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לימוד תורה

Faith and hope - in the face of fears and worries

Parshah and its realization - for Parashot Tazria-Metzora – Rosh Chodesh Iyar - Memorial Day and Independence Day - 5783

Rabbi Eliezer Haim Shenvald

Memorial Day in Israel, also known as Yom HaZikaron and the 75th Independence Day taking place the coming week, are connected with this week's Parasha Tazria-Metzora and Rosh Chodesh Iyar which falls on Shabbat.

This year, as Memorial Day and Independence Day approach, there are mixed feelings of concern and apprehension. Where is the country headed, רֵאשִׁית צְמִיחַת גְּאֻלָּתֵנוּ” The start of flowering of Redemption”!?

A feeling that we are at a fateful crossroads.

Worry and anxiety ahead of Memorial Day, will it go by as in past years?! In an aura of honor, respect and recognition for the fallen who gave their lives, died as martyrs for the land and the defense of the people of Israel, or will there be those who will try to use the 'bereavement' for their political struggle, and will incite during Official Ceremonies to harm them and to create political delegitimization for the elected officials who represented the people in whose name the fallen embarked on their mission. And how does this affect the soldiers on regular and reserve duty?! I fear this as a member of a ‘bereaved family’ and as a commander in the IDF.

The preparation for Independence Day is also mixed with anxiousness and unsettling concerns about the future. The public raises their eyes to the beautiful blue sky with a large cloud overshadowing the sun. Independence Day is a day of thanksgiving for the great miracle of the establishment of the State of Israel, and its existence. For being privileged to live in this historical time. To be part of the history of the Jewish people of all generations.

To give thanks for the miracle of ‘Kibbutz Galuyot’ קִיבּוּץ גָּלִיּוֹת - Ingathering of the Exiles, after two thousand years in the Diaspora, in which the people of Israel were scattered at all four corners of the earth, joined together and united into one country in the Land of Israel, into one nation with all its different sectors and tribes, as promised by the prophets of Israel. Now there are those who are trying to disintegrate it from within, to destroy the wonderful achievements accomplished in its seventy-five years of independence, and to challenge the legitimacy of its elected officials.

We have to give thanks for the great miracle that the people of Israel had the privilege of establishing the IDF. The only protective force that allows it, with G-ds help, to protect its security, after two thousand years of its fate being in foreigners’ hands, where it could not defend itself. And for the great victories we had during the years of the state's existence, in the war for our mere existence that has not yet come to an end. Now we are worried about the future. Will the spirits of refusal harm our unity and gnaw away at our strength and deterrence?! All around, the Iranian octopus is plotting to envelop the State of Israel in a multi-arena war, and to threaten its existence with nuclear weapons.

The truth is that this is not the first time since the establishment of the state that the celebrations were mixed with worry and pain. Worry is one of the emotional human tools designed to face challenges, threats and dangers. To not be complacent. The concern should make us strive, act and create, strengthen and reinforce to the best of our human capacity, private and public. At the same time, we must pray to G-d that the efforts will bear fruit. However, in worry and fear there is also a neutralizing emotional component, which impairs the ability to generate stimulating mental energies. It does not allow one to be enthusiastic and rejoice wholeheartedly, even though there is much more than there was in previous generations. As the son of Holocaust survivors, I know it well.

Faith is an emotional and mental component that stems from the depth of the soul and balances worry and fear. It gives a person mental strength. The belief that the huge historical process we are going thru does not depend only on our human efforts, is bigger than us, it has wide-ranging divine moves. The faith that we learned in the Beit Midrash from Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook ZT”L, that this move is not for nothing, it is ‘the start of flowering of Redemption’ and not “an act of the devil” as the 'Neturei Karta' call it. We should be thankful, rejoice and draw strength in the face of challenges and dangers. Faith in G-d also makes it possible to see difficult challenges as opportunities for renewal and progress in the process.

At the beginning of the last century, the Zionist movement adopted the “HaTikva”- The Hope - as the national anthem:

“Our hope will not be lost” עוֹד לֹא אָבְדָה תִּקְוָתֵנוּ

“To be a free nation in our land" לִהְיוֹת עַם חָפְשִׁי בְּאַרְצֵנוּ.

Rabbi Kook ZT”L, who made a very important contribution to Zionism, believed that it would be better to use the rooted and powerful Jewish term 'Faith' - Emunah - instead of 'Hope' as an expression for the generations, and proposed a different anthem:

Eternally lives in our hearts,

לָעַד חַיָּה בִּלְבָבֵנוּ

the loyal faith [HaEmunah]

הָאֱמוּנָה הַנֶּאֱמָנָה,

to return to our holy land,

לָשׁוּב לְאֶרֶץ קָדְשֵׁנוּ

the city where David settled.

עִיר בָּהּ דָּוִד חָנָה

The people of Israel chose 'Tikvah'. Today it seems that in the face of the challenges that threaten us, we also need the strengthening 'faith'.

Rosh Chodesh, innovation and renewal that also bring along new spiritual powers. Parashat Tazria opens with the unique Jewish view of pregnancy and birth,

אִשָּׁה֙ כִּ֣י תַזְרִ֔יעַ וְיָלְדָ֖ה “When a woman at childbirth…”

In every new birth there is great joy and thanksgiving to G-d for the miraculous appearance of new life, but also worry and fear; what will be the future of the newborn. Concerns may harm the process of healthy development. This requires great faith and a lot of patience, prayers and actions together.

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