Up until a week ago, looking out our kitchen window in Jerusalem we could see Mount of Herzl, where the IDF Military Cemetery is located along with the Herzl Museum and gravesite. Now that two new floors are being added to the apartment building across the street our view has been destroyed.
I don’t intend to complain. On the contrary, I am happy. After all, the two additional floors are the fulfillment of our daily prayers for the up-building of Jerusalem! The new construction is concrete proof that the Almighty answers our entreaties. For those who keep an eye on Israel’s unfolding Redemption, the building is taking place not only in our Kiriat Moshe neighborhood. All over the Holy City you see brand new apartment buildings and towering construction cranes rising toward the blue-and-white skies. The building boom is staggering. Not only in Jerusalem, but throughout all of the country as well. Not to mention the new highways under construction everywhere.
All during the Corona crises the building has continued unabated. With all of the troubles and setbacks the nation seems to be facing on a daily basis, the Redemption is proceeding in full force. Whenever I am stuck in a traffic jam in Jerusalem because of the new light-rail tracks that are being constructed all over the city, instead of becoming annoyed, I sing a happy tune. Would Moshe Rabbenu or Rashi have complained if they had to endure daily traffic jams in Jerusalem? Of course not. It’s a dream come true!
Nevertheless, there is another less joyous aspect to daily life in the Holy Land which demands attention. Since Theodor Herzl is buried on Mount Herzl, and since he is one of the principle founders of Modern Zionism, the fact that we can no longer see the mountain named in his honor could be viewed as a metaphor for the seeming death of Zionism, what people term “the age of Post Zionism.” It isn’t only the spirit of Zionism which is harder and harder to perceive, exemplified by the self-sacrifice of our soldiers who gave and unfortunately, still give their lives so that Am Yisrael could achieve sovereignty in our own Jewish State, but also the very dream of the Medinat Yisrael is taking a beating as an underground of “progressive,” liberal-democratic, anti-Israel and anti-Torah forces wage a war to turn the State of Israel into a secular state like the countries of the West.
The tentacles of this very carefully planned and sinister stripping-the-Nation of its sacred Torah values and Divine moral standards have seized hold of Israel society and culture. The campaign against the Jewish Identity of the State can be seen in new liberal agendas of the government, in the watering down of Jewish values in schools, in the IDF, in proposed religious reforms, and in an attack on normal family values to the point where abnormal relationships once considered abominations are now championed as cultural enlightenment. All of this comes with the support of unlimited funding from leftist groups in Europe and America, and with the sanction of the Israel Supreme Court.
For example, in order to insure its rule, the new government has recently allotted 53 billion shekels to promote and support Arab causes. Imagine if the same 53 billion were allocated instead to encourage Aliyah. Such a dramatic move could resurrect the spirit of Zionism and bring hundreds of thousands of new olim to Israel while helping to decrease the soaring rate of assimilation throughout the Diaspora.
There is no question that today we are engaged in a fateful battle over the identity of the Jewish State. This is a cataclysmic traffic jam on the highways of our national existence, and it is not easy to remain optimistic and see the ongoing Redemption in the increasing darkness. There are voices who proclaim that Zionism is dead, and that the Jewish State has proven to be a morally bankrupt endeavor. Nonetheless, this seemingly destructive battle is also part of our Redemption, as Rabbi Kook assures us in his book, “Lights of T’shuva.” In Chapter Nine, he explains that t’shuva is far more than personal penitence over sins. T’shuva is a national phenomenon which encompasses the Jewish People in its entirety. It is a constantly ongoing process which pushes the Israelite Nation and world toward completion and perfection – “Tikun Olam.” This process of Redemption continues from the beginning of Creation to the last generations. Because of this great span of time, it is easy to lose faith and become overwhelmed with despair when hardships rain down on mankind, and on the Jewish People in particular.
The key, Rabbi Kook writes, is to take a step back and view history in a higher, all-encompassing perspective. Then the setbacks, defects, and plagues of negativity can be seen as an integral part of the historic process, in the same way that the shell of an egg must be broken for a newborn chick to emerge. Instead of feelings of despair and depression, this broader and more enlightened understanding brings confidence and joy. While we recognize that the negative, anti-Torah agendas and movements are evil, and while we fight against them with all of our talents and strengths, it turns out that all of the ugly developments and events which seemed to be deficiencies and defeats are in fact catalysts of change, like the shedding of a cocoon which precedes the birth of a butterfly.
As our Sages teach, the Redemption of Israel comes slowly, slowly, breaking forth through the darkness of night to shine forth in brilliant splendor over the mountains.
So too, the light of our Redemption will shine forth again over Mount Herzl with even greater grandeur and glory, uniting the best elements of Zionism with a full and heartfelt embracement of Torah – may it happen soon.
Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Jewish Culture and Creativity. Before making Aliyah to Israel in 1984, he was a successful Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbis A. Y. Kook and T. Y. Kook. His other books include: "The Kuzari For Young Readers" and "Tuvia in the Promised Land". His books are available on Amazon. Recently, he directed the movie, "Stories of Rebbe Nachman."