“To put a flag on the car or not?” that is the question.
Yom Haatzmaut is here . There were Jews who rejected the State of Israel from its very beginning because, instead of having the Mashiach do all the work, Hashem decided to give the mitzvah and its reward to Clal Yisrael, the Jewish people..
Then there were those who grew disillusioned with the State after Rabin and Peres gave away rifles to our enemies, along with large chunks of our Land.
Others gave the State a bill of divorce when Sharon bullied the government into evacuating Gush Katif. After all, beautiful and thriving settlements were bulldozed and turned into Hamas launching pads. It is true that many of these once diehard Zionists continue to receive government funds for the educational institutions they head, along with water, electricity, health services, and the like, but they now pen bitter condemnations of the monster called the State of Israel, Medinat Yisrael, a failure, they proclaim, that must give way to a Torah State, Malchut Yisrael (may it be soon).
And, last but not least, there are the “Mamlachtim” who bought one-way tickets, and who are aboard for the journey, even if it means going down with the ship.
Over the years, I have written hundreds of articles and blogs. The vast majority emphasize the hollowness of Jewish life in the Diaspora, and the great joy and privilege of living in Israel, where every moment you are bonded to the Shekinah and Clal Yisrael – whether you are aware of it or not.
Of course, I receive many vociferous reader comments which take exception to my views, citing a long list of problems with Medinat Yisrael, in order to justify their love affair with foreign lands. Some complain that when you want to take a shower in Israel, the water takes too long to heat up. Another popular criticism is that taxes in Israel are too high. Others complain that the government doesn’t allow settlers to build, or that the army purposefully strips frum soldiers of their Yiddishkeit, or that Israelis push and shove in line, or that immodest fashions are the rule in Tel Aviv and Eilat – as if Los Angeles, Miami, or New York are any better!
Some scream the government is secular, while others write that the Ultra-Orthodox rule the country. The list of complaints is endless. I try to point out that Avraham Avinu came to Israel when idol worship was everywhere. In Avraham’s time, there weren’t supermarkets filled with kosher products, synagogues in every neighborhood, Heders and Talmud Torahs for the children, Yeshivas galore and new luxurious penthouses waiting to be occupied. None of these existed in Avraham’s time, yet he gave up a promising future in Ur Chasdim and came to Israel all the same. So did Joshua, the son of Nun, and he had to wage fierce wars to let the seven nations know that their days of squatting on our Land were over.
When HaRav Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook spoke to Bnei Akiva students visiting from the Diaspora, he would tell them that being Jewish in our time meant living in Israel. He said that we didn’t pick and choose which commandments to perform, saying, “This mitzvah pleases me – I will do it – but this mitzvah is too hard, so I won’t.” We observe the precepts of the Torah because Hashem commanded us to perform them – period. How much more, he said, is this true with the mitzvah to dwell in the Land of Israel, a commandment that is equal in weight to all the other commandments of the Torah! Medinat Yisrael was a Torah mitzvah in every generation, he taught, as clearly explained by the Ramban, to establish Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael and dwell in it, and not to abandon it, or let it fall into the hands of the goyim.
On Yom Haatzmaut, HaRav Tzvi Yehuda would tell his students how shattered he was when the United Nations voted to partition Eretz Yisrael, (a plan the Arabs soon rejected), leading the way for a Jewish State. While the rest of the country’s Jews danced joyously in the streets, he sat crushed in his home. “They have divided my Land!” he cried. “The Land of Hashem! Where was all of Jerusalem, and Hevron, Shechem, and the other bank of the Jordan?!” A full day passed before he was able to absorb what had transpired and to join the happy Nation. “This is day that Hashem has made,” he finally stated, quoting the verse. “Let us be glad and rejoice on it!”
The same is true today. Certainly there are problems in Israel which demand correction, but the same King of the Universe is still in charge, even though it doesn’t always seem that way. But, like we say to every new Oleh – “Savlanut.” So once again this year, I am buying a flag and proudly clipping it on my car. My heart still flutters with pride when I see all of the flags fluttering over car rooftops along the country’s highways.
“This is the State which Hashem has created. Let us be glad and rejoice with it!”