Part Three: A compendium of inspiration for Israel’s upcoming 63rd Independence Day
Former Chief Rabbi of Israel Yisrael Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv:
A Yom Ha'Atzma'ut Seder
I feel we have not yet found the proper way of commemorating Independence Day. I therefore think that, in light of the tremendous success of the Passover Seder night throughout the Jewish world these thousands of years, there should be, together with the synagogue prayers on Independence Day even, a festive meal at night with the family, in which we tell and recount about that period, and about the transition from Holocaust to Revival, from Exile to Homeland. A meal of this nature wold enable the adult generation to pass on the stories of the miracles and wonders that happened to us, to the next generations...
Attempts have been made to formulate a "Haggadah," but they did not work; it could be left to each family to do according to its best understanding. The idea is to gather the family together, not in giant park cookouts, but in the home, in order that the youngsters should get to know what happened then... In general, we must strengthen the triple strand of The Nation of Israel in the Land of Israel according to the Torah of Israel.
Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin:
We Felt the Redemption
I was born into World War II, when the Land raged betwen the Holocaust that was taking place in Europe and the desire to be freed from the British yoke... After the war, we "were as dreamers," knowing that with all the tribulations, our dream was to be fulfilled; there was all the suffering of the Holocaust, together with the strengthening of the Jewish population in the Land, with the illegal Aliyah between 1945 and 1948. We all felt that the dream of our fathers was being fulfilled.
I was son to a family that had arrived in the Holy Land back 100 years before political Zionism began, a descendant of the families of the students of the Gaon of Vilna who arrived in 1809, and I knew that we truly were facing redemption - the Redemption of the People and the Land.
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Effie Eitam, former head of the National Religious Party:
Standing Tall Despite the Tsunami
It should not be taken for granted that we exist as an independent nation - neither physically nor spiritually. Physically, it requires constant effort and sacrifice, and spiritually - we are renewing our national life, language and heritage, at a time when other cultures are becoming swamped and overtaken by the cultural and religious tsunami of either the West or radical Islam - yet we are maintaining and perpetuating our independence and uniqueness......
The late Rabbi Sha'ul Yisraeli, Rosh Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav Kook:
We Must Not Blame G-d for Our Abuse of His Good
[In answer to a question regarding the obligation to celebrate Independence Day in light of problems caused in and by the State of Israel, such as the many Sephardic Jews whose families were long observant in the Exile yet became not religious in the State of Israel.]
Jewish law states clearly that if one's father dies and leaves him a great inheritance, he must recite two blessings - one in sorrow over his father's passing, and one in joy for the fact of the inheritance... We see that even if joy is mixed with even greater sorrow, the joy is not lost, but rather requires a blessing of its own. This means that in our case, our joy at being saved and becoming free is not swallowed up by any sorrow, but rather requires us to express our thanks to G-d.
But more fundamentally, we must distinguish between our obligation to thank G-d for the goodness He has given us, and the way in which we utilize it... For instance, Israel sinned grievously with the Golden Calf, which they made out of the gold and silver they received just before the Exodus from Egypt. Yet we still thank G-d for those riches, even though they led to one of our greatest national sins... The same is true with our entry into the Land of Israel, which later brought about great sins that led to our exile - yet we still thank G-d for it, in the Blessing after Meals and elsewhere!... Blessings such as wealth are often a test for us - yet we thank G-d for riches, even though there is no guarantee that we will use them correctly...