holiness and purity. Drawing the two Torah portions together is a theme of avoiding the gossip and disparaging talk which lower our personal and communal spiritual state. Just coming off the observance of Memorial Day and Independence Day with so much expressed positivity and pride in the successes of Israel instead of chronic criticism, we're reminded how uplifting such appreciation can be.
Observance of Memorial and Independence days was pushed up because Independence Day, the fifth of Iyar, actually falls on Shabbat this year. On Shabbat, let's continue celebrating, and remaining mindful of the miracle of Israel.
What wouldn't generations of our worthy ancestors have given for the privilege of being able to wish Shabbat Shalom to friends around the world from Jerusalem?
So, my dear fb friends, Hag Atzmaut Sameach (Happy Independence Day) and Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem!