Happy Re-Birth Day Israel! (JEWISH PRESS) By: Mike Cohen 04/26/12)
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YERUSHALAYIM, ISRAEL – Jews the world over rejoice today as the
modern miracle of Israel celebrates 64 years. There are those among
us who would boycott her. There are those among us who would sanction
her. There are those among us that would sing her praises all the
while acting against her best interests. The question is – why?
On the right, there are those who are unhappy with the decisions of
Israel’s leaders. Firing mid-level officers for doing their job after
months and months of “showing restraint” and sending the police to
drag Jews out of their homes while allowing massive illegal Arab
building to continue unabated in the Galil and elsewhere does not
help this cause.
On the left, there are those who are unhappy with the decisions of
Israel’s leaders. Passing laws that legalize Jewish settlement in all
parts of the Land of Israel, protecting Israel’s civilians with
roadblocks and military might while holding hard-core murderers and
terrorists in jail does not help this cause.
So who is the “true” supporter of Israel? Who has her best interest
at heart? Which side is the right one and which is wrong?
In Israel, there are at least 24 hours a year where this question,
for the most part, is put aside. These 24 hours are followed, with
nary a second to breathe in between, with 24 more where again, for
the most part, these questions are put aside.
Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’Atzmaut – the Day of Remembrance and the Day
of Independence – find the vast plurality of Israel standing in
unity. We unite as a people at the worst of times – and we also unite
as a people at the best of times. We may argue the merits of this
decision or that until our faces are blue – but if God forbid
something horrible happens – or by the grace of God something great
happens, suddenly, left and right unite.
Why? How is it that we can put aside our disagreements, be they petty
or of major consequence, at our moments of greatest emotion? Would it
not be logical that when emotions are highest and the adrenaline is
pumping hardest – we would become more ornery? More upset with each
other? More divisive?
No. This is not the Jewish way and it never has been.
We are a people of extremes. We have always been a people of
extremes. We have extreme intellectual faculties, extreme opinions,
extreme rules, extreme ideas, extreme dreams and extreme ideas.
(Please don’t get me started on the extreme levels of pressure we put
on ourselves and our children and the infamously extreme levels of
Jewish guilt we all live with.)
We are also a people of extreme successes and failures. Just look at
the world news – for every Jew winning a Nobel Prize in this
discipline or that – a Jew is failing us all and going to jail for
his/her crimes. For every victory in the field, there is a failure of
command, leadership or political courage that causes us to beat
ourselves up from the right, the left, and more often than not – from
both. Yet, when faced with the news of each extreme success and each
extreme failure – we put aside our differences and look at that
person as a brother, a sister, a member of the tribe, for better or
for worse – as a fellow Jew.
In his seminal 1956 address Kol Dodi Dofek (The Voice of My Beloved
is Knocking) the great Rav Yosef Ber Soloveitchik zt”l (The Rav)
analyzed the miracles of Israel’s re-birth and found at least six
knocks of HaShem at the doors of humanity. Each of these knocks,
(military, political, educational, religious, sociological, communal)
was unique but dependent. They may have been independent knocks but
they were all very dependent on one another to be heard and acted
upon. The changes that each knock of HaShem represented were in and
of themselves extreme – and called for major changes in the global
society and the Jewish one if they were to be heard and acted upon.
The knocks of HaShem called for an unprecedented and extreme level of
unity. The knocks called for an extreme level of hand holding and
cooperation between diverse groups who traditionally did not get
A people of extremes, the survivors of extreme hate in Europe, Asia,
Africa and in fact in America of that era too, were called by HaShem
to hear Him knocking for extreme change, to come together in extreme
unity and to help Him build an rejoice in an extreme miracle.
We Jews are an extremely tight knit family. Families fight and argue,
yell and scream, rant and rave – especially when things are stable.
But push a family into the corner, or provide it with reason for
celebration – and, usually, family members they will come together in
profound and extreme ways.
This is the simple answer to such a profound question. This is the
reason why we can sing and dance together, cry together, mourn
together, fight together, defend together, celebrate together and
build together. We are a family, a family re-born in our home after
2,000 years of dealing on our own with our neighbors cruelty and
brutality and our own despair at separation from each other.
We are a family of extremes, of diverse opinions and a multiplicity
of priorities. Yet we are a family. We fight each other within like a
family and we protect each other from outsiders like a family.
Let’s recognize the extreme miracle of Israel’s re-birth after 2,000
Happy Re-Birth Day Israel! Welcome Home to the Family of HaShem! (©
2012 JewishPress. 04/26/12)
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