There is no Hebrew word for history

In Hebrew the word is zechira, remembrance. Historic words spoken to a crowd of thousands at the central celebration of Jerusalem Day 2017, at Merkaz Harav Yeshiva.

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Malcolm Hoenlein,

Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Or
Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Or
Flash 90

The question we must ask is why do we commemorate an event of 50 years ago, why is it important in a time and age when people want to forget? People have no patience for history. Young people don't want to know. They want everything done in 140 letters. They have no interest and no patience for history.

It is unique to Judaism that history is not about the past. It is about the future. We look back in order to look forward. All of our chagim, holidays, are not just meant to be ritual observances, they are meant to be experiential. We learn what our avos and imahos, our patriarchs and matriarchs, went through.  

We understand things from them.

We learn lessons from them.

Churchill once said the further back you look the further ahead you will see. Our chazal, our Sages, said it a thousand years earlier. They taught us that we have to look back to learn the lessons, not to dwell on the tsaros, miseries, of the past but to prevent future generations from having to go through those tsaros.

So for us history is not what it is for the world.

It is zechira, remembrance. There is no Hebrew word for history. Zechira is a dynamic process, that we have to understand what led to things and what came out of them, not just what occurred at that moment.

We look back at fifty years ago to understand - why it happened - what are the lessons we can learn from it?

And it is never more important than now, when we see that UNESCO, in the United Nations, has voted overwhelmingly to declare that all the places that we hold sacred are only to be known by their Moslem names.

First they voted to hyphenate them:

The kotel is also Al Buraq's wall, named for Mohammed's horse, that supposedly went up after him - but Mohammed never visited Israel in his lifetime.

Kever Rochel, Rachel's Tomb, is now named for his chauffeur, his driver. The same for Mearat Hamachpela, the Cave of the Patriarchs, the same for the Temple Mount, Har Habayit, known as Haram al Sharif

You would think that with all the miseries the world is suffering, all the ones the Arab nations have - there are 12 or 13 of them at war right now - they all have external problems, internal problems, so why do they focus on us, why do they waste all this energy just to denigrate us?

They voted this year to drop all the names, to deny 3000 years of Jewish history, forget all the scientific facts, all the historic facts.

Because they understand better than we do that if you take away our past, you take away our future. That if we don't understand where we came from, who we are, starting with Malchizedek and Abraham, and then looking at when Abraham came [to Jerusalem] for the binding of Isaac. He brought Eliezer and Ishmael with him, and he said to them, looking at the Temple Mount from afar:

"Look, what do you see?" And they said: "We see a wilderness."

And he said to his son Isaac: "What do you see?" and he said he sees a "holy place."

So Abraham said to Eliezer and Ishmael: "You stay here with the donkey because you see only what a donkey sees."

The question to us, to all of us and especially to our young people, is:

Do you see what the donkey sees or do you see the reality, the miracles that G-d blessed us with? If you look at every day, every shovel in the ground in the City of David, the Western Wall tunnels, every shovel in the ground for the Light Railroad, every shovel in the ground uncovers things of our past.

Each one brings the Tanach, the Bible, to life, validates everything in the Tanach, not one thing contradicts it, all of these discoveries, tens of thousands of things each year bring our past to life.

G-d is sending a clear message: They want to deny it?  I will reaffirm it.  I will show it to you. How? In a rock with a Temple menora engraved in it, in a bell  from a kohen's gown, I will show you all these signs.

You don't have bitachon, confidence,  you don't have enough faith? You don't believe? Here it is in the bedrock of mountains!

Because G-d wants us to have the strength to stand up and tell the world: Never again.

Never again.

Nobody will ever take it away. It's ours forever.

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook zt"l (the late iconic Zionist rabbinic leader, head of Merkaz Harav Yeshiva) put on his Sabbath clothing and went out after the signing of the San Remo Agreement acknowledging the rights of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, and the clowns and traitors in the street started harassing him and asking, why are you wearing Sabbath clothes, bigdei shabbos?

He said to them what our Sages said:

Kol hamisabel al yerushalayim zoche veroe et simchata - he who mourns for Jerusalem's [destruction] merits seeing its rejoicing

And he continued, saying to them that the obvious question is, why does it say "in its rejoicing"

Why doesn't it say that he who mourns its destruction merits seeing its reconstruction? its buildings?

And he explained to them that it is because every am haaretz, ignoramus, can see a building, but only those who were misabel, those who cared enough to mourn, will see the true rejoicing of Jerusalem.

I once asked a crowd of 10,000 non-Jews, which of them can name the biblical spies who came back with a negative report [about the Holy Land]. And 10000 people sat quiet

Then I asked them who can name the two who came back with a positive report - and ten thousand people got up from their chairs and yelled Caleb and Joshua over and over again!

And then I said to them: That's the lesson of history. Those who stand with Israel are remembered forever. Those who speak against Israel are written out of history and will not be remembered.

But the one precondition G-d said for every miracle that occurred to the Jewish people, and there was only one thing that was a precondition, is unity, achdut.

From when we stood at Mount Sinai as "one people with one heart," in the words of our Sages, to the time when Queen Esther told Mordecai to "gather all the Jews together" to fast for her success, lech knos et kol hayehudim.

It is in every miracle, in the rescue of Ethiopian jews, of Russian jews, of Syrian Jews - achdut is the  one thing G-d demands of us and all of us have to work to see that this is the case.

We must stop destroying the Temple, the Beit Hamikdash! How soon it would have been built had we behaved differently!

Achdut is the one precondition and this is something we can do, each of us can contribute to it.

If we look back and learn the lessons of the past, then our children and grandchildren and their grandchildren will thank us for keeping their heritage, their morasha, safe for them -

Their heritage, morasha, the heritage of Israel, not just their inheritance, yerusha -

They will thank us for keeping it safe for them and for all generations to come.