Interview: Rabbi Haim Druckman (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By A7 Hebrew Service 04/27/12)
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Rabbi Haim Druckman, head of Yeshivat Or Etzion and Chairman of
Yeshivot Bnei Akiva, was awarded the Israel Prize this week.
Arutz Sheva had the opportunity to interview Rabbi Druckman shortly
before the prize was awarded.
Congratulations on receiving the Israel Prize. I would like to open a
rather personal question. Is there is a special feeling for the
Rabbi? Excitement for the event?
"There´s a special feeling. I cannot say that there is excitement,
but there is definitely a special feeling. Israel gives national
recognition for things done year in and year out by so many for the
values we hold dear: Israel, Eretz Israel and the Torah of Israel."
Although the description of the award said that he is the great
contributor to religious-Zionist education, many feel it could be
said of the religious Zionist movement as a whole. I guess, the rabbi
feels the same way?
"I´m happy about it and definitely agree. That´s my point: this is
official recognition of action for these values - and thank God I´m
not the only one that is pursuing them."
The award committee noted that the monetary portion of the prize was
awarded to educational and [Army] conversion programs. There is a
connection between the two?
"Certainly there is a connection. There are many with a relationship
to Israel who wish to come to Israel and be with Israel. From a
religious Zionist point of view the army and the state are bound up
as one. We must care for our brothers who come to Israel after a long
period of physical and spiritual bondage. We have to feel for such
people. If any of them wants to become a Jew in every respect, we
must help them. These things are connected."
In recent years, after the expulsion from Gush Katif, the
construction freeze in Judea and Samaria, and other struggles, many
in religious Zionist circles are saying these are the birth-pangs
heralding the messianic age. Does the rabbi feel this way?
"Of course I feel this way, and certainly it should be regarded as
the beginning of such things. I will point out two things, and then
add one more thing about them.
Rabbi Joshua Ben Meir, shlita, who fought in the Yom Kippur War in
the Golan Heights, where the difficult fighting brought him to a
spiritual and psychological crisis, said that when he was given leave
he went home to Jerusalem and could not sleep for two straight nights.
He sought out Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook for answers and strength. He
knocked on the door late one night and sensed the rabbi was peeking
through the keyhole to see who was coming at such an hour. Then the
rabbi opened the door and demanded "get the document!" Rabbi Ben-Meir
"Rabbi, I am Joshua Ben-Meir. A document?" Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda
repeated: "What about the document? Show me the document!" Rabbi
Joshua thought that the rabbi did not recognize him [from the
picture] because it was dusty and showed his military uniform, but
the rabbi kept asking him for "the document."
Finally, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda explained, "Show me your contract with God
in heaven, where you have the steps of redemption. Where is the
document in which he told you how he is going to redeem Israel ... "
Rabbi Ben-Meir understood that Rabbi Zvi Yehuda saw what was
troubling him from the outset, and they continued to talk for
sometime. We cannot dictate how God brings the Redemption. It is
through the Torah that we understand the meaning of the suffering we
The other event is as follows: I went with a delegation of students
in the eleventh and twelfth grade classes to Poland. After we visited
the Valley of Death in the extermination camps, on Shabbat, we talked
and the students poured out their hearts and said deeply felt and
Two of them said last Independence Day, which was after the expulsion
from Gush Katif and northern Samaria, that they found it difficult to
rejoice in the great joy of the nation. They asked themselves, "What
is the country celebrating? What are we so happy about?" But now,
after seeing what happened to our people in the camps, they
understood why we are happy to have a State of Israel, and on the
next Independence Day they were overjoyed.
These things inform us what a great gift God gave us. Its like
receiving a beautiful vase of flowers, which someone else throws into
the mud. You shouldn´t thank the one who sent the gift? After all,
the problems we created ... but who gave us the precious gift after
two thousand years of exile? Because we make trouble we don´t admit
what God has done for us? That makes no sense. On the contrary, we
must recognize what we have been given, accept the difficulties, face
them down, and improve. Then we can properly use the gift that God
Recently, more and more, we hear discussions about religious Zionism
needing to stop being a fifth-wheel politically. That its time to
take upon ourselves the burden of leadership. Can our generation
It´s up to us to unite. If not, we spread our forces too thin. If
everyone in the religious Zionist movement would unify behind a
single political party great things will happen, but currently there
is no chance for this. We must change this reality. We raised sons
and daughters who are glorious idealists. But we must focus on the
common ground amongst ourselves. Why do we not come together proudly
and say what be believe in? Why are we fighting with one another?
There are many who believe that, in order to lead, parties must
compromise and work for consensus…
Reality contradicts this! Where do we see it in the real world? Was
there consensus during the evacuation of Yamit? What majority was
represented during the expulsion from Gush Katif? Is memory so short?
Finally I would like to return to Independence Day. Is there a way
the Rabbi seeks to experience the values of the day?
On this day we ought to thank God in prayer, and bless the Lord for
the great gift he has given us as we do on other holidays. That is
the starting point, and whoever does not get the point - this day
will make him take note that he has another day of freedom. This is a
day of spiritual elevation.
We say prayers and rejoice. We feast and we travel with our families
to see our land. We go to the synagogue and we learn words of Troah.
We learn the relevant sections of Midrash, Jewish Law, and Talmud
dealing with our land. We admit to the Lord our joy at the land he
has given us. (IsraelNationalNews © 2012 04/27/12)
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