This week markd the 60th yahrzeit of Rabbi Dr. Yitzhak Isaac Halevi Herzog, who served as chief rabbi right after the establishment of the State of Israel. We will try to sum up his immense activity through three things he said, which reverberate till this very day:
* “Utzu eitza v’sufar” – In 1939, the British published the White Paper, which hindered the ability to make aliyah and settle the Land of Israel. Rabbi Herzog gave a dramatic speech against the “treacherous” Britain, tore the White Paper apart in front of his audience, and declared “ Utzu eitza v’sufar” (“Take counsel together, and it shall be brought to nought” – Isaiah 8:10).
Decades later his son, Chaim Herzog, became Israel’s ambassador to the UN and similarly tore apart the UN resolution that equated Zionism with racism. Official papers can contain utter lies, too.
* “There will not be a third destruction” – During World War II, the German Army reached Egypt. The Land of Israel in its entirety was under danger of German invasion. The rav encouraged the Jewish settlers, gave them strength, and then declared with confidence that this time we have returned here to stay:
“I declare, with all the responsibility that is laid upon me at this time: The Prophets prophesied about a First and a Second Destruction – but a third destruction will not be.”
* “Starting today, every child to us is like one thousand children.” These words were said by Rabbi Herzog to the Pope after the Holocaust when he went out on a journey to find Jewish children who were transferred to convents and monasteries to avoid deportation to Nazi concentration camps, and were baptized to Christianity there. Rav Herzog wound up returning many children to their faith, people, and homeland.
In his memory.