Israel Independence Day 2014

There are so many wonderful articles, moving stories and pictures of happy people celebrating the wonderful Jewish State of Israel.

Israel at 66

I’m would like to share this deeply moving article (originally published in Israel National News)

This is the Shabbat Drasha of Rav Avihu Schwartz, Ram at the Beit El Yeshiva, on the Sabbath preceding Yom Haatzmaut 2014, at the Nitzanit Synagogue in Beit El:

The Talmud tells of the love that our Rabbis had for Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel:  “Rabbi Abba used to kiss the stones of Acco. Rabbi Chanina would remove rocks from the roads, so that no one would be damaged by them and thereby have a complaint against the Holy Land”(Ketuvot 112a).

There was a great Talmid Chacham in the last century, Rabbi Yissachar Tamar, who wrote the book Alei Tamar, a commentary on the Talmud Yerushalmi. Regarding the above Gemara, the Alei Tamar brings the following story about the hassidic Rebbe of Sadigur (Alei Tamar, p69, on Tract. Sheviis, Ch4 Halacha 7):

“Every Yom Ha’Atzmaut, the Rebbe made his way to the Great Synagogue in Tel Aviv. There he would join the other congregants praying Hallel with great joy. After the services, the Rebbe would join the dancing throngs outside in the streets, clasping hands and dancing with enthusiasm and happiness. It was always obvious that the Rebbi of Sadigur felt a special joy on Yom Haatzmaut.

One year, one of his hassidim got up the nerve to have a personal audience with the Rebbe and question him about his Yom Haatzmaut behavior. The answer he received tells us how many light-years ahead of his contemporaries, and some of ours, stood the Rebbi of Sadigur:

‘In March,1938, the Nazis (may their name and memory be blotted out) swallowed up Austria, and entered Vienna. Their first move was to accomplish the degradation of the Jews, and as the Rabbi of the Jewish community, they chose me, giving me a big broom and had me sweep the streets of Vienna. As I did that work, I prayed: ‘Ribbono Shel Olam, may it be Thy will that I merit to take a broom and sweep the streets of Eretz Yisrael’.

‘Obviously, it is not fitting for your Rebbe to be seen in the streets of Tel Aviv sweeping in front of everybody. So, on Yom Haatzmaut I get up at 3 am, take a big broom and with great שמחה I sweep the streets of my neighborhood.

After sweeping in Vienna, the Nazis יש’וזכרם  (may their name be blotted out) shoved  a Nazi flag in my hands and made me climb to the top of a tall building and plant their swastika atop the roof. As I climbed, I turned to the Creator and said:

‘Ribbono Shel Olam, may I yet merit to wave the flag of Israel in a high spot in the Land of Israel’. And so I plant on my roof the flag of Israel on Yom Haatzmaut, with happiness and התלהבות, thanking the Lord that He accepted my prayers’.

To this the Alei Tamar adds: “May those who love His Land hear this, understand the issues, and add to his wisdom”.

To which I would underscore that understanding the issues is as important as ever. This article by Gideon Israel, “Israel at peace, Palestinians at war” is a great place to start for a succinct and objective commentary on the reality of Israel’s prospects for peace.

Enjoy celebrating Yom Haazmaut, Israel’s 66th Independence Day!