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"THIS IS THE DAY GOD HAS MADE (and which "makes God", makes Him real to man as He fulfills his prophecies), LET'S REJOICE AND BE DELIGHTED WITH IT" (or "IN HIM"-- Hirsch comments: It's God Who's brought about this day when Israel, redeemed, returns to its Divine Sanctuary, crowned by universal recognition. Hence we have reason to rejoice and be glad in Him, in God-- Ps. 118:24.

Industralist and scholar Arman Krausz z"l published a beautiful machzor for Yom Haatzmaut in 1964, a true labor of love; it matches the other British Routledge machzorim and is a historic find for collectors of Judaica. We recently acquired some new copies, long in storage; anyone donating $50 or more to our religious zionist projects may obtain a copy upon request, as long as the supply lasts.

In his message, blessing the project, former Minister of Religions Zorah Warhnaftig writes:

"Since the days of the Hasmoneans, for nigh 70 generations, up to a liberation of a part of the land of our ancestors in our War of Independence, and the re-establishment of a Jewish State within these boundaries, no new festival for the entire Jewish people has been added to our yearly cycle of joyous days.

"During this long period between the institution of the Hasmonean Chanuka and the Day of Israel Independence, many individuals and communities have appointed certain days to be marked by joyous festivals in grateful memory of relief from calamities and rescue from evil plotters and persecution. Such festivals would be observed annually by the respective communities, or even accepted by Jewish communities thruout that region or by an entire province in the Diaspora. Regardless of how far the celebration of such a festival extended, in the course of time its meaning faded and its observance lapsed into oblivion.

"Now, by the grace of God, Rock of Israel, we have been granted the restoration of the independent State of Israel on ancestral soil. We have also been granted a pre-eminent new holiday-- Israel Independence Day-- which has its origin, for the first time since Chanuka, in our own land, and has been accepted with the sanction of oiur Sages, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, as a day of rejoicing and gratitude in the State of Israwel, and thruout the Jewish Diaspora.

"As with the present process of our physical and spiritual homecoming to Israel-- which is still in the dynamic phase of evolving-- so the diverse expressions of rejoicing on this date are still in the process of growing and emerging. The character of this day, its content and quantity, will obtain to a large extent, and probably primarily, from the time-honoured sources of Jewish inspiration, from the genius of our religious fervor directed by our spiritual leaders, and from the manifestation of popular sentiment and custom... May we and all Israel soon see the day of complete redemption."

Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren added a message to the machzor in 1973:

The Spiritual Significance of Independence Day

The religious and spiritual nature of Independence Day in Israel and the Diaspora forms one of the basic issues of our outlook towards the State, because this historic event and the public's attitude toward it constitute a test for different approaches of various streams and factions of Jewry towards our revival as a nation and an independent state in the land of our forefathers.

In spite of the years which have passed since the establishment of the state and the liberation of the country in 1948-- and even after the glorious days of the appearance of God's supreme power among his people and their country during the Six Day War, when we were privileged to redeem God's city, the Temple Mount, Judah and Samaria, the Golan Heights and the Sinai desert, and to have witnessed the realization of the visions of the prophets of Israel-- Independence Day has not yet assumed any specific holy character, and no spiritual patterns have been formed for it.

Official ceremonies and demonstrations of power detract from the spirit of the day and do not aid in forming the character of Independence Day for future generations. Should we be successful in crowning this great day with glory and splendor for the sake of the Jewish people and the Torah, in creating in the individual, the family and the public inner elevation, we shall then have secured its eternal existence and its deep-rooting within the consciousness of the people.

In order to give Independence Day an original character according to the Torah, one first has to establish its Halachic foundations in the light of the Talmudic and Agadic sources, and to find out the commandments and warnings, prayers and eulogies, which are imposed upon us-- if there are any. In the light of this, we shall then be able to form for ourselves the general character of this national day,

More than in any other halachic ?, the answer to this ? depends on the general approach to our main issue, which is the place oof the State of Israel in the framework of the goals and destiny set forth by the prophets. On this is dependent the beginning, the essence and the solution of the problem, and in its light is found the direction for the solution of this halachic determination. For if the assumption is that the State of Israel, established in 1948, is a link in the chain of events leading to the future redemption of Israel, and constitutes a stage in the vision of the end of days (Messianic Era) and appears as the beginning of the redemption, in this search for the realization and fulfillment of part of the messianic goal-- as, for instance, the conquest of the land and the in-gathering from the Diaspora-- then all the halachic attitudes will be changed also in the discussion of Independence Day.

This is not the case if our approach to the events will be in the background of only rescue and local miracle... your Prayer Book should be appraised for having put Independence Day into the same category as all the other Jewish religious holidays...

Armin Krausz writes:

Israel's return to the Land of their forefathers is foretold in the Bible: "God your Lord will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed and you shall possess it" (Deut. 30:5). To rejoice on the anniversary of the day when the fulfillment of this promise began, and the emergence of the 3rd State of Israel was acknowledged by the nations of the earth, has therefore a Biblical connotation. It is well to recall that the return of Israel to their land is the beginning of the redemption. The complete redemption will come with the return of Israel to God, their Lord.

The service of Yom Haatzmaut is preceded by memorial prayers for victims of the Holocaust and soldiers who fell in The War of Independence. It closes with home observances, the Proclamation of Independence, Rabbinic Sayings and selected songs for the holiday.



ISRAEL'S #1 NATIONAL HOLIDAY, ISRAEL INDEPENDENCE DAY, (5 Iyar) DIFFERS FROM TRADITIONAL JEWISH HOLIDAYS-- they arise in a religious context, their celebration fixed by sacred codes and established custom; but renewed Jewish sovereignty in Israel, after a 1900 year hiatus, was quite limited in its de jure connection and commitment to the Torah of Israel; neither its Declaration of Independence, nor its de facto unofficial national anthem, Hatikva, specifically refer to God, leave alone the Torah (tho it refers to a yearning "Jewish soul"). On the other hand, Israel's unique achievements-- e.g. ingathering the diaspora, rebuilding the land and nation, reviving Hebrew, and defending Jews in danger- are among the highest goals of the Torah; they demand far more faith and sacrifice than most ritual, or even study. Its much easier to be a typical yeshiva student than a typical soldier (see Yonaton Netanyahu's letters). Should Jews then treat this holiday as a RELIGIOUS celebration? Ben Gurion, Secularists and Haredim, united, mostly say (or scream) "NO!" Religious Zionists stress "YES!", "ABSOLUTELY. Should the rest of the world join us? Many non-Jews would say "NO", tho they wish us well-- it is our holiday, not theirs. Others, who see renewed Jewish Israel as a boon to mankind and/or the beginning of the Messianic Age, would say "YES", "CERTAINLY".

