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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays Yom Haatzmaut

"Dwell in the land, and enjoy security"

: When David ben Gurion announced the establishment of the state, was he acting realistically? We were but a nation of tattered refugees gathered together from the four corners of the earth, surrounded by millions of Arabs with imposing armies.
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1. Created Anew
2. Looking Back to Move Ahead
3. With God in the Land of Israel

Created Anew
We have gathered today in order to praise God and thank Him for the acts of salvation He has performed on behalf of the Jewish people in our era, especially since the founding of the State of Israel. May this serve to strengthen our conviction that in the future too "God will neither abandon his people, nor forsake his heritage" (Psalms 94:14).

I am reminded of the verse in Psalms 102, "Let this be written for the generation to come, and a people that shall be created shall praise the Lord." The sages explain that " 'Let this be written for the generation to come' applies to the present generations which are in imminent danger of death; 'And a people that shall be created shall praise the Lord' applies to them because the Holy One, blessed be He, will at some future time create them anew" (Yayikra Rabba 30:3).

This verse reflects what happened to us in the previous generation, the generation of destruction and revival: We were in imminent danger of death and God revived us via the birth of the State of Israel, creating us anew.

Is it possible to say that since the founding of the State of Israel we have been acting according to the rules of logic? When David ben Gurion announced the establishment of the state, was he acting realistically? After all, superpowers cautioned us against declaring independence. We were surrounded at that time by millions of Arabs who possessed organized armies and imposing war machines. We, on the other hand, were but a nation of tattered refugees gathered together from the four corners of the earth. Sometimes Jews were sent straight to the battlefield without even knowing Hebrew, unable to communicate with fellow soldiers.

Ben Gurion, however, understood that we had no other path to take, that there was no other place for the Jewish people besides Land of Israel. He understood that no other country in the world was ready to absorb Jews and that he must therefore declare the establishment of the State of Israel. He believed that we would defend ourselves with utmost devotion.

An inner voice told David ben Gurion to have faith in victory, that justice demanded victory for such a persecuted nation in its own historical homeland, and he himself articulates this idea in Israel's Scroll of Independence. Because he did the right thing, we all merited the aid of the Almighty, aid that defied the laws of nature and human reason, and we succeeded in vanquishing our enemies.

Looking Back to Move Ahead
The sages of the Midrash (Ester Rabba 7) placed great importance on the penetrating vision of the righteous: "But the sight of the righteous gives them enlightenment, because it raises them to the loftiest height, as it says, 'And he [Abraham] lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood over against him' (Genesis 18:2); 'And he looked, and behold a ram' (ibid. 22:13); 'And he [Jacob] looked, and behold a well in the field' (ibid. 29:2); 'And he [Moses] looked, and, behold, the bush,' etc. (Exodus 3:2); 'And when Pinchas... saw,' etc. (Numbers 25:7). Therefore they rejoice in the sight of their eyes, as it says, 'The upright see, and are glad' (Psalms 107:42)."

The righteous see God's providence at work, and this elevates them to lofty heights. We must consider the miracles that God has performed for us thus far and the road that He is leading us down. Doing this will help us strengthen our faith so that we be able to face the difficult decisions of the future.

There is a Hasidic tale about a group of people who got lost in the forest and were unable to find their way out. Suddenly, a flash of lightning lit up the forest. For a moment members of the lost party delighted in the beauty of the illuminated forest and forgot that they were lost. However, there was a wise man among them who took advantage of the situation to find a way out of the thicket. Let us, in this same manner, avail ourselves of the lightning that we saw in the past in order to find solutions to the challenges of the future.

With God in the Land of Israel
God's providence in the Land of Israel is not bound by the laws of nature. It is governed directly by the Almighty himself such that a person can sense it and place his trust in God. The sages therefore say: "Whoever lives in the Land of Israel may be considered to have a God, but whoever lives outside the Land may be regarded as one who has no God. For it is said in Scripture, 'To give you the Land of Canaan, to be your God' (Leviticus 25:38). Has he, then, who does not live in the Land, no God? But [this is what the text intended] to tell you, that whoever lives outside the Land may be regarded as one who worships idols. Similarly it was said in Scripture in [the story of] David, 'For they have driven me out this day that I should not cleave to the inheritance of the Lord, saying: Go, serve other gods' (First Samuel 26:19). Now, whoever said to David, ‘Serve other gods’? Rather, [the text intends] to tell you that whoever lives outside the Land may be regarded as one who worships idols" (Ketubot 110b).

Ramban explains that outside the Land of Israel the Almighty governs His world via ministering angels and constellations, but in the Land of Israel He himself oversees matters. Therefore, "whoever lives in the Land of Israel may be considered to have a God."

And this can be inferred from another source that employs the same expression, "as one who has no God": "R' Huna said: He who only occupies himself with the study of the Torah may be regarded as one who has no God, for it says: 'Now for long seasons Israel was without the true God' (Second Chronicles 15:3) What is meant by ‘without the true God’? - It means that he who only occupies himself with the study of the Torah may be regarded as one who has no God" (Avodah Zara 17b).

Rashi explains: "As one who has no God to protect him." That is, when a person trusts in the protection of God's overt providence, he is like "one who has a God." The same is true of the Land of Israel. One who lives in Israel and considers the what is happening here can see God's revealed providence, and he is like "one who has a God."
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Some of the translated Talmudic and Midrashic sources in the above article were taken from, or based upon, Davka's Soncino Judaic Classics Library (CD-Rom).
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