Printed from


Sunday, 10 August, 2014 - 7:26 am

Thank you soldiers for your selfless sacrifice!

Thank you Israel for your endless courage!

Protective Edge—Israel’s campaign to end Hamas’ rockets launched at our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land—entered its forth day. By yesterday, over 350 rockets had been fired at Israel, about 90 of them intercepted by Iron Dome, and the Israeli Air Force had carried out almost 900 air strikes on the Gaza Strip. The miracles we have seen over the last few days, we have not seen in years. They are mind staggering—of biblical proportions.

As our minds and hearts are with our brothers and sisters in Israel, we study the Torah portion, Pinchas, which captures our unwavering love and dedication to the Land of Israel. It tells the story of five sisters daughters of Tzelafchad whose affection toward Israel was so profound that they petitioned Moses to receive their father’s estate in the Land of Israel.

What is the connection between the Jewish people and the Holy Land, both in the past and in the present? Is it merely a national one? Jews reside in Israel they are citizens of the country, so they are naturally connected to it.

No! For the last 2000 years, Jews have been exiled and dispersed all over the globe, yet we still spoke of Israel as our home; we cried for it as our spiritual epicenter. It was the core of our longings, dreams, and aspirations.

Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Nobel Laureate in literature, put it best in his 1966 acceptance speech for the prize: “As a result of the historic catastrophe in which Titus of Rome destroyed Jerusalem and Israel was exiled from its land, I was born in one of the cities of the exile.

But always I regarded myself as one who was born in Jerusalem.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed a similar historical outlook, in a speech he gave to the US Congress: “In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. We are not the British in India; we are not the Belgians in the Congo. This is the land of our forefathers, the Land of Israel, to which Abraham brought the idea of one God, where David set out to confront Goliath, and where Isaiah saw a vision of eternal peace. No distortion of history can deny the 4,000-year-old bond between the Jewish people and the Jewish land.”

Two thousand years ago, the Jews were exiled from their land. The violent ethnic cleansing of the area that took place so long ago could have been forgotten by history. However, history remembered the Jews, since the Jews never forgot their homeland. And almost 2,000 years later, by the grace of G-d, Jews returned to the Land of Israel and today most of the Jews of the world live there!

My dear beloved friends! Our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land are at war—yet once again. Fighting for their very existence. Today we all need to be the daughters of Tzelafchad. At times like this, each one of us becomes an ambassador for Israel.

As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said it so well: In July 1938 leaders of 32 nations gathered in the French spa town of Evian knowing that something terrible was going to happen to the Jews, knowing that unless they did something a tragedy would unfold that would exceed all the twenty centuries of anti-Semitism put together.

And one by one, without exception, the nations of the world closed their doors. At that moment the Jewish people knew that on all the vast surface of this planet there was not one square inch they could call home as the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in.

Today because of Israel the Jewish people have a home.

And when the war was over and one third of our people had been murdered, the Jewish people could have sat and wept and raged at the darkest night humanity has ever known. But it didn’t.

It looked forward not back. It chose life not death.

66 years ago, the whole Jewish people had said I will not die, I will live.

After the Holocaust the nations of the world said Never again. But anti-Semitism has returned to virtually every country in the Middle East, and even, unbelievably to Europe, from Greece in the south to Norway and Sweden in the north.

Whatever happened to Never again? Today it looks more like ever again. But one thing has changed. Because of Israel the Jewish people have a place where it can defend itself. And if Israel is criticized by people who should know better, then we would still rather have Israel and the criticism of the world than be homeless and defenseless and have the sympathy of the world.

But the truth is that Israel is a blessing not just to us as Jews. Israel is a blessing not just to its citizens but to the world. Because while its enemies have been holding whole populations captive to the pursuit of arms and missiles and terror, Israel has been developing agriculture to grow food where no food was ever grown before. Developing medicine to heal illnesses that were not healed before. Developing technology that did not exist before.

I see a country and a people that have shown the world what it is to choose life. So let us say loud and clear: We love Israel. We are proud of Israel. Thank you G-d for protecting Israel and showing us so many miracles over the last few days, in the aftermath of the concealment of Your face with the horrific murder of our three boys. May God bless Israel! May G-d bless our soldiers and bring them home safe. May G-d bless every Jew, man, woman and child, living in Israel, and may He protect all innocent civilians.

May G-d give our leaders the wisdom and the courage to protect our people and our homeland.

let us recall our duty as Jews today. At such times, the entire nation must be mobilized. Just as our soldiers are currently battling with all their heart and soul, so too must we increase our spiritual warfare, through the study of Torah and the observance of mitzvot; through prayer, charity, and acts of goodness; through expressing solidarity without reservation.

We are one people, one organism. And what keeps us alive is our relationship with our soul, our connection with our spiritual core—our G-d. Pray to G-d for Israel each day. Increase in your Torah study daily for the sake of Israel. Be more Jewish—for the sake of Israel. All women and girls from 3 years old light Shabbat candles today and every Friday, for the merit of Israel. Tefillin for every man: If you already put on tefillin every day, encourage a friend to do so. If you don’t yet, now is a good time to start! Mezuzah: If you don’t yet have Kosher mezuzot, get them now. This is a time to mobilize. With G-d’s help, we will triumph.


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yoseph Geisinsky

There are no comments.