I shared a beautiful and meaningful experience at Yad V'Shem yesterday-- an exhibit, initiated by Eric Saul, son of our friends Milton and Martha, honored religious and idealistic non-Jewish diplomats who risked their lives and careers to issue false passports and other documents, save many Jews from Hitler; their families came to Israel for the occasion, aided by the Simon Weisenthal Foundation, represented by Rabbis Avraham Cooper and Ephriam Zuroff. I clearly sensed that they felt that their honored parents and grandparents had done something of true worth, not only in saving lives, but in helping to bring about the revival of the Jewish people in The State of Israel.

CON-- THE OTHER JEWISH SIDE: Many secular Zionists and Haredim do not consciously see God's hand in this hard-earned nation and its military survival, unlike the Jewish response to Purim. Secular Zionist departure from Jewish tradition caused misgivings in the hearts of many observant Jews; Jewish nationhood is defined by our Divine mission-- to be a model holy folk in this land (Ex. 19:6). MOST haredim (Aguda, Habad, Peylim, Aish Hatora, Ohr Somaach, etc.) recognize the NEED for the state and its army and contribute much to it-- how much worse is any alternative! Yet they won't take a day off to CELEBRATE its existence with the rest of Israel (some American Haredi yeshivot make a token "celebration"-- give the boys a piece of cake and fly the flag for the donors!). They accentuate the half empty glass-- a majority of the Israeli public is not yet deeply involved in the Torah; nature abhors a vacuum, replacing it with Western rock, sport and video cultures or equally corrupt "higher" culture, e.g. vulgar ballet and theatre-- internal yerida and assimilation. Many hardeim avoid the army, tho many do serve; a small minority, Neturei Karta, would rather not have any Jewish state before the Messiah's Divine Monarchy-- vulgar comparisons of Zionism and Nazism are scrawled on Meah Shearim walls and Israeli flags burnt at Toldot Aharon. SOME extreme haredim even support the devil-- the PLO-- murderers of Jewish children.

PRO: Jewish Celebration, besides joy, also reflects gratitude-- together with awe of one's ultimate origins, it's the foundation of all religious experience; we start with our parents-- we owe them an unpayable debt, life itself; we must respect their essence, perpetuated in ourselves, even if not properly or fully developed by them (Rav J. B. Soloveichik on the Decalogue). When even one town is saved, the survivors and their descendents everywhere must gratefully celebrate the event yearly, as Purim Katan. If the Torah commands the celebration of leaving servitude for freedom, how much more going from death to life-- says Chatam Sofer, who so celebrated Frankfurt's deliverance; in some places, they also said Hallel on Purim Katan; cf. the modern celebration of the 19th of Kislav, a Chabad holiday, and Lag B'Omer. Salvation from physical destruction and spiritual assimilation of millions of Jews by the State of Israel is far more significant. Sofer also notes that "be holy" is commanded before all the Jews in Lev. 19:1-- Jewish holiness is not solitary prayer and meditation, but active communal involvement. Thus Rav M. Roth (Kol Mevasar 21), as Rav Goren, ruled that Hallel be said with a blessing, and that the shehecheyanu blessing be recited, on Independence Day. Blessing God upon the annual celebration of His and our restoration of the land and people of Israel is at least as important as doing so upon eating a piece of new seasonal fru

Rav Roth writes: "It thus becomes self-evident in our case, which affects the community of Israel in its entirety, and is a case of deliverance from slavery into freedom-- for we have been redeemed from subjection to other powers, having become a free people and attained independence; we have also been rescued from death, for we were delivered from the hands of our enemies, who rose up against us to destroy us-- that we are surely duty bound to fix a festive day. And it is good timing to have fixed this very day, on which the major part of the miracle occurred, when we became free from (political) subjugation by the Declaration of Independence".

When the recital of this blessing was debated in London's St. John's Wood Great Synagogue, a visiting Jewish Quarter resident exploded: "You don't question reciting the blessing on a new pair of pants, only on the re-emergence of Israel!" After a short shocked silence, one properly pious Brit recovered his aplomb and responded: "You mean trousers, don't you!". Rav Gorin permitted shaving and haircuts on Yom Haatzmaut, in what is otherwise a mourning period. Those Jews who aren't even willing to pray openly for the welfare of the State of Israel and its army, who protect them, lack gratitude, a basic religious value-- their ancestors prayed for every drunken czar! Check out your own minyan! God wants us to respond to His great miracles after the Shulchan Aruch too. KiTov included Independence Day in Sefer Hatodaah, but only in the English edition; haredim buy many of his Hebrew books, but they're beginning to find out just who he really was-- an ardent religious Zionist-- and banning his books.

Secular Zionists (other than leftist PLO sympathizers, often self-hating Jews) celebrate Israel Independence Day without reservations; the secular Zionist dream has been achieved-- a free Jewish state, a strong army, and a reasonably prosperous economy, despite many problems. Yet Moshe refused to continue Israel's desert trek when God promised the Jews these very things (33:15-6); without His Manifest Presence in Israel, there was no unique Jewish mission worthy of sacrifice. Many young secular Israelis "logically" live in LA or LI, satisfying more of their secular aspirations. Some even intermarry with kibbutz volunteers and wind up in Scandanavia, etc.

Religious Zionists have a more subtle outlook-- they accentuate the positive, tho keenly aware that the glass is still only half full-- true, there's a long way to go toward our ideal Israel; yet we can't ignore a fantastic miracle-- that we're now on the way at Messianic dawn! The physical foundation is now being laid for a great outflow of spirit, to bring the whole world back to Eden. Even now, only in Israel does radio open with Shma, does TV announce the day of the omer, does a secular newspaper discuss the weekly Torah portion. Only here do so high a percentage of Jews observe Yom Kippur and refrain from bread on Pesach. Only here are so many Jews observant (20-30%?), as Judaism is in the midst of upheaval, changing from a medieval religion of compulsion to a modern faith of choice (see "Return To Tradition", Danziger); few Israeli Jews (1%?) intermarry. We pray daily that God make the horn of salvation GROW, AS A PLANT-- imperceptibly, yet the result of a great life force, whose overall progress cannot be stopped; God will complete that Great Return, which He's already begun (Rav A. Kook). Nice people celebrate their kids' birthdays, despite their shortcomings; so we celebrated Pesach, tho the Jews still clung to Egypt and its idols-- they were on the way! We soon celebrate Shavuos, the giving of the Torah-- its IMMEDIATE result was the golden calf. Tho only the Cohen Gadol could enter the holy of holies, a common laborer could build it-- so any Jew building the Holy Land is fulfilling a sacred duty, regardless of his formal religious commitment (Rav A. Kook). So--

CHASTISE CAREFULLY!: RAV SHALOM GOLD, in trying to see Peres' good side too, despite his strong disagreements, explored Rav Kook's letters (541, 551) on reproving secular Zionists, who were so lacking in holiness. Religious Jews must follow Rashi, who begins his commentary on Deuteronomy with Moshe's double criteria for criticizing sinful Israel: 1) they must constantly be treated with great respect, acknowledging both their actual and potential goodness and greatness. 2) he first does something significant for them, in their own terms, by beginning the conquest of Israel, destroying Amorite warlords Sichon and Og; only then does he criticize them-- cf. outstanding hesder soldiers.

