Rav Shaul Feldman on Yom Ha’atzmaut
Rav Shaul Feldman on Yom Ha’atzmaut
For as long as I can remember every Yom Ha’atzmaut I go back to the prophecy of Jeremiah with tremendous excitement.
ירמיהו פרק לג פסוקים י-יא
כֹּ֣ה ׀ אָמַ֣ר יְהוָ֗ה עוֹד֮ יִשָּׁמַ֣ע בַּמָּקוֹם־הַזֶּה֒ אֲשֶׁר֙ אַתֶּ֣ם אֹֽמְרִ֔ים חָרֵ֣ב ה֔וּא מֵאֵ֥ין אָדָ֖ם וּמֵאֵ֣ין בְּהֵמָ֑ה בְּעָרֵ֤י יְהוּדָה֙ וּבְחֻצ֣וֹת יְרוּשָׁלִַ֔ם הַֽנְשַׁמּ֗וֹת מֵאֵ֥ין אָדָ֛ם וּמֵאֵ֥ין יוֹשֵׁ֖ב וּמֵאֵ֥ין בְּהֵמָֽה׃
Thus said the LORD: Again there shall be heard in this place, which you say is ruined, without man or beast—in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man, without inhabitants, without beast—
ק֣וֹל שָׂשׂ֞וֹן וְק֣וֹל שִׂמְחָ֗ה ק֣וֹל חָתָן֮ וְק֣וֹל כַּלָּה֒ ק֣וֹל אֹמְרִ֡ים הוֹדוּ֩ אֶת־יְהוָ֨ה צְבָא֜וֹת כִּֽי־ט֤וֹב יְהוָה֙ כִּֽי־לְעוֹלָ֣ם חַסְדּ֔וֹ מְבִאִ֥ים תּוֹדָ֖ה בֵּ֣ית יְהוָ֑ה כִּֽי־אָשִׁ֧יב אֶת־שְׁבוּת־הָאָ֛רֶץ כְּבָרִאשֹׁנָ֖ה אָמַ֥ר יְהוָֽה׃
The sound of mirth and gladness, the voice of bridegroom and bride, the voice of those who cry, “Give thanks to the LORD of Hosts, for the LORD is good, for His kindness is everlasting!” as they bring thanksgiving offerings to the House of the LORD. For I will restore the fortunes of the land as of old—said the LORD.
Yirmiyahu is describing a complete destruction in the land of Israel. No people, no animals — basically no life in Yerushalayim. In a quick spin, he starts to describe a completely different Yerushalayim. A Yerushalayim of joy and simcha, we will have weddings in Yerushalaim and Korban Todah will be brought to the Beit Hamikdash.
Every year I get excited how it is so evident that we are living in these days. We have life in Yerushalaim, we have weddings almost every night in yerushalaim. It’s back, it’s happening.
This year going back to the same prophecy I initially felt worry. Covid-19 took away weddings, took away the description of Yerushalayim of the prophet Zechariah in his 8th chapter.
כֹּ֤ה אָמַר֙ יְהוָ֣ה צְבָא֔וֹת עֹ֤ד יֵֽשְׁבוּ֙ זְקֵנִ֣ים וּזְקֵנ֔וֹת בִּרְחֹב֖וֹת יְרוּשָׁלִָ֑ם וְאִ֧ישׁ מִשְׁעַנְתּ֛וֹ בְּיָד֖וֹ מֵרֹ֥ב יָמִֽים׃
Thus said the LORD of Hosts: There shall yet be old men and women in the squares of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age.
וּרְחֹב֤וֹת הָעִיר֙ יִמָּ֣לְא֔וּ יְלָדִ֖ים וִֽילָד֑וֹת מְשַׂחֲקִ֖ים בִּרְחֹֽבֹתֶֽיהָ׃ (ס)
And the squares of the city shall be crowded with boys and girls playing in the squares.
But I quickly realized that even this, which seems like a setback is an incorrect assumption on my part. This isn’t a setback; a Jewish government protecting its citizens or Israeli paratroopers helping the elderly. This is Redemption. In fact, perhaps we have a greater opportunity than ever this year to complete the prophecy.
Every year I notice one part that demonstrates we have not fully fulfilled the prophecy:
The voice of those who cry, “Give thanks to the LORD of Hosts, for the LORD is good, for His kindness is everlasting!” as they bring thanksgiving offerings to the House of the LORD. For I will restore the fortunes of the land as of old—said the LORD.
The Voice of Religious Zionism. The voice that connects the significant success of Zionism, as a Religious identity. That’s the voice we as Bnei Akiva are calling out. Covid-19 is making us aware how clearly we are in the hands of G-D. Zionism is us taking responsibility for our people. Covid-19 Yom Ha’atzmaut is our opportunity to truly see that our actions as a nation is part of a prophecy “Thank G-d for the days we are living in!”
Chag Atzmaut Sameach,
Rav Shaul Feldman
Executive Director of Bnei Akiva of the US & Canada