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      Thoughts for Israel's Independence Day

      A compendium of inspiration for Israel’s upcoming 63rd Independence Day.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 5/5/2011, 3:13 PM / Last Update: 5/6/2011, 12:38 PM

      A compendium of inspiration for Israel’s upcoming 63rd Independence Day - Part One


      Rabbi Marc D. Angel, New York:

      …Yes, Israel. This tiny country--surrounded by enemies, threatened constantly by terrorism and war, subject to an Arab economic boycott, frequently maligned by the media, torn within by ethnic and religious strife--is [tied for 8th place] among the world's happiest countries [according to a Gallup World Poll]!                                                                                                                                 …

      Given its many problems, why is Israel so happy?  Why is it among the happiest, most thriving, most creative countries of the world?               

      I believe the answer is: the grand human spirit of the people of Israel. Israelis--in spite of many differences among themselves--recognize that they are part of an incredible, dynamic adventure. Israel is the only example in the history of humanity of an ancient nation exiled from its land, forced to live (often under horrific conditions) as a minority group scattered throughout the world--who after nearly 2000 years returned to its ancestral land, revived its ancient language, and re-established its historic culture.  Israelis--and all members of the Jewish people--understand that we are living in a unique period of history.  Israelis are happy not only because they are thriving intellectually, culturally, scientifically, militarily; but because they understand that their lives mean something, that they are pioneers in restoring the honor and strength of the Jewish people after centuries of powerlessness and disgrace…

       

      Rabbi Avraham Yisrael Sylvetsky, Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav Kook:

      …But we are still in the midst of the process. He "Who gathers Israel from the four corners of the world" has not yet restored our "judges as of yore", and the [resulting] "sadness and sorrow" have not yet been removed [quotes based on the 11th and 12th blessings of the Amidah prayer - ed.]. The legal establishment, our shame, is still a patchwork of British law and Turkish law, while the true justice of Torah law is abandoned by the wayside… Corruption, too, has spread in various parts of the government, where there is no Torah and the heart is not directed heavenward.

      It appears that precisely this low point that we have reached is leading the Nation of Israel to recognize the need to build a new foundation of government and justice according to Torah, ‘whose ways are pleasant and whose paths are wholly peace.’ …

      The State has already been established – the Jewish body is recovering from its sickness, the wounds of the Exile are healing, the limbs are getting stronger – and it is well on its way, with G-d’s help, to reaching complete health.


      Rabbi Shmuel Yaniv, Givat Shmuel:

      The State of Israel was established in the year 5708 to the Creation of the World – and the 5,708th verse in the Torah reads, “And G-d will bring you to the Land inherited by your forefathers, and you will take possession of it, and He will do good to you…” (Deut. 30,5)
       

      Rabbi Beryl Wein, Jerusalem:

      The Prophet Ezekiel warned the Jewish people 2,500 years ago not to think that they are like other nations. Independence Day of the State of Israel is not like Bastille Day in France, Canada Day, or the 4th of July. If our Independence Day takes on the same status as other Independence Days around the world, it loses its spiritual and emotional significance.