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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776
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The Religious Significance of the Israeli Flag

A flag with the Star of David hung prominently in the synagogues of Prague since the mid-14th century, with the approval of their great rabbis.

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Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik tried to express the significance of the Israeli flag in halachic terms. He invoked the custom of burying a Jewish martyr in his blood-soaked clothes as they cry out for mercy and vengeance. Rabbi Soloveitchik continued and compared this to the degel:

The blue and white flag, soaked with the blood of thousands of young Jews who fell in the War of Independence, protecting the Land and settlements (religious and non-religious, for the enemy, yemach shemam, did not distinguish), has a spark of sanctity that flows from devotion and self-sacrifice. We are all enjoined to honor the flag and treat it with respect. – Chamesh Derashot, p. 90; Cf. Nefesh ha-Rav, p. 100

The state of Israel was not handed to us on a silver platter. We paid a heavy price and continue to sacrifice. We live during challenging times, complicated times – but also exciting times. We live at a unique moment in history. Our fervent hope and prayer is to see the fulfillment of the words we pray in the daily amidah, “Raise the banner to gather our exiles and speedily gather us together from the four corners of the earth to our Land.”

Rabbi Shimshon HaKohen Nadel

About the Author: Rabbi Shimshon HaKohen Nadel lives and teaches in Jerusalem.


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