Yom Ha'atzmaut: Affairs of the Heart

In our relations with our fellow Jews, of all stripes, religious or non-observant, gentle or rude, pleasant or unpleasant, the Torah imposes the obligation of being motivated by logic of the heart.

Rabbi Dr. Aryeh Hirsch,

Aryeh Hirsch
Aryeh Hirsch
In the morning prayers, at the end of P'sukei D'Zimra, we say: "You are the Lord who chose Abraham and found his heart to be loyal to You, and so You made the Covenant with him, giving him the Land of Canaan." This juxtaposition of the Jewish heart to the Land of Israel, Eretz Yisrael, is no mere coincidence. Note, for example, that the division of the Land into tribes was made according to the Urim V'Tumim, which sat on the High Priest's breastplate; being a matter of the heart, Jewry's division of the Land was decided by prophecy that came via the Kohen's heart (Bamidbar 26:58; see Yalkut Shimoni).

Rabbi Ahron Soloveitchik wrote a whole book on this matter, Logic of the Heart, Logic of the Mind. Rabbi Ahron writes:
There are two forms of written expression, poetry and prose, and both exist also in the Torah. The shira, the poetry of Torah, can only be perceived intuitively by the hearts of those Jews who want to perceive. And we have t'filin shel rosh and t'filin shel yad. The phylacteries of the hand, the shel yad, which is to be placed opposite the heart, represents the commandments based upon the logic of the heart , which must be perceived intuitively. And so the Gemara says that all peoples of the earth will see our t'filin shel rosh (Brachos 6a). But the shel yad is covered and cannot be seen and is a sign "for you", but not for non-Jews. This logic demands the mitzvot in this week's Torah reading: "Do not hate your brother in your heart... do not bear (him) a grudge, love your neighbor as yourself." (Vayikra 19:17-18)

This is brotherly love stemming from the heart, emotional love. In our relations with our fellow Jews, of all stripes, religious or non-observant, gentle or rude, pleasant or unpleasant, the Torah imposes the obligation of being motivated by logic of the heart.
Rabbi Ahron (page 111) then turns to an exploration of Psalms 87:5-7:
"'But of Zion it shall be said, man and man were born there... singers and players of the flute alike shall say, "All my wellsprings are in You."'

'Man and man' refers to two types of people who can be called children of Zion: both the person actually born there and the non-native who always yearns to see Zion. The singers are observant Jews, and the flautists are the secular Jews. As the Ba'al HaTanya says, there are two types of melodies, those nigunim with words, and those without. There are Jews who can verbalize their relationship with God, the Jewish people and Eretz Yisrael. But there are other Jews who play a song with no words, who cannot even explain why they are so dedicated to the Land, but who say: "kol mayanai bach" - "all my yearnings are directed to You," Eretz Yisrael (based on a commentary by Rabbi S. R. Hirsch). And it is this millennial yearning for Zion that has become incorporated into the Jewish heart and soul.
There are practical ramifications to this "Logic of the Heart". Of course, it has motivated the return of many Jews to our homeland. But it also is behind the State of Israel's Law of Return; and thanks to our independence, there is no foreign power preventing entry of olim to this land. And this "Logic of the Heart " is what moved pioneers of the last 130 years to dedicate themselves "to the holy mission of the building up of the Land" (a quote from a monument in the Aaronson family memorial park in Zichron Yaakov) and its redemption. Also, Rabbi Ahron writes that it is to the great merit of our Israeli government that it is the only country on earth wherein a non-Halachic marriage (literally, "an affair of the heart") is not sanctioned by the state.

I mention Rabbi Ahron specifically for the following reason: He writes (page 121), "The establishment of a Palestinian Arab state on the West Bank would constitute a catastrophe for the Jewish people, as well as for the world at large. For the Jewish people, such a state would effectively render Israel helpless and doomed to annihilation. And for humanity, such a state would be nothing more than a locus for rival terrorist groups to wage incessant war, with its accompanying violence and chaos. The call of 'territories for peace' is really nothing more than a deceptive oxymoron."

Unfortunately, some Jews who should know better are ignoring their hearts and thinking with their cunning minds and their pocketbooks.

In Hebrew, leiv is "heart", and it stands for the number 32. In two weeks, we will read parshat B'har, which deals with all kinds of national laws for Israel in its land, such as yovel and sh'mittah. The 32nd day of the count of the omer represents, kabbalistically, Netzach sheb'Hod. Netzach is eternity and Hod is the glory of the High Priest. Of course, glory is ephemeral, but there is a part of the Kohen that is eternal. Sitting on the heart of the High Priest was the Urim V'Tumim, which represented prophecy, the message from the Eternal One (as per Rabbi Shabtai Sabbato). The message was: the Land is divided by the Logic of the Heart (Bamidbar 26:58) and the Land may not be permanently sold (Vayikra 25:23). And one more 32: the Haftora of the week of B'har is from Jeremiah 32, in which, in the midst of Churban, Jeremiah purchases a section of Eretz Yisrael, to show his fellow Jews that our eternal bond to Eretz Yisrael has not been abrogated by human history. And that chapter concludes (38-41):
And they will be my nation, and I will be their Lord. And I will give them one heart and one way, that they fear Me all the days,so that it be good for them... and I will make an eternal covenant with them... and my fear will I put in their hearts... and I will rejoice over them, to do good for them. And I will plant them in this Land in truth, will all My Heart and all My Soul.