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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays IDF Memorial Day

Treasure And Trauma

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This coming Tues. night-Wed, we pay tribute to the brave heroes of Israel who gave their lives so our nation could survive the continuous war(s) waged against us. As our leaders wisely proclaimed, there is no permission to celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut until we give Kavod on Yom Hazikaron to all those who made such celebration possible.

The thinking Jew is continually confronted by the obvious question: Why must joy be preceded by suffering? Why must we first be traumatized by war & pain, & only then be delivered into victory & triumph?

Our Sedra presents the same quandary, when discussing the malady of Tzara'at in the walls of a home. The owner of the home removes his possessions & then tearfully stands & watches as his house is demolished, brick by brick. But wait, we are told by the Medrash; there's good news, too! In the walls are gold & jewels, secreted there by the former owners, who hid their valuables there when they fled. The distraught homeowner finds this treasure & his pain is ameliorated.

But - why did he have to endure this ordeal? Why didn't G-d reveal the treasure without the trauma?

This question is amplified in the story of Nadav & Avihu, the sons of Aharon. When they died, as Rashi explains in the Sedra of Shmini, Moshe said to Ahron, "I knew the Mishkan would have to be sanctified through someone, I just thought it would be me or you," implying that the death of Ahron's sons was a necessary prerequisite to building the Mishkan.

But why? Why is there the concept of "Bikrovay Ekadesh - I shall be made holy via those closest to Me?" Of all the mysteries of the Torah, this, to me, is perhaps the most confounding, the most inscrutable.

I therefore submit that we must approach this issue as a scientist views the world. We can faithfully know WHAT happens, but not necessarily WHY it happens. The facts are: Liberation follows slavery; healing follows sickness; peace follows war, & Life follows Death.

If we are alive today with a holy, vibrant Jewish country, our People resurrected in an eternal Israel, it is only because G-d's holy ones gave their lives Al Kiddush Hashem.

Acknowledging our heroes on Yom HaZikaron reflects both our trust in G-d, whose mighty Hand fashions every event, as well as a sense of deep gratitude for those who made our lives livable. A Jew who stands in respect as the siren sounds on Yom Hazikaron not only honors our brave soldiers; he also honors & affirms Hashem.

The stance we take on Yom Hazikaron is the strongest prayer we can possibly utter that we might be granted the treasure, but not the trauma. May this be G-d's will.
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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