Per Lev. Raba, 33:5, righteous Aviya (called sinful Aviyam in 1K15; only Y'ruvum's son is called Aviya in 1K14; Aviya is Hezekiah's ma in 2Ch29:1), whose 400,000 men defeated wicked Y'ruvum's 800,000, died 3 years before Y'ruvum (2Ch13:20)! Why?-- per Rav Yochanan, Aviya sinned in reviling idolatrous, but innately righteous, Israel in public for their golden calves (ibid 8); as secular Zionists, they had a holy Jewish essence and dedication to their people and land, howbeit distorted by sin. Resh Lakish said Aviya sinned when he insulted the heretical prophet Achiya Hashiloni, by calling him a base fellow (ibid 7; cf. Orthodox denunciations of heretical Reform and Conservative scholars). But the rabbis said he died for not destroying the idolatrous objects which came into his possession-- the calf in Bethel (ibid 19, joined to 1K12:29). The midrash closes with the moral of the story, the aim of its interpretation of the Biblical passage, whether correct or not* :

"May we not then conclude a fortiori: If a king, owing to his having wronged with words a king like himself, was punished according to Scripture, how much more so anyone else who wrongs his neighbor with words (e.g. those who call our leaders "traitors", etc.)!

* 13:21 implies that God killed Y'ruvum in 13:20, who was survived by Aviya. But 1K8-9 implies that Y'ruvum survived Aviyam. In any event, one doesn't question the accuracy of such midrashic exegesis, as the moral, not the exegetic method, is the name of the game; but the rabbis had to deliver their morals in the genre and context of their weekly midrash, exploration, of the Bible, to somehow slip them in, per Rav Y. Hadari. So they created unlikely, but enlightening gripping, tales, e.g. Rachel hiding under Yaakov and Leah's marital bed, playing ventriloquist, where they stress the importance of not embarrassing anyone, regardless of the cost.

A RELIGIOUS YOM ATZMAUT features special prayers, relevant Torah study, and festivity- see Rinat Israel or the WZO Yom HaAtzma'ut Siddurim. Haredi Zealots have ripped the prayers for the State and Tzahal out of most of the few Zionist prayer books at the Wall. The Ministry of Religions should post large attractive copies of these prayers at the Wall, high enough that-- "our violent brethren not reach them, by standing on chairs, which they've thrown at women, singing their prayers".

Contrast the holy Yom Haatzmaut joy of a hesder yeshiva or Machon Meir with cheap secular revelry, e.g. hitting people with plastic hammers. Even a day at the beach or in the forest (or a classical music concert) lacks Jewish focus. The many secular Jews who seek depth and meaning in Zionism must enter the portals of Torah-- but to sanctify Israeli life, not replace it-- see Hugh Nissenson's probing and penetrating tales of kibbutz life, mentality and morality.

Shmuel (Ber. 34b, Shab. 63a) says Jewish sovereignty in Israel ushers in the messianic age. Then Jews will be able to pursue their Torah mission in peace. Maimonides (Teshuva 9:2, Mel. 12, Mish. San. 10) would TENTATIVELY accept such a Political Meshiach, subject to the remaining Messianic goals being realized-- R. Akiva thought military star Bar Kochba was Meshiach, until he became Bar Koziba, "the disappointment", harbinger of our long exile-- should rabbis get involved in politics? Rav Yosef Soloveichik said no-- it's simply not their field; his brother, Rav Aharon, disagreed, but was unable to sway Rabin. Without a State of Israel, the great yeshivos of Jewish restoration, e.g. Aish Hatorah and Ohr Somaach, couldn't function. May they soon gratefully lead the public religious celebration of its existence.

Many secular Israelis are turned-off to religion by those haredim who don't share Israel's national identity and burdens, especially military. Jonathan Rosenblum in last Friday's Post ("An enemy everyone can hate", 4/24/98) bemoans the extremely negative public reaction to haredim, without even asking himself why and giving the obvious answers, indeed expressed on the same page by astute and balanced Prof. Gerald Steinberg ("IDF and the haredim"). Yet we can also understand Yeshiva students-- their religious sensibilities are assailed by the profane army atmosphere (tho many haredim from Habad, Klosenberg, etc. do eventually serve). The problem is their leaders-- no Haredi group has yet formed the equivalent of Yeshivat Hesder. Shas and Degel Hatora may be first. Interior Minister Deri candidly admitted that only this will improve their poor civic reputation. Meanwhile, they'll just fight each other instead of Israel's enemies-- cf. former election days in Bnei Brak, Satmar vs. Chabad, and Viznitz the Father vs. Viznitz the Son. Perhaps Yeshivot Hesder should initiate programs for haredi students too.

Some Orthodox rabbis, e.g. Riskin, Spero, Rakefet, Hacohen, propose that the government draft yeshiva students into religious units, exempting only outstanding scholars. This would invigorate those young haredim who really don't have the ability or inclination to study seriously; presently some vent their frustration and anger in demonstrations and internecine warfare, relieving their ennui, boredom and bachelorhood with smoking, sweets, and "action" films at our center-- their motto, in selecting films, is: "Make War, Not Love". But, as I try to explain to them, they don't really want "action", e.g. Tzahal, only to watch others' "action"; they resemble a young lady. desperately seeking romance, who reads novels to satisfy her yearning. They get the message.

An American who makes aliya ultimately benefits the U.S. too: IT SHALL BE AT THE END OF DAYS-- THE MOUNTAIN OF GOD'S HOUSE SHALL BE ESTABLISHED ON THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAINS... (possibly Har Chatzor, highest mountain in the region, near Bet El, site of Yaakov's "House of God"-- see Artscroll Ezekiel 40-48) ALL THE NATIONS SHALL STREAM TO IT. GREAT PEOPLES WILL ADVANCE AND SAY: "GO, LET'S RISE TO THE MOUNTAIN OF GOD, TO THE HOUSE OF YAAKOV'S GOD-- HE'LL TEACH US (not v.v., a message to missionaries; SOME) OF HIS WAYS (the 7 laws of Noach? Not to pray to men, only to God?), AND WE'LL GO IN HIS PATHS"-- FOR TORAH SHALL EMERGE FROM ZION AND GOD'S WORD FROM JERUSALEM (Isaiah 2:2-3; cf. Micha 4).

