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לימוד תורה

About a stolen tank, donation and sanctity

The Parasha in our everyday life – Parasha Terumah 5783

Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald, Yeshivat Meir Harel, Modi’in

The 'Harel Institute' was established in Hispin in 1997 in memory of the soldiers and Armored Corps officer and Yeshiva Student Lieutenant Harel Sherem who fell in Lebanon in 1994. Strengthening the spirit of fighting and the sense of mission among the soldiers and warriors are among the goals of the Institute, from the spiritual treasures of Judaism. To reinforce the commitment for a valuable and meaningful service and to support and intensify the spiritual world of the soldier. Out of preoccupation with the battle heritage and the fighters’ heroism in the battles in the entire Golan Heights.

In the Tel Saki area, during the first days of the Yom Kippur War, a heroic battle took place; a story of extraordinary survival and of warriors’ bravery, of personal sacrifice for the rescue of brothers in arms. The determined battle delayed the Syrian advance in the sector and delayed a Syrian division from realizing its mission of conquering the southern part of the Golan and reaching the slopes of the Golan, which would have prevented the possibility of launching a counterattack in the southern Golan that began two days later. At the same time as the heroic battles that took place in the center of the Golan and in the northern Golan, together they formed the infrastructure to the unprecedented 'upheaval' created by the war, which ended 40 km from Damascus.

In 2000, the Tel Saki outpost was closed as an active military station. I appealed to the commander of the Golan Heights, Brigadier General Zvika Gendelman, to turn the area into a battle heritage, memorial, and education site. Under the management of the ‘Harel Institute’ and in partnership with the Golan Regional Council. Major General Gabi Ashkenazi also joined. The hill was transferred to be under the Harel Institute’s management, with the Ministry of Defense’s approval. The cornerstone laying ceremony and a memorial rally with a large number of participants took place in Shvat 5761- January 2001. A memorial room for the fallen. With the participation of IDF representatives, Head of Social Security Department, Billu Mishori, and the head council. Before the ceremony, a study day was held with the participation of the soldiers, cadets of the Training Base 1 officer school, and the bereaved families. For some of them, this was the first time they had visited the place and heard the full story from the researcher Col. Moshe Givati. As part of illustrating the battle on the site, we decided to bring to the site a number of tanks and APCs (Armoured Personnel Carrier) - (in two stages) that we personally unloaded and placed to illustrate and resemble the battle. Many millions were invested in the construction of the site thanks to the assistance of The Friendship and Heritage Foundation led by Dan Almagor. To educate future generations about the heroism of the Tel warriors in particular and the Yom Kippur War fighters in general and to salute and cherish their heroism.

In the 23 years since then, thousands of visitors, of all ages, have passed through the Tel, who learned about the heroic battles, there have been dozens of memorials and prayer gatherings in memory of the fallen in recognition of their heroism. A popular series was filmed on the hill, and above all we managed to create a place for the grieving bereaved families to share their pain over the falling of their loved ones.

In Parshat Teruma we read about the contribution of the people of Israel to the establishment of the Mishkan, the dwelling of the Divine presence and the holiness in the camp. The offerings are three: half the shekel for the sockets, half the shekel for the sacrifices, and

מֵאֵ֤ת כׇּל־אִישׁ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִדְּבֶ֣נּוּ לִבּ֔וֹ תִּקְח֖וּ אֶת־תְּרוּמָתִֽי׃

“…you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart is so moved”. (Shemot 25:2) from all the tribes, without distinction.

It was intended for the body of the Tabernacle, its vessels and the garments of the priesthood. This donation was especially moving, it is the 'heart' of the offerings, the dwelling of the Divine presence and the Holiness: "By giving each of Israel a portion of the gold or silver for the Mishkan, each will give the generosity of his heart attached to the gold or silver and the Mishkan and its vessels will be made from that gold and silver… and a resting place for eternal life, etc… The Tabernacle itself is like the candle, and the love of the girls of Jerusalem is like the flame connected to the candle. Before the face of G-d shone the love and generosity of the heart with the children of Israel, etc. The Mishkan will be found for years within each other, the inner, spiritual from the generosity of the hearts of the Israelites, and the outer from the physical charity etc. That's why they were called Temple and Tabernacle."

Nowadays we don't have a Temple. But we have the holiness of Torah and Mitzvot, of Synagogues and Batei Midrash. There is also the holiness of the Land of Israel and the people of Israel, and the holiness of the heroes who fell for the sanctification of G-d’s name for the State of Israel. Sanctity in the heart, mutual, which must not be violated. We must cherish their heroism and embrace the bereaved families who bear the pain.

The theft of the tank from the site of commemoration, memory and heroism in Tel Saki crossed a red line.  It is harmful and hurtful to the feelings of the bereaved families.

It is allowed and debates should exist. It is true that there will be opinions in favor and against the reform. Demonstrations are allowed as well as expressing an opinion. The IDF, battle heritage, and the memory of the fallen must be taken out of the political debate. They must not be a political tool. And it must not be allowed for a certain party in the debate to appropriate them, or pretend to speak on their behalf. The fighters in the Tel area, and in the war in general, came from all sectors and from all denominations, religious and secular, from Yeshivot, from Bnei Akiva, from the kibbutzim, and from the cities, and they all fought shoulder to shoulder. (Although even then there were difficult political differences of opinion.)  

This should be the case in the future as well, because it is in our souls.

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