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THE INTRINSIC HOLINESS OF THE STATE

By Tzvi Fishman
3/26/2007, 12:00 AM


Shmuelik and Shimon, come and join in the building. Instead of just waiting for Mashiach, your aliyah will help bring him.

Sorry to disappoint my friends, Shmuelik and Shimson. While I have no qualms noting that some things are rotten in the State of Israel, the blood in my veins is blue and white to the very last drop. The fact that there are problems in Israel does not impinge on the intrinsic holiness of the State. Apparently, this is an understanding that needs to be repeated and repeated until it sinks into the heads of our confused and self-deluding brothers in galut. For example, the cow hides used to make the parchments of mezuzot and tefillin are not holy in and of themselves. However, when the hides are used for the holy purpose of these mitzvot, the hides become holy too, and one is obligated to treat them with stringent sanctity. So too in the case of Medinat Yisrael, which is the vehicle that the Almighty has given us in order to perform the mitzvah of conquering and dwelling in the Land of Israel, a mitzvah that is equal in weight to all the commandments of the Torah (Sifre, Parshat Reah, 12:29).

No one can deny that Medinat Yisrael has been G-d’s instrument for the great ingathering of exiles in our time; and G-d’s vehicle for the renewed settlement of the Land of Israel; and G-d’s instrument for the defense of the Jewish People against its enemies – all clear mitzvot of the Torah. The shortcomings that appear along the way in this colossal enterprise in no way invalidate the sanctity of the State, as Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook taught his students again and again. For the sake of our brothers who may not have heard him, we will mention some of his teachings.

“It is well known that the Ramban established a fundamental halachic ruling that conquering and living in the Land of Israel are commandments of the Torah which apply in every age (Supplement to the Sefer HaMitzvot of the Rambam, Positive Command #4). Among the supporting verses he cites is the Torah verse, ‘Go up and possess.’ The Ramban emphasizes that this is the language of a command. In contrast to this, the rejection of this command is a rebellion against Hashem, as is written, ‘And when the L-rd sent you from Kadesh Barnea, saying, Go up and possess the Land which I gave you, and you rebelled against the L-rd your G-d, and you did not believe in Me, and did not listen to My voice’ (Devarim, 9:23). They did not listen to Hashem in conquering and possessing the Land. Possessing the Land is a mitzvah, and the opposite is a rebellion against Hashem.”

The Torah is eternal. The Torah doesn’t change. What was true in the time of Moshe is true for us today. Living in Israel is not a matter of personal choice. It is the foundation of the national Torah life of Am Yisrael.

“People occasionally ask, where is it written in the Torah that we have to build a State? Aren’t they familiar with the words of the Ramban, who stated that we are commanded that this Land be in our hands, and not in the hands of any other nation? Everyone understands that dominion over a geographic parcel of land demands political sovereignty and government. All of the early and later Torah authorities decide the law in this fashion on the basis of the Ramban that the precept of conquering the Land applies in all generations, and all of the agree that it is a commandment of the Torah” (Pitchei T’shuva, Evan HaEzer, 75:6).

Rabbi Kook emphasized that, “The intrinsic value of the State is not dependent on the number of observant Jews here. Of course, our aspiration is that all of our people will embrace the Torah and the mitzvot. Nonetheless, the Statehood of Israel is kadosh, holy, whatever religious level it contains.”

“There are religious Jews who express a type of criticism and say, ‘If the State of Israel were run according to our lifestyle and spirit, then we would accept it. Until then we abstain from it.’ They talk as if the State does not belong to them. But the truth is that the State belongs to all of us. Anyone who refuses to recognize the State of Israel does not recognize the return of the Divine Presence to Zion.”

Rabbi Kook said that we had to be patient, that Redemption came slowly in gradual stages, little by little (Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 1:1), and that it would reach perfection with time.

“In the Gemara, our Sages explain that all of the material used in building the Temple became sanctified only after it was set into place. We build with the profane and sanctify afterward (Meilah 14A and B, see Rashi there). This was enacted because our Sages realized that during the construction, workers would sit in the shade of the building to rest from the sun, and thus improperly derive personal benefit from something which had been exclusively dedicated for the use of the Temple. The Beit HaMikdash was built in this fashion, and this is the way the Redemption of Israel develops, in stages, little by little. Just as the stones used in building the Temple were not sanctified, so too the building of Eretz Yisrael is accomplished by every segment of the nation, by the righteous and by the less righteous. We build with the secular, even though this causes complications and problems, and little by little all of the various problems will vanish, and the sanctification of Hashem will appear in more and more light.”

Shmuelik and Shimon, come and join in the building. Instead of just waiting for Mashiach, your aliyah will help bring him.