Rabbi Aryeh Stern
Rabbi Aryeh SternFlash 90

A special evening of study and discussion took place in honor of Independence Day at Rabbi Kook's home in Jerusalem. Rabbi Aryeh Stern, Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, Rabbi of Ramat Gan, and other rabbis spoke about the teachings of Rav Kook zt"l in the Torah regarding State.

Rabbi Aryeh Stern spoke about the value of fulfilling the commandment of establishing a state. "The value of the state is enormous. It is no coincidence that Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah used to review a great deal the Maimonides in Sefer Hamitzvot. The State of Israel is the fulfillment of a mitzva. There are individual mitzvos and there are general mitzvot, and we did not merit in exile to fulfill general mitzvot. There are also general commandments that we are prevented from fulfilling unfortunately, but thank G-d we are fulfilling the commandment to establish a state, a general mitzvah. The issue of Klal Yisrael can only exist in the Land of Israel."

The evening was organized by the Torah and State Center in Nitzan, attended by dozens of participants, including rabbis, researchers from the center, yeshiva students, and other participants.

Rabbi Yigal Kaminetzky, head of the Torah and State Center, opened the evening with a blessing. Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, the president of the center and the rabbi of Ramat Gan, spoke after him. Rabbi Ariel spoke about our challenges as individuals and as a society on the way to a civilized state, "A person wants to be fulfilled, and in order to be fulfilled there must be a society. A lone individual can not be fulfilled, only in a society, the society is your greatest insurance company, a society can help us."

From the individual level, the rabbi went over the importance of a fulfilled, happy society: "The great happiness of an individual is the happiness of the society. A society means a state, that the state is happily fulfilled. Our aspiration as a state to strive for the holy; to strive for Jerusalem. A country that sanctifies God's name is a happy country." The rabbi further elaborated on the way and means to reach a happy state and the challenges to it.

"By way of a bit of a joke - the 5th of Iyar is 'Tel Aviv Day'; the 28th Iyar - Jerusalem Day. As a Yerushalmi, I remember the fifth day of Iyar - a day of mourning announcements about the fallen Gush Etzion. We were besieged, dusty, without water, and without bread. We heard that they had established a state, but in Jerusalem we did not feel it. What I do remember is that we went to a small ceremony to see the British flag being taken down. We tore it to pieces, and I polished my shoes from a piece of the British flag. That was the feeling I associate with the establishment of the State," said the rabbi.

"Unfortunately, there is a disconnect between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv - and we have to connect this disconnect," the rabbi declared, "The Shulchan Aruch is limited to the laws that were practiced only in exile, Maimonides elaborates on all the laws of kings. One of our challenges and that of the Torah and State Center is to prepare an all-encompassing book on halakhot pertaining to the laws of kings that will introduce the great ideas on how to turn Tel Aviv into Jerusalem and how to bring the State of Israel to a place that brings the great announcement to the world that G-d is one and His name is one," concluded the Rabbi.

Rabbi Neria Gutel, head of the Center's research department, analyzed talmudic concepts according to the teachings of Rabbi Kook.

Professor Eliav Shochtman explained the Torah teachings of Rabbi Moshe Zvi Neria zt "l on the subject of the theory of state, and analyzed current issues in light of the teachings of Rabbi Neria zt" l. For example, he analyzed how Rabbi Neriah would decide today on the issue of separation of Torah and state from the state itself, concluding that Rabbi Neria would strongly oppose this separation.

The Center for Torah and State has been active in the community of Nitzan for the last two years. It is a center for a team of Torah scholars dealing with a variety of public issues related to the existence of a state according to the Torah.

The evening was presided over by Rabbi Yohanan Fried of Beit HaRav, who said that in light of the evening's success, additional seminars will be held on these issues.