Final Prayer in Gush Katif

A final prayer will be held at the N'vei Dekalim synagogue this afternoon. Rabbi Chaim Druckman, head of the Yeshivot Bnei Akiva movement, will take part.

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Hillel Fendel, | updated: 14:29


Arutz-7's Yigal Shok asked Rabbi Druckman - who came to pre-State Israel as a young Holocaust refugee and went on to educate thousands of youths - to explain the idea behind the final prayer service.

Rabbi Druckman said, "It expresses our deep connections and bonds with this place. This area belongs to us, it's ours, and the fact that we left it was against our will, and we expect to return. Some have called this the Ne'ilah prayer [the name of the final prayer on Yom Kippur]; I don't know why, but I realized that throughout centuries of difficult exile, Jews concluded this prayer with the words, 'Next year in Jerusalem.' We always believed that we would return to Jerusalem, and in fact we did. Here too, this is a temporary parting from these places that belong to us. This is our Land, even if we have to leave temporarily."

Q. "So this prayer, as well, will end with the words, 'Next year in Gush Katif'?"
A. "Most certainly!"

Rabbi Druckman said, "In this synagogue, many Jews prayed for many years, and it is appropriate that we return there for a last prayer. Gush Katif residents will take part, as well as community heads, rabbis, etc. After the War of Independence [1948-9], important parts of the Land - Judea, Samaria, Gaza, Golan, and parts of Jerusalem - were not in our hands, but we believed that we would return to them. And after just 19 years, we really did. This time, I believe that our return will be much faster."

Q. "Don't you think that this prayer will reopen the wounds of the uprooting?"
A. "We were all hurt by it, there is no doubt about it. We are bound up with this place; can this be ignored? Won't we continue to be bound up with it tomorrow, and afterwards? This is certainly true for those who lived here for decades, and even if they have to live meanwhile in other areas of our Land, it will certainly not be removed from their hearts."

Asked what he told his students at the beginning of this school year, in light of the clash between the government and many of their ideals, Rabbi Druckman said,

"We believe in connecting. In place of disengagement, we believe in enhancing our connections with the State, the people, and the army. We will not disengage from these, and the true connection comes from faith, Torah, and the roots of the Nation of Israel.

"Our reaction must not be from 'the gut,' such as in the case of the students who said they would not enlist in the army, but rather from 'the head' and from our sources. Serving in the army is a Biblical commandment, for we still are in a state of war and we have enemies surrounding us - even though there are those who like to fool themselves otherwise. If there is no army, who will protect us? The war in which we find ourselves is a defensive one, thus that it has the Halakhic [Jewish legal] status of a 'mandatory war.'

"... It doesn't matter that some of the soldiers did something that must not be done; we also serve side-by-side with soldiers who desecrate the Sabbath. We also protect them, because they are Jews... As the Jerusalem Talmud says, if someone cut himself in the left hand by mistake, would that hand then cut the other hand in revenge? Of course not, for they are hands of the same body."