web analytics
March 27, 2015 / 7 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Survival Olympics

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meeting, when the ministers voted on some sort of equal burden law to forcefully draft yeshiva students away from the outdated Survival Olympics.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!”)

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 the third issue of each month.


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.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Survival Olympics”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Palestinian Authority TV broadcasts incitement from children's school theater.
Palestinian Authority School Children: Boycott Israel by Killing Jews [video]
Latest Indepth Stories
Islamic Relief Worldwide Logo

In November 2014, Islamic Relief Worldwide was classified as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.

Safran-032715

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Erica Pelman is a spiritually-driven woman. She is founder and director of “In Shifra’s Arms” (ISA), an organization that offers aid to pregnant Jewish women of all religious backgrounds practically, financially and emotionally. Its arms are open to any pregnant woman in need whether single, divorced, separated, or from a financially-strapped family. “Presently, we are […]

Gerstenfeld-032715

Many so-called “humanitarian NGOs” frequently abuse Israel by applying false moral equivalencies

Israeli history now has its version of “Dewey Defeats Truman” with headlines from 2 anti-Bibi papers

In God’s plan why was it necessary that Moses be raised by Pharaoh, away from his own family&people?

In their zechus may we all come to appreciate that life is a fleeting gift and resolve to spend every precious moment of it as if it were the last.

In any event, Mr. Netanyahu after the election sought to soften his statement on Palestinian statehood and apologized for what he conceded were remarks that “offended some Israeli citizens and offended members of the Israeli Arab community.”

A worthy idea any way you look at it.

There is something quite distinctive about the biblical approach to time.

The Waqf kept control of the Temple Mount due to Dayan’s “magnanimity in victory” after 6 Day war

The event promotes “1 state” solution (end of Israel as a Jewish State), BDS, lawfare against Israel

I rescued you?! You’re doing me a favor letting me help you!

“Tzedakah tatzil mi-mavet: Charity saves from death”; No death & a tax break? Where do I sign up?

More Articles from Dov Shurin
Dov Shurin

Fortunate are we to have Rosh Hashanah for repentance, a shofar to awaken heavenly mercy.

Dov Shurin

Israel feebly begged Hamas to end the barrage, promising that “quiet will be met with quiet.”

Isn’t it comforting to know that our God loves life, grants life, and promises eternal life?

While the phrase “Let It Be” implies doing nothing, “Lu Yehi” implies working toward a goal.

An Israeli company should make “Arafat’s Dead Sea Tonic” with this warning: “may cause severe vomiting or even death.”

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

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.

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: