As we move within twenty four hours of Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur, 5770, I wish to share my words delivered on the Second day of Rosh HaShana.
September 20, 2009 - הב' בתשרי, תש"ע ראש השנה ב
On the fifth of the month of Iyar, in the Jewish year 5708, on the day in which the British Mandate over a Palestine expired, the Jewish People's Council gathered at the Tel Aviv Museum, and approved the following proclamation, declaring the establishment of the State of Israel. Our nation was founded on principles of Torah and Justice; Peace and Ahavat Chesed, the Love of kindness. On that day, David ben Gurion read the Proclamation of Independence which began with the words: ERETZ-ISRAEL was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.
On June 7, 1985, in The Carmel Hospital, Ron and Orly Kehrman welcomed into the world their first child; a girl named Tal.
She was an incredibly friendly girl. She had a lot of friends from many different streams of life. She was sensitive to others’ feelings, and when her friends say that when she saw somebody hurt, she took special consideration in supporting and encouraging him. Because she was so friendly, she was the one who made a connection between individual friends and society. In her world of friends, there were a lot of new immigrants. Tal was a very sensitive teenager and did everything she could to avoid hurting a weaker person’s feelings. Tal loved to read both in English and in Hebrew. In addition to her appreciation of literature, she loved to watch the science and music channels. She knew all the words to numerous songs. If one picked any random song she surely knew all the words, both in English and in Hebrew. While in 11th grade, a month after the Twin Towers Terrorist attack, Tal was sent to represent “Ironi Hey School” in a delegation to Boston from the city of Haifa. She was chosen, because of her outstanding ability to connect with others.
On March 5, 2003, Tal and her friend Liz were in downtown Haifa to buy some materials for the end of school celebrations. On that day, after school she met up her friend to plan end of the school year events. They both went downtown to buy some things for this occasion. While downtown, they got a call from some other friends to come up to the Carmel. And so, as usual, Tal and Liz and around thirteen other Israelis sat comfortably on bus number 37, looking forward to graduation, the Army and the life that they had always wanted, and of which they have dreamt for years. There was only one problem that day, on bus #37. A Hamas terrorist has also boarded the bus and on Moriah Boulevard, he self detonated and seventeen people were murdered. Tal and Liz among them. Tal died just three months before her 18th birthday. Tal was, by all accounts, definitions and meanings, a Hero of Israel. Not in her death, rather, in her life. In the way that she lived her extraordinary, amazing, yet far too short life.
A baby boy named Gilad was born to Aviva and Noam Shalit on 28 August 1986 in Nahariyah. At age eleven, he wrote a story called "When the Fish and the Shark First Met", an engaging story in which a small fish and shark are able to resolve their familie's differences and live together in peace.
Early on Sunday morning, 25 June 2006, just two months short of his twentieth birthday, Gilad Shalit was captured by Terrorist Soldiers who surprise-attacked an Israeli army post on the Israeli side of the southern Gaza Strip border after crossing through an underground tunnel near the Kerem Shalom border, and has been held hostage in the Gaza Strip by Hamas since.
Shalit, a soldier of the IDF's Armor Corps, recently spent his 23rd birthday in captivity. Gilad is believed to be alive, however, Hamas authorities have refused requests from the allow visits by the International Red Cross to visit him, or otherwise confirm his health and welfare status. Several human rights organizations have stated that the terms and conditions of Shalit's detention are contrary to international humanitarian law. In exchange for his release, Hamas is demanding the release of over 1,000 terrorists held in Israel.
Manhigut Yehudit, The Jewish Leadership Movement, led by the popular Moshe Feiglin says it best when they state that: A Jewish state must be absolutely faithful to the Land of Israel -- the Land that was promised in its Biblical borders to the Fathers of the Nation by the Creator of the world -- and includes the understanding of the positive connection between the Land and the ability of the Nation of Israel to fulfill its earthly goals.
The Likud Party has unilaterally and correctly, I might add, reminded World Leaders, including the current resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that our nation, that Israel is a Sovereign State. As is Canada, Mexico, France, Germany...
I must ask - When last did the United States last tell Canada to split their Dominion in two and hand it to Terrorist Forces? When did Germany last tell France what to do? 1942? 1943? Was Germany not then governed by the Terrorist of all Terrorists?
And so, I ask the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue this question: Since when, Sir, is it your right, since when were you granted permission by Am Yisrael to tell us what to do with OUR LAND? With the land that was given to us by Our Creator; by He who took us from Egypt with a Long arm, and Outstretched Hand?
Why, Sir, does it appear to your citizenry, and to ours, that you are more interested in where we build our towns and cities, than you are with the rising unemployment, homeless, and collape of the economy in your own Country? Why is it that while you claim to be in a war against "terror", do you continue to recognize a non-government from a non-existent place that is comprised mostly of admitted Terrorists?
And why, why do we as Jews care? We care because we were together in the sand pits of Egypt; We were together at Sinai. We were together when G-d gave us Torah, and we we were together when a mad man tried to destroy us sixty five years ago. We care because we know that our place is not here. We care because we know, deep down, that our place is in Jerusalem; in Tel Aviv; in Beer Sheva; on Kibbutzim and on Moshavot; On the west side of the green line and on the east. In the north of Galilee and in the Negev. In Rosh haNikra and in Eilat.
Every year on Pesach, we say l'Shana Habaah b'Yerushalayim. Let us all do our best to make this a reality, as a United people, a people living as Am Chofshi b'Arteinu, as a Free Nation in our Land, we cannot be, and we will not be bullied. Together my dear friends, we can support our Birthright and stand together with the words of David Ben Gurion and Moshe Feiglin and be absolutely faithful to the Land of Israel.
Chaverai: We are faced with dilemas every day, if not every hour of every day. Many of them problems to which we have little or no control, but must face them regardless. We do, however, have control of choices that we have. How we face these challenges and how we respond to the outcome. How do we face life? Do we continue to be brought down by the negative, or do we look the world dead on, and remember the words Modeh Ani? Do we get upset about the morning drive traffic, or do we thank G-d that we are alive to BE in the traffic? Should we be upset that we have to sit in the traffic, or do we thank G-d that we have a job, and are healthy to be able to perform the job?
Maybe, Chaverai, maybe my friends these are more challenges from haShem. Clearly, G-d asks of us one thing, and one thing only: VeAhavta et haSmem Elokeicha, You shall love the L-rd your G-d, B'chol levavecha, ub'chol Nafsheicha, ub'chol Meodeicha, with all your heart, all your soul and with all your strength. Yes, we have Six Hundred and Thirteen Mitzvot, 613 Commandments that make up this love, but if we can remember just one, that of loving our neighbor as we do ourselves, this alone will help us to be better people. This alone will help us repair our damaged world. This alone will stop all war and agression. This alone, will bring Peace.
And let us say, Amen.
Shana Tovah, u'G'mar Chatima Tovah, B'Ahava u'Vrachrot..
Rabbi Alan Abrams