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As Jews in Israel and all over the world prepare to celebrate Shavuot, it is incumbent upon us to take the time to reflect on the meaning of our traditional values and history with regard to our current challenges and goals.
Today, as the Jewish people face external and internal threats, we may learn to cope with the dangers we face through the lessons learned from our history in biblical times.
Our celebration of the Passover holiday commemorates our physical redemption from slavery in Egypt and the miracles that accompanied our salvation.
The follow-up to this miraculous event is the spiritual redemption of the Jewish people with the acceptance of the holy Torah on Mount Sinai, which we commemorate on Shavuot.
There is a parallel to this: The miraculous establishment of the State of Israel following the tragedy of the Holocaust as the physical salvation of the Jewish people from the slaughter that took place all over Europe.
Unfortunately, we are still challenged with achieving our spiritual salvation in the Land of Israel and all over the world as Jews cope with anti-Semitism, delegitimization of the Jewish state, and above all the battle to maintain Jewish identity and values while living under the influence of modernization.
Possibly the most glorious moment in our nation’s history took place right before the acceptance of the Torah. The Jewish people declared to Moshe (Shemot 24:8): “Na’aseh v’nishma“- “We will do and we will listen.”
The Midrash Tanchuma states that R’ Abba bar R’ Kahana said, “When Bnei Yisrael stood by Har Sinai and said, ‘All that Hashem speaks we will do and we will hear,’ the Almighty sent two angels to each of Am Yisrael. One angel girded him with a sword and the other one placed a crown on his head” (Tetzaveh 11).
The crowns testified to their lofty status.
The Beis HaLevi explains: “Why did each individual respond in the plural, ‘Na’aseh v’nishma,’ we will do and we will listen? Each person should have said, ‘I will do and I will listen.’ How could they speak for everyone else?
The Beis Halevi answers that everyone made two acceptances. One was to personally observe the Torah, while the second commitment was to take responsibility for his friend, to ensure that he would also keep the Torah faithfully.
This is stated in the Midrash: “Rebbi said that when the Jewish people stood before Har Sinai together and accepted the sovereignty of Hashem with joy and with one heart, they also became guarantors for each other” (Tanchuma Yitro 13).
Among the mitzvot observed by the people of Israel are those pertaining to the settlement of the Land. The entire world is currently up in arms proclaiming that the Jewish settlements in the Land of Israel are an obstacle to peace.
What is being ignored is that Jerusalem, the Golan and Judea and Samaria were included in the British Mandate delegated by the League of Nations for which the UN is responsible through Article 80, as well as the Anglo-American Treaty of 1924, which the United States government is responsible to implement according to the Constitution.
The fact that the Jewish people living in Israel, especially in Jerusalem and the biblical regions of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights, are indigenous to these lands (and as such protected by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) has been largely ignored by the international community and left-wing opponents of the Jewish right to Eretz Yisrael.
With the resumption of the peace process under the guidance of the Obama administration, Jews in the U.S. and all over the world must take responsibility for their fellow Jews and raise their voices to ensure the Jewish right to fulfill the mitzvah of living in the land of our ancestors, the “promised land” as given to us by the Almighty.
By remaining silent in face of the international effort to deny us this mitzvah, the Jewish people will be going back on the biblical promise made when they accepted the Torah at Mount Sinai – “Na’aseh v’nishma.”
The peace process needs to go forward and to succeed – but not at the expense of our Jewish identity and our rights to the Land of Israel.
We must implement our promise to be guarantors for one another and assure our future as a nation united in the observance of the commandments of the Torah.
Chag Shavuot Sameach to all Am Yisrael.
About the Author: Member of Knesset Rabbi Nissim Zeev is a founding member the Shas Party and a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem.
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