So our ULTIMATE HOPE of thousands of years is not JUST "TO BE A FREE PEOPLE, am chafshi, IN OUR LAND". This must also lead to-- "TO BE A HOLY NATION, am kadosh, IN OUR LAND" (see our bumper sticker!). Promote this improved last refrain of Hatikva! Only so shall we awaken all mankind, starting with the Arabs. Then the whole world will celebrate Israel Independence Day-- the beginning of their redemption too! This indeed is the Bible's leitmotif--


After Creation, Divine Image universal man winds up a secular failure; he vacillates between pleasure and power trips-- e.g. Eve and Cain, who go public via Noah's Flood and Babel's Tower. God then decides that some descendants of one great man, Avraham-- who tried to be what Adam should have been, to fully develop his Divine Image-- shall form a model nation, to bring everyone back to the tree of life (Torah) in Eden. First comes Zionism-- he must leave civilized Babylonia for primitive Canaan, subject of 3 Divine teachings: 1) It's given to the Jewish people; there they're to become both a spiritual center-- A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS-- and a model of holiness in every realm of human endeavor-- A HOLY NATION (Ex. 19:6). They're given 613 commandments, and are to teach basic morality, the 7 Principles of Noach, to the other nations. 2) God will really bless Israel in Israel; if, however, they don't do their job, curses will multiply, ending in exile-- Diaspora Jews won't be able to fully express their Jewish selves, to use Jewish power to perfect the world, despite prosperity (see Ps. 137 below). The Land will remain desolate, not yielding itself to any other people. 3) After millennia of widespread dispersion, God will return a revived Israel to revive their land. They'll get their act together and happily lead humanity, their congregation, back to themselves and Eden (see Ps. 126)-- no more pleasure orgies and power trips. A few verses to illustrate each principle:

1) GOD SAID TO AVRAM: "GO TOWARD (or FOR) YOURSELF, AWAY FROM YOUR LAND, YOUR BIRTHPLACE, AND YOUR FATHER'S HOUSE, TO THE LAND WHICH I WILL SHOW YOU" (indescribable? Gen. 12:1). We can also translate: "...TO THE LAND WHERE I SHALL APPEAR TO YOU". God only APPEARS to him in Israel (12:7); there his descendants will achieve his destiny-- I'LL MAKE YOU A GREAT NATION, BLESS YOU AND MAKE YOUR NAME (essence) GREAT AND YOU WILL (or SHOULD BE) BE A BLESSING (12:2). ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH WILL BE BLESSED THRU YOU (12:3). God reveals Himself at Sh'chem, saying: I'LL GIVE THIS LAND TO YOUR DESCENDANTS (12:7; sometimes only the children of olim can be true Israelis). AND-GOD SAID TO AVRAM AFTER LOT SEPARATED FROM HIM: "PLEASE LIFT UP YOUR EYES (have deep spiritual insight?) AND SEE FROM THE PLACE WHERE YOU ARE (where else?-- perhaps the meaning is from your new perspective-- you can now appreciate Israel over Babylonia & S'dom) NORTH AND SOUTH AND EAST AND WEST. FOR ALL THE LAND WHICH YOU SEE, I'LL GIVE YOU AND YOUR SEED FOREVER (perhaps only if his insight permeates it; cf. Sinai, first left to moral abandon, then returned to Egypt); AND I'LL MAKE YOUR SEED AS THE DUST OF THE EARTH... ARISE, TRAVERSE THE LAND, TO ITS LENGTH AND TO ITS WIDTH, THAT I'LL GIVE IT TO YOU. Israelis pioneer and hike! (13:14-17). +

Avraham moved southward, i.e. from material, toward spiritual, orientation-- the tabernacle table, symbolizing kingship, material mastery, was in the north; the menorah, symbol of wisdom, was in the south (B.B. 25b, Munk). The Zohar claims that his 2nd altar was at the Temple site; there he best experienced God's Presence and started his preaching mission. God agrees with Sara that Avraham's mocking son, Yishmael, progenitor of the Arabs, now be sent away (temporarily?), so that Yitzchak can develop properly-- he's to take over the land promised to Avraham, which he may never leave (Gen. 24:6; the Koran distorts God's word here, changing Yitzchak into Yishmael; but some Islamic traditions recognize that Yitzchak was also sacrificed, per Abdul Palazzi, ) ...FOR TO YOU AND YOUR SEED I'LL GIVE ALL OF THESE LANDS... AND ALL NATIONS OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED THRU YOUR SEED (26:2-4). Finally, the holy land and blessings are transmitted to his son, Yaakov, and his descendants; his other son, Esav, progenitor of Rome, The Church, and Western Civilization, goes off to Seir-- HE SAID (to Yaakov): "I'M GOD, LORD OF AVRAHAM, YOUR FATHER, AND OF YITZCHAK-- THIS LAND UPON WHICH YOU LIE, I'LL GIVE TO YOU AND YOUR DESCENDANTS... AND ALL FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED THRU YOU AND YOUR DESCENDANTS... I WILL RETURN YOU TO THIS LAND (28:13-15)-- God returns to Man in 3 steps and/or to 3 archetypal personalities-- as the Lord of Avraham, the Lord of Yitzchak, and the Lord of Yaakov-- it's coming true now!

2) Lev. 26:3ff: IF YOU (Israel) WILL WALK IN MY STATUTES... I'LL GIVE YOUR RAINS IN THEIR SEASON AND THE LAND WILL YIELD ITS PRODUCE... YOU'LL EAT YOUR BREAD WITH SATISFACTION AND DWELL SECURELY IN YOUR LAND... NO SWORD SHALL (even) PASS THROUGH YOUR LAND... YOUR ENEMIES SHALL FALL BY YOUR SWORD. I'LL TURN TO YOU AND MULTIPLY YOU AND MAKE YOU GREAT AND ESTABLISH MY COVENANT (2 way) WITH YOU-- Divine contact and resultant higher return may FOLLOW material and military success. YOU'LL EAT WELL-AGED FOOD AND DISCARD OLD FOR NEW-- you'll have enough wine to age some and not have to nurse worn-out things (or concepts!-- vs. Chazan Ish, who just, I hope, quipped: "Newness is forbidden by the Torah"). I'LL PLACE MY DWELLING IN YOUR MIDST AND MY SOUL SHALL NOT ABHOR YOU-- this further deepening of God-Israel relations confirms Rav Kook's view that the messianic era is a gradual process. I'LL STROLL IN YOUR MIDST (Rashi: as friends, in Eden), I'LL BE YOUR LORD AND YOU'LL BE MY PEOPLE-- the Jews lead the messianic era! I'M GOD, YOUR LORD, WHO TOOK YOU OUT OF EGYPT, FROM BEING SLAVES TO THEM; I BROKE THE BANDS OF YOUR YOKE AND LED YOU FORTH UPRIGHT.

