web analytics
April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Survival Olympics

Share Button

What were you thinking on Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the year? The day when we mourn the destruction of our two Temples; our expulsion from Spain, England and France; the Crusades, the Holocaust; our two thousand years of wandering the earth?

What I think of on Tisha B’Av is that – against all logic – our nation has survived!

We could simply have assimilated, ceasing to be Jews and disappearing as a nation.

Who among us would therefore be deserving of the gold medal of what can be termed the “Survival Olympics”?

I believe gold medals should be awarded to our rabbinical authorities, our scholars, and the heads of our yeshivas.

It was they who supplied us with our unifying daily prayers, our pride and wisdom, and helped us recognize how special we are, thanks to our holy Torah given to us by God on Mount Sinai.

Unfortunately, in Israel today we have forgotten our scholars of the past 2,000 years. We have even forgotten to show appreciation.

Where is our hakaras hatov? Our appreciation for our forebears? If not for them, would Herzl have even been Jewish? What about Spinoza? Einstein?

On Tisha B’Av I was thinking about the Sunday Cabinet meeting, when the ministers voted on some sort of equal burden law to forcefully draft yeshiva students away from the outdated Survival Olympics. Where were the roshei yeshiva that day? Why weren’t they invited to address the Cabinet ministers?

For 2,000 years our gold medal winners, our rabbis, taught us to accept “equality of burden” simply by being exemplary Jews. This opened a giant spiritual umbrella for us where our entire nation found safety from the reign of hatred and persecution throughout the ages.

When Menachem Begin, a”h, went to meet with Jimmy Carter and Anwar Sadat at Camp David, he stopped off on the Lower East Side to meet with American gedolim, at the home of HaRav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l.

My grandfather, Reb Yaakov Kamenetsky, zt”l, advised him to learn the Torah portion of Vayishlach on his way to Camp David. That parshah tells of the meeting of Yaakov and his brutal brother Eisav.

Begin gasped and said to my zaidie, “I just spoke with Rav Shach in Israel, and he told me exactly the same thing!”

Menachem Begin was a shtetl Yid who knew that our rabbis, our gedolim, wore the gold medals of the Survival Olympics!

David Ben-Gurion, the founder of our state, was also a shtetl Yid from the old country. He created the so-called status quo. He knew that mit de rabbonim fankt mer nisht un – you don’t start up with the rabbis.

Thanks to this respect for our rabbis, everyone in Israel feels Shabbos is coming on Friday, whether or not he or she is observant. On Friday the grocery shelves all over the country feature Shabbos challahs.

But back to the subject of equality of burden regarding army service: My brother, Rav Yitzchok Shurin, has been a rebbe at Shapell College in Jerusalem for many years. It’s an American yeshiva that, unlike Israeli yeshivas, has no deferments for teachers.

When my holy grandfather visited Israel in 1980, my brother, who was married with three children at the time, asked our grandfather if he should find a way out of serving in the army.

My grandfather answered, “First of all, that would be dishonest, but more important, our tiny country is surrounded by millions of enemies. Every country needs an army, especially ours!”

He then added, “The religious soldiers are the best soldiers, because they are protecting a land they recognize as holy and an eternal gift given to us by the One God of Israel.”

The Survival Olympics weren’t left behind in Europe. Israel is full of gold medal winners.

The Cabinet vote is doomed to have a boomerang effect. Currently, 30% of haredim go to the Army. Anyone visiting the main police station in the Russian Compound in Jerusalem will see many haredim training to be police officers.

But now, all it will take will be some direction from the gedolim, from the rebbes, from the roshei yeshiva, and the jails will be full of Torah scholars. (And the jail guards will be screaming, “Get us out of here, we’re starting to become religious!”)

Share Button

About the Author: Dov Shurin is a popular radio personality and the composer and producer of several albums. He lives with his family in Israel and can be contacted at dovshurin@yahoo.com. His Jewish Press column appears monthly.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Survival Olympics”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Who will he take to the dance?
It’s Prom Time, and Abbas Must Choose a Dance Partner – Israel or Hamas
Latest Indepth Stories
Al-Aksa Mosque was claimed to be the site from which Mohammed ascended to Heaven, but it was built nearly 50 years after Mohammed died.

Jerusalem only seems important in the Islamic world when non-Muslims control or capture the city.

Israeli police enter the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City to disperse stone-throwing Palestinian protesters.

Jordan’s king is adding fuel to the fire on the Temple Mount, blaming Israel for violence by Muslim Arab rioters.

Imam Suhail Webb who boasted his Muslim community persuaded Brandeis President Fred Lawrence to withdraw an invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

At Brandeis, much of what counts as Western civilization got cold feet and won’t stand with Hirsi Ali.

Text of anti-Semitic flyer distributed to Jews in Donetsk, Ukraine on Passover 2014.

But the lesson from this meditation is that hidden behind the anti-semitic act is the greatest light.

As support of their messianic dream, Halevi and Antepli approve dishonoring Hirsi Ali as a ‘renegade.’

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

More Articles from Dov Shurin
Dov Shurin

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

Dov Shurin

Boundless love was something Rav Kook had for the nation of Israel. Just as one cannot question the boundless love of Hashem for Israel, one cannot question the boundless love of a Torah giant for his people.

I hollered over and over again, waving a clinched fist toward the heavens.

This past Shabbos, as we read the weekly Torah portion of Bishalach, my son suddenly said to me, “Dad, I have a feeling Sharon is going to pass away today, because we just read his name in Az Yashir [the Song of the Sea] where it says ‘arik charbi.’ ”

God decided to cast Truth down to earth and went on to create the world.

As I put on my tefillin, I knew we needed a miracle.

To me, the biggest joke of it all was the gleeful announcement by Rabin that “We are no longer an am livadad yishkone, a nation that dwells alone!”

Hashem simply goes beyond the letter of the law in His love for us.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/dov-shurin-columns/survival-olympics/2013/07/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: