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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
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Letters To The Editor

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The Miracle

Re the recent op-eds and reader responses to the haredi draft law controversy in Israel:

The haredi position on Israel has always baffled me. If as believing Jews we hold that nothing happens by chance, and that history is molded by God’s Hand, how then can we say that the return of the Jewish people to their homeland after 2,000 years was mere happenstance, or even something that went against the wishes of the Creator?

If we believe the Jewish people were selected by God to bring the light of Torah to the world, and that our relationship with the Land of Israel plays a central role in our Covenant with Hashem and our standing in the eyes of the world (which mocked us with endless cries of “Where is your God?” through the long centuries of our exile), then surely the return to Zion is a landmark event in Jewish and world history. We disregard it or, worse, denigrate it at our great risk.

Haredim who dismiss the creation of Israel as just another historical event, or a sin against God by faithless Jews who had no patience with the Divine timetable, have to answer the question of why God would send such confusing signals by bringing about the rebirth of Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael after millennia of Jewish homelessness.

They have to explain why, after centuries of dispersion and persecution and murder, a weak and defenseless Jewish people were suddenly able not only to bring a state into being, not only to fend off and defeat their enemies, but also to build that state into a scientific, technological and military powerhouse that at the same time funds more Torah learning and Torah institutions than we’ve ever seen anywhere before in history.

As a person of faith, I look at Israel and see a state that no rational person as recently as the 1930s and early 1940s would have believed possible.

Just imagine going back in time to a Russian village in 1893 or a Polish shtetl in 1923 or a Nazi death camp in 1943 and telling Jews there that within a few years a Jewish state would rise from the ash heap of history and its Jewish soldiers and scientists and doctors would astonish the world with their accomplishments.

Or imagine telling Jews in the 1940s that despite the annihilation of six million Jews and the almost total eradication of Europe’s great Torah centers, within a couple of decades the Torah community would be flourishing as never before in a new Jewish state, uncountable yeshivas and synagogues would be built, chassidic dynasties would be reestablished, and a Jewish army would keep watch over them.

People would have thought you were a raving lunatic had you attempted to tell them any of the above. But it all came to pass, and if that’s not a miracle, then there are no miracles.

Asher Bernstein
Jerusalem

 

BDS And The Israel Parade (I)

Re Rabbi Aryeh Spero’s “Israel Boycott Promoters Do Not Belong in Israel Day Parade” (JewishPress.com op-ed, posted March 31):

If these Boycott people are allowed to be part of the march, yeshivot should start pulling out and boycotting the parade. I won’t be a part of allowing these very ignorant people to march with those who love Israel.

Jonathan Weber
(Posted on JewishPress.com)

 

BDS And The Israel Parade (II)

What could they possibly have been thinking? The New York City UJA-Federation and Jewish Community Relations Council have decided to allow “pro-Israel” organizations which support the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to participate in the June 1 Celebrate Israel Parade.

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