Next comes a long curse-- worse and worse as Jews drift further and further from God and Torah. Cool indifference gradually degenerates into disdain, perhaps arising out of guilt for the indifference (cf. sour grapes syndrome, interpersonal relationships-- see Rav Kanotopsky's analysis of Rambam's teaching on M'tzora in our M'tzora study). Formal rejection of the commandments and Israel's unique covenantal burden results in physical and emotional distress, as the enemy consumes our produce (cf. the fate of assimilated German Jewry's huge contribution to Germany). Undefined anxiety will prevail, Israel a vassal to its neighbors (cf. the Oslo accord). Internal enemies will proclaim that other nations will only accept Jews-without-Judaism (Hirsch, cf. 20th Century Canaanites, Meretz). God will break the pride of Israel's military power (26:19; cf. Gaza). If there's no repentance, the curse increases sevenfold. Wild animals will ravage the unproductive land.

The next "7 times worse" stage is complete enemy conquest, plague, and starvation, ending in dispersed exile. THEN THE LAND WILL BE SATISFIED FOR ITS SABBATICAL YEARS, DURING ALL ITS YEARS OF DESOLATION, WHILE YOU'RE IN THE LAND OF YOUR ENEMIES (Esav & Yishmael? Westchester County, Golders Green, and Teheran?) ...THAT SHE DIDN'T REST IN YOUR SABBATHS WHEN YOU WERE DWELLING THERE (26:34-5). Violation of the Torah's sabbatical years (not today's doubtful rabbinic ones?), living proclamation of God's sovereignty over the land, leads to abandonment of the whole Torah, then exile. The galut Jew will be stalked by assimilation, destruction, and groundless fear. Read the gripping sad story of how the assimilated Jewish Establishment and its communal organizations abandoned poor old Jews to robbery, muggings, murder and the destruction of their old warm inner-city neighborhoods in "The Death of an American Jewish Community-- A Tragedy of Good Intentions", by Hillel Levine and Lawrence Harmon; only Rabbi Marvin Antelman, who, like me, started out in Camden, N.J., and now lives in Israel (Rechovot), tried to protect Boston's old Jewish residents, organizing patrols of the Jewish Defense League, guided by Meir Kahana; both spoke out against racism at that time, and required psychological testing of those working with them.

I, along with a group of MIT students, joined the patrols, praised by the Bostoner Rebbe, but was later turned off to JDL by Kahana's violent hate tactics and praise of murder; but I regained some sympathy for him after reading Robert Friedman's critical biography, "The False Prophet : Rabbi Meir Kahane-- From FBI Informant to Knesset Member" (missing from both H.U. libraries); he shows some of the great emotional pressures on Kahana, e.g. early severe illness, family, school and social difficulties, and poverty.

BACK TO THE BIBLE: Eventually Israel will confess their wrong, but not really repent. God then increases their hardship, until they bend their insensitive (uncircumcised) heart to God's will (from fear, not love), and redeems them. Per Ramban, this refers to the short Babylonian exile and redemption, when a small number returned to Israel; Deut. 28 refers to our long 1900 year exile-- after it, our hearts will be "circumcised", opened to really love God and understand the secrets of His Torah, ending its conflicts with our thoughts and feelings (Rav Kanotopsky and Torah Ohr).

Ps. 137: HOW CAN WE SING GOD'S SONG ON ALIEN SOIL? (e.g. Chassidic Music Festivals and Yeshivas in the U.S.). IF I FORGET YOU, JERUSALEM, LET MY RIGHT HAND BE FORGOTTEN (true concentrated and effective Jewish power must be connected to Israel); LET MY TONGUE CLEAVE TO MY MOUTH IF I REMEMBER YOU NOT (the Jewish message to the world is connected to, and will only be fully broadcast from, Israel-- by satellite and Internet?), IF I DON'T PLACE JERUSALEM ABOVE MY HIGHEST JOY.

3) IT WILL BE, BECAUSE (or FINALLY) YOU (Pl.) SHALL SENSITIVELY HEED THESE LAWS, GUARD THEM, AND KEEP THEM-- GOD WILL PRESERVE FOR YOU THE COVENANT AND KINDNESS WHICH HE PROMISED YOUR FATHERS (it is always open-- when Israel will keep its part; so God preserves for man the way to the tree of life, awaiting his return-- Gen. 3:24, per Rav JBS). HE'LL LOVE, BLESS, AND MULTIPLY YOU; HE'LL BLESS THE FRUIT OF YOUR WOMB AND THE FRUIT OF YOUR LAND... ON THE EARTH (not just a mystical Israel) WHICH HE PROMISED YOUR FATHERS TO GIVE TO YOU (Deut. 7:12-3).

ISAIAH 40:27-41:16 predicts a selfish Godless UN, which will ultimately fail (cf. Bosnians, Kurds); true human unity will only come from Israel. The misunderstood Jews are discouraged by a cruel world-- it's so long until God's promises begin to be fulfilled. Isaiah reminds them of their eventual victory over all nations, as that of Avraham of yore; like him, they don't conquer to exploit, but to be a blessing to all. He and all who so cleave to Divine hope have inexhaustible energy, despite lack of success (M. Hirsch). "...YOU'LL REJOICE IN GOD AND PRAISE YOURSELF IN HE WHO MAKES ISRAEL HOLY... WHEN GOD WILL HAVE COMFORTED ZION, HE WILL HAVE COMFORTED ALL THEIR RUINS AND MADE HER DESERT (the Negev?) AS EDEN, AND HER WILDERNESS AS A GARDEN OF GOD. JOY AND GLADNESS WILL BE FOUND IN HER, THANKSGIVING AND THE VOICE OF SONG (51:3-- cf. Ps. 126)".

ISAIAH 60:1-22 depicts our universal Messianic triumph, AFTER true return to God: ARISE, SHINE! FOR YOUR LIGHT HAS ARRIVED AND THE GLORY OF GOD SHINES UPON YOU (Israel, spiritual university of a world in existential despair)... NATIONS SHALL WALK TOWARD YOUR LIGHT... YOUR SONS WILL COME FROM FAR OFF (US, USSR, etc.-- once they see the non-Jews come?)... FOR THE NATION AND GOVERNMENT THAT WON'T SERVE YOU WILL BE LOST... THE SONS OF THOSE WHO DESPISED YOU SHALL COME BOWING TO YOU (missionaries to Ben Noach yeshivot, monks to get married) ... VIOLENCE SHALL NO LONGER BE HEARD IN YOUR LAND... GOD WILL BE YOUR ETERNAL LIGHT (not "Nature")... AND YOUR PEOPLE-- ALL OF THEM RIGHTEOUS-- SHALL INHERIT THE LAND, BLOSSOM OF MY PLANTING... TO MAKE THEMSELVES TRULY GLORIOUS... I, GOD, WITHIN THE APPOINTED TIME (will save an unworthy world, as at Exodus OR--), WILL SPEED IT UP! (--if Israel &/or the world is worthy; or "God will hurry, once the time's come"-- see M. Hirsch). May it be soon!

DEUT. 28.1: IT'LL BE, IF YOU'LL REALLY LISTEN-- YOU'LL REALLY LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF GOD YOUR LORD... R. Yudan said: "Whoever listens to the voice of Torah in this world will merit listening to THE VOICE OF JOY AND THE VOICE OF GLADNESS, THE VOICE OF BRIDEGROOM, THE VOICE OF BRIDE" (in the messianic age, God & Israel reunited. Jer. 33:11; Midrash Raba)

EZEKIEL 37:15-28 predicts the Israeli Messianic Union of Yehuda and his comrades-- the children of Israel-- with Yosef, Efrayim, and his comrades-- the entire house of Israel. Two types of Jews, called "Yehudah" and "Efrayim", are portrayed as antagonistic, tho Ezekiel now speaks after Efrayim's exile to Assyria. M. Hirsch says that "Efrayim" here is a metaphor for politically savvy, outgoing, generous, but religiously assimilationist, Jews; they try to substitute political alliances with other nations for Divine protection, which only comes with Torah observance. His "friends" finally reject him-- Hosea 13:15, 7:8, 8:8; cf. (naive?) Herman Cohen's plea for all Jews to adulate Germany, the source of contemporary culture and intellect, the realization of all Jewish ideals!!.

"Yehuda", the orthodox Jewish archetype, acknowledged the rule of Torah and kept many of its ritual laws. However, he lacked a deep faith connection to God, needed for the harder part of Torah-- to freely and generously relate to others with 100% integrity, lack of envy, and love. He turns Torah into magical tribal rituals, not an edifying inner cosmic experience (Is. 29:11ff-- cf. magic red string bracelets). First God will bring both types back to Israel as a united nation. They'll be refined by the hand of the prophet; they'll then form a Divine model nation, wherein God will dwell, to redeem all mankind.

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"In Israel, the Holy Spirit bursts forth on every scholar... of the Torah per se... it's impossible to breathe the air of sanctity in an atmosphere of defilement in another land". This spirit remains operative, even when one leaves Israel INVOLUNTARILY.

Adam was created on Mt. Moriah, Israeli earth forming his head (San. 38). God said: "Israel is beloved by me and the people of Israel are beloved by me-- I'll bring My beloved Israel to My beloved land" (Gen. Raba 23). R. Shimon b. Yochai says: "The Holy One blessed be He gave Israel 3 good gifts-- Torah, the Land of Israel, and the world to come; all were only given together with great trials (Ber. 5a)". "3 things are only given conditionally-- the land of Israel, the Temple, & the Davidic royal dynasty (Michelta Yitro-- cf. our modern claims to the land)". Our rabbis taught: "Let one always dwell in the land of Israel, even in a predominantly heathen town, rather than dwelling abroad, even in a basically Jewish city-- for one who dwells in Israel is compared to one with God, whereas one who dwells in the diaspora-- it's as if he has no God! (Ket. 110B)"-- "I'LL GIVE THE LAND OF YOUR WANDERINGS TO YOU AND YOUR SEED AFTER YOU-- THE ENTIRE LAND OF CANAAN-- ...AND I'LL BE TO THEM A GOD". Rav Antelman unsuccessfully tried to get Boston's suffering inner-city Jews to make aliya.

R. Yudan said: "If your children enter the land, they'll accept my Lordship: if not, they won't (Ber. Rab. 46)"; Jews eventually assimilate abroad-- Marx comes from Rashi, Rosa Luxemburg from Pnei Yehoshua. R. Elazer said-- "Anyone living in the land of Israel is naturally without sin (unless he really tries, perhaps deserving greater punishment!-- Ket. 111a)". "YOU'LL DWELL SECURELY IN YOUR LAND (Lev. 26:5)"-- in your land, you'll dwell in security, but never outside it (cf. restless Jews, ADL; Sifra B'chukosai).

D. ISRAEL AND THE JEWS IN LATER WRITINGS: Our great sages and saints continually stressed the centrality of the land of Israel to the people of Israel. Ohr Hachayim (Tsav) describes it as the only pure land-- the remains of the Jewish people, burnt in a sacrificial furnace thruout the long night of history, shall be taken there at Messianic dawn. Avraham's sacrificial altars represent sacrificial motifs of his life (Rav JBS, in "THE RAV SPEAKS"). The first is his abrupt break with his land and identity to make aliya. Once in Israel, settlement itself proves a sacrifice (cf. the musaf prayer: "...THAT YOU BRING US UP TO OUR LAND AND PLANT US IN OUR BORDERS, AND THERE WE'LL BRING SACRIFICES BEFORE YOU, USUAL AND EXTRAORDINARY...")-- he's greeted by economic crisis (famine) and war (the acts of the fathers are a guide to the children). Israel is good for its inhabitants, who have to work hard because its not so rich, and broadening of their personalities, because its so variegated within a narrow hikeable area. Anyone, even those Zionist pioneers who were anti-religious on a conscious level, automatically acquires a share in Divinity when he builds the altar of sacrifice of resettling Eretz Yisrael. God's called Lord of the Land, the Lord of (belonging to) Avraham.

As Rav A. Y. Kook proclaimed, the unconscious holiness acquired with aliya would eventually emerge (cf. today)-- after sustenance and self defense, ignored in the overly spiritual exile, were achieved, a great sense of emptiness would be felt by the outwardly secular Israeli Jew (or his kids); at heart, a "soul person", he'll then blend body and soul thru Torah (despite detours to India, Nepal, and Tibet), becoming a model for all men (cf. Uri Zohar, Adin Steinsaltz).

Rav M. Lewittes (in "The Light of Redemption", p. 15) culls the 9 stages of Redemption from the 18 Amida Benedictions**. A partial fulfillment of the prophecies has already occurred, total Galut (Exile) transformed into Atchalta D'Geula, the beginning of redemption, from 5 Iyar, 5708 (1948). Complete redemption is now a Divine challenge and opportunity, per Rambam above. The 6 Day War miracle should also be celebrated, on Yom Yerushalayim. Religious ritual must reflect these changes-- first the Psalmist says: "FROM GOD THIS HAS COME, IT'S MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES"; he then concludes: "THIS IS THE DAY GOD'S MADE-- LET'S BE HAPPY AND REJOICE IN IT". We must emulate God, Who "rejoices in his works", both in nature and history.


But Prof. Uriel Simon, a few days ago, at Pardes, contrasted the passionate "midrash" of early secular Zionists, who ardently adopted the Bible, while editing out God, with the ignorance and ignoring of the Bible by their descendants, who take only the "pshat", w/o midrashic editing-- they then truthfully conclude that it is a religious work, opposed to their weltanschauung, and leave it to the religious. In response to my most relevant irrelevant ?, Prof. Simon said that Bar Ilan University does teach the Torah itself as part of their Bible Studies Department, but only from a traditional non-critical viewpoint, as the word of God (he disagrees with this approach); but they do teach the rest of Tanach critically, and those who wish to apply the critical method learnt at Bar Ilan to the Torah itself go on to heretical institutions, e.g. H.U., H.U.C., J.T.S. and T.A.U. Of course, these institutions have few students of Bible-- if it is not taken as the word of God, why bother with it, when so many exciting careers are available today? Ultimately, their "critical" pseudo-scientific academic approach leads to the end of Judaism, the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Only the observant zionist community retains Ben Gurion's passionate attachment to the Tanach; the secular ignore it and the haredim only view it out of context via a talmudic prism.


Jews must be kind and just leaders. Yishmael will be the first to follow Israel in God's Torah, in the end of days-- when the Jews will listen to God, the Arabs will listen to them. The Zohar (32a), however, states that Yishmael's descendants will occupy Israel until the Jews return, followed by major wars with Edom. A 3 month W.W. will culminate in the destruction of the power structure of Edom and Yishmael; then the world shall be directed by Yisrael's supernal power.

E. "THE FOUNDING FATHERS OF ISRAEL" (Gershon Winer) explores the doubts and affirmations, universal and Hebraic, of 12 historic personalities, regarded as the ideologues of the Zionist movement, and their impact on its triumph-- contemporary Israel. Their goal was the ingathering of the children of Israel from their dispersion to their God-promised homeland-- to restore Israel's desert wilderness to a land of milk and honey. Jews were now to go to fully live, not just to die, in the holy land, howbeit with blood, sweat, and tears.

"Israel's antecedents were the religious ideals and institutions of a dispersed people, the cataclysmic events of the preceding 100 years..., 19th & 20th international political developments, heroic pioneer movements and trail-blazing individuals, the philosophic speculation and creative experimentation of men of genius, and the outcome of specific struggles and momentous crises. Tho comparatively small in area and population, the land of Israel... has been both the centrifugal and centripetal force for world Jewry-- when Israel was the romance of the past and the dream of the future, and now that it has become a reality of the present.

A people that has made a signal contribution to the spiritual growth of mankind merits singular attention when it reconstitutes itself on its ancient soil and resumes the cultivation of human and universal values. Out of the matrix of a new and vibrant society, there may come innovations and insights that will benefit all civilization. Certainly, the one bastion of democracy in Middle East despotism, the one island of enlightenment in a Levantine sea of ignorance and strife (but cf. Meah Shearim), is destined to benefit its geographic periphery... the Jew on the American scene... remains knowingly or unwittingly conditioned by the Zionist vision, as revealed and realized in Israel today... The stigma of homelessness is replaced by the banner of national sovereignty."

But 11 of Winer's 12 thinkers appealed only to peripheral secular elements***. Only mystic Rav A. Y. Kook (1865-1935), first Chief Rabbi of Palestine, appealed to the religious masses (p. 225ff). Only he commanded enough esteem for a fruitful fusion of Orthodoxy and Zionism-- "The source of Zionism is that supreme sacred source, the Holy Writ, which imparts to it the depth and glory of tradition. A Holy Nation... is awakening from its long sleep and returning to its rightful habitat". "The old is to be renewed and the new sanctified". Zionism gives the unique opportunity for a religious revival of unprecedented scope, possible only in a Jewish State (only there is normal life compatible with the Jewish faith; elsewhere, one has to choose between being fully Jewish OR fully at one with his society-- YF).

Kook saw each nationalism as making its unique contribution to the human mosaic, all directed and unified by the Jewish Nation (see Olot Riah 1)-- "It's impossible to reach a condition of moral perfection without the wholehearted love of one's nation". "We began to say something important to ourselves and the world and we've not concluded it yet". "In this world, the essence of all existence flows into the Israelite nation; into its materiality, no less than into its spirituality; into its history, no less than into its faith". "I love all. I cannot help loving individuals, all peoples. From the bottom of my being, I wish the glory of all, the perfection of all. My love of Israel is deeper and more glowing, but my inner wish spreads the might of my love over all. I do not have to force myself to this feeling of love; it issues directly from the sacred depths of wisdom, from the divine soul" (only Rav Kook and Rav Nachman of Breslav so bared their souls; Jews usually don't broadcast their most intimate feelings, their holy of holies-- Rav JBS). Per Kook, Zionism was an antidote for abrasive secularism, surpassing it in its humanistic and humanitarian thrust. It established the human condition for harmonious involvement, meaningful expression, and spiritual development of men and women, joined together by inspired endeavor to realize Divine promise and human fulfillment (See also Herbert Weiner's THE WILD GOATS OF EIN GEDI and 8 1/2 MYSTICS for connections of The Land of Israel with religious faith).

** 1) surcease from Diaspora persecution. 2) restored fertility in Israel. 3) Ingathering of exiles. 4) re-establishment of governmental institutions. 5) victory over the enemies of redemption. 6) The reward of the righteous who kept faith. 7) The rebuilding of Jerusalem. 8) The Davidic monarchy. 9) Rebuilding of the Temple.

*** Moshe Hess, dreamer-revolutionary; Peretz Smolenskin, novelist-essayist; Leon Pinsker, doctor-humanitarian; Eliezer ben Yehuda, linguist; Theodor Herzl, charismatic leader and statesman; Ahad Ha'am, philosopher; Micha Berdichevsky, novelist-atheist; Yosef C. Brenner, author-rebel; A.D. Gordon, pioneer-idealist; Nachum Syrkin, socialist, and Ber Borochov, Marxist-theorist; Winer would today add Jabotinsky.

Unlike Rav Kook, Alan Dershowitz proclaimed himself, his own conscience, rather than God, as the ultimate arbitrator of right and wrong; he fails to distinguish the agonized outpourings and prayers of Avraham, Moshe and the Berditchiver Rebbe to God from their final obedience to His commands, regardless of their feelings. Dershowitz spoke last night at Reform Cong. Kol Hanishama, which shares his outlook (cf, the medieval Shas radio station, Kol Hanishama, with quite a different soul-set). The Women in Green held a demonstration outside the synagogue, condemning the sponsor, The Rabbis For Human Rights; they claimed that these left wing, mostly reform, rabbis helped the Arabs attack Jewish settlers and their property; the rabbis denied the charge. The Women held placards up to the windows and passed out literature to attendees, which did not seriously disrupt the evening; but they also kept shouting outside, disturbing those inside, trying to hear the lecture; this rude fascist tactic is the kind of thing which destroys our social structure, assuming the right to forcefully impose one's views upon others and stop them from doing their own thing-- cf. the obstructing of roads by Zo Artzenu and Shalom Achshav. The Women In Green would have been far more humble and effective had they protested silently, as do the Women in Black, their model.

I tried to stop a fierce argument between the 2 groups after the talk-- as I see it, each is pursuing an important, but different, mitzva; the women in green and the right are fighting to protect Jewish lives and property, threatened by Arabs. The Rabbis For Human Rights are trying to prevent Jewish abuse of Arabs, which can Backfire and arouse Divine wrath, by turning us into the opposite of "a holy nation" (see IIS21). While each must stress those mitzvos most suited to his temperament and background, he must also respect those who do the opposite sort of mitzvos; so the angels honor each other, all members of God's variegated hosts, tho one may be the angel of death, the other of birth and healing (The Belzer Rebbe).

F. THE SACRIFICE: Before celebrating Yom Haatzmaut, we experience Yom Hazicharon, Soldiers and Fighters Memorial Day, a somber reminder of the great price and noble sacrifice intertwined with our return to our land-- every Shabat, we pray that God bring us back in joy to our land and plant us within our boundaries, where we'll make the additional sacrifices required there, besides the daily sacrifices (of life-- Musaf prayer). Any decent yeshiva or synagogue should include prayers for the welfare of the soldiers, police and government that protect it. Whether we should adopt fine and meaningful, but non-Jewish, forms of mourning, e.g. blowing taps, firing guns and standing silent and erect, is open to discussion. "The letters of Jonathan Netanyahu, Self-Portrait of A Hero", are a poignant and powerful expression of the Tzahal experience and sacrifice. On 8/17/68 he wrote his parents:

"A kind of sadness has overtaken me, which doesn't leave me. It does not control me or direct my actions, but it is inside me, it exists, sunk in a well-hidden corner of my being. This isn't exactly an emptiness, but something with a very heavy deposit-- a sort of "heavy emptiness". Perhaps this feeling doesn't exist only in me. There are times when I sense the cry and depth of this sadness in others, in all of those friends who came thru the war with their bodies intact. I think we all came out of it wounded, changed, more sensitive, more caring, and much much older. That harmony that characterizes a young man's world is not part of me any more. Altho I'm still young, still strong and confident of myself and my ability, I cannot ignore the fact that a sense of old age has taken hold of me... an old age particular to young men... not only the war, the killing, the deaths, the wounds and disabilities are to blame-- these can be overcome. Their imprint may perhaps be dulled by time. The real cause is the sense of helplessness in the face of a war that has no end... It continues with every mine and killing and murder... I have no doubt that war will come. Nor do I doubt that we will win. But for how long? Until when? We can't wipe out the Arab people; they are too many and have too much support. Of course we shall go on striking them, again and again and again, and we shall be fully justified in delivering a more powerful blow each time (cf. Operation Grapes of Wrath).

Knowing this makes us feel good, but the good feeling is mixed with sadness. We're young and we were not born for wars alone. I intend to go on with my studies... but I can no longer see this as my main mission in life...

Compare Yoni with pious, but weak and ineffectual, Jews who stood by helpless, as pagan animals (many of them our biological ancestors?) killed and raped their wives and children. The opposite extreme over-reaction was the secular Zionist stress on the physical, ignoring the spiritual. The hesder lad embodies both worlds, a kind and holy warrior. May his example inspire the people of Israel to return to the only truly beautiful Jewish model-- the study of Torah combined with the ways of the world; one cannot be a well-developed Jew without first being a well-developed human being; yet a Jew must also be something higher, to achieve world redemption, as its model kingdom of priests and holy nation in the State of Israel; some U.S. haredi women sense the greater holiness and masculinity of hesder students and prefer them to their traditional shiduchim. Others prefer the traditional gentle reliable kollelnik, a patriarch in their concealed matriarchy.

As we contemplate the great sacrifice of Israel's defenders on Memorial Day, we should enter joyous Yom Haatzmaut resolved to build a truly great and holy State of Israel, that their sacrifice not be in vain.


A huge fuss is being made over the fiftieth anniversary of The State of Israel-- but is "50" really any more significant than "49" or "51"? Every year that the State of Israel exists, grows and flourishes is a great miracle, the fulfillment of ancient Biblical predictions, perhaps the best proof that God is the author of the Torah and the Giver of Prophecy. If it is just the fact that 50 years is a long time for such a perilous enterprise to survive and flourish, 51 years is even more impressive!

Yet folks are attracted to concepts like 100 or "century" or portions thereof, e.g. 10, 25, 50 and 75 years, leave alone the meaningless millennial years, e.g. 1000, 1500 and 2000 in the Common Error (Vendyl Jones). Couples usually make a big fuss about their 25th or 50th anniversary, but not about their 24th or 26th, their 49th or 51st! Is this just a silly convention, or is there an intelligent or traditional Jewish basis for it?

I'd say no-- true, the celebration of the 50th or jubilee year in Israel is a major Biblical institution; but the jubilee year is a periodic, not cumulative, celebration every 50 years, more related to the Biblical Sabbatical significance of 7, being the reflective culmination of 7 X 7 years; jubilee years are not added up to celebrate the 100th, 200th and 1000th year, etc. So in the human life cycle, the only dates celebrated are the 8th day after birth and the 12th and 13th bat and bar mitzva years. Ben He He (some say Shmuel Hakatan), at the end of Ch. 5 of Avot, lists significant life stage; but he uses decimals only from 20 on-- Age 5 is for studying scripture, 10 for mishna, 13 for mitzvos-, 18 for marriage, 20 "to pursue", 30 for power, 40 for insight, 50 for advice, 60 (which I just became-- life is a one way street) for becoming elderly (i.e. death awareness?), 70 for old age, 80 for courageous conquest, 90 for discoursing, 100-- as tho he's dead and out of this world (perhaps less true today with modern medicine and social development); thus decades as such would be significant only upon reaching maturity at 20. Secular developmental studies reach similar conclusions (e.g. those of Dr. Daniel Levinson, popularized in Gail Sheehy's "Passages").

But-- any excuse for a party, and who wants to be a party pooper? If the fuss about "Israel's Jubilee", howbeit irrational, interests folks in Judaism and Israel, and brings tourists and investments, who's to argue with it? So Yeshivot, such as Aish Hatorah, and Arachim use the Torah Codes to bring Jews back to their heritage, tho the whole thing is highly questionable scientifically.

P.S. The Hebrew month Iyar contains both new holidays, Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim. Its first two letters-- alef and yud-- stand for Eretz Yisroel, the Land of Israel, a hint of Israel Independence Day; the last two, yud and resh, are the abbreviation of Yerushalayim, a hint of Jerusalem Day (Torah Tidbits).

P.S.S. Numerical trivia:'48, the beginning of the State of Israel, is the numerical equivalent of "moach", brain, and "cham", warm; may Israel continue to develop and lead the world, both intellectually and emotionally.

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