Tzvi Fishman and the Holy Land
Tzvi Fishman and the Holy LandCourtesy

On Yom Kippur we spend most of the day repenting over our transgressions and the things that we did in opposition to the Torah. Less focus is placed on the things which we didn’t do. However this aspect of our service of G-d is no less important. One of the things we often neglect during the course of the year is giving thanks to Hashem for all of the good which He bestows upon us. This is known as being “kifuey tova” - ungratefulness. Instead of thanking Hashem, people tend to complain about the things which they experience as bad.

In the “Al Het” recitation this is expressed in the sentence: “For the sin we committed before You by a begrudging eye (Tzarot Ayin). We simply often overlook all of Hashem’s kindnesses and moan over the things which we see as shortages in our lives or things we consider downright evil. This oversight is also expressed in the very last “Al Het” – “For the sin which we committed before You by a confused heart (Timehone Levav). Our Sages explain this as the failure to recognize Divine Providence in our lives and over all of the events in the world.

Tragically, this is often our orientation toward the State of Israel, both the Jews who merit to live here and the Jews who stubbornly cling to alien Gentile lands. Similar to the Sin of the Spies in the wilderness, we often fail to thank Hashem over the incredible gift of Medinat Yisrael after almost 2000 years of exile amongst foreign nations. Finally, after generations of persecution and being dependent on non-Jews for every scrap of bread, Hashem returned our sovereignty over a large part of our own Jewish Homeland.

A person has to be blind not to see the staggering kindnesses which Hashem has performed in returning millions of exiled Jews to Israel and His transforming wasteland and desert into fertile orchards and vineyards in clear actualization of visions spoken by the Prophets of Israel. Is it not the worst type of ungratefulness if we fail to thank Hashem over all He has done for us in our lifetime in restoring our Nationhood in the Land of Israel and transforming the country into one of the most powerful countries in the world – via the great bravery and self-sacrifice of the pioneer settlers and soldiers who gave their lives for us to enjoy the benefits today?

Who has made Israel a world leader in all fields of endeavor if not Hashem? It is Hashem who has brought this about – the miraculous achievements in agriculture, technology, science, medicine, computer engineering, and military might.

How can we not thank him for the gift of Medinat Yisrael? How can we not recognize His hand in the rebuilding of Yerushalayim and the non-stop construction of highways and bridges and tunnels and housing wherever the eye gazes? Not to mention the explosion of Torah all over the country which has once again turned the Holy Land into the Torah center of the world with more yeshivot, ulpanot, Talmud Torah, synagogues, mikvaot, Torah Scholars and religious communities than everywhere else combined! Hashem has done all this!

And so this Yom Kippur it is wise to add “for our failure to thank you Hashem for the great gift of Medinat Yisrael.”