Shabbat Parashat Behar| 5766
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - “Please, Hashem, Save” - Based on Zeh Hayom Asa Hashem, pp. 28-29
Our Rabbis taught us that in telling the story of the Exodus from Egypt, we “start with the negative and finish with the positive.” One cannot appreciate the enormity of the Divine Mercy without seeing it within a continuum of events. We will properly see the miraculous, uplifting, positive events that occurred only if we view them in the context of less positive events, whereby each is instructive about the nature of the other.
So too, in our times, there are two historical events that are intertwined and occurred within incredible, frightening proximity. The first is the horrible holocaust, with unspeakable horrors that occurred to our nation as a whole. It was such a demonic plot to annihilate a nation, carried out both with cold calculations and with passionate sadism. The second event, which transpired on the heels of the first, was the rejuvenation of a nation through the establishment of a sovereign Jewish state on the ashes of the holy martyrs. We went from the deep pit of being a nation upon which it was decreed to have no right to even exist to the great heights of having a sovereign state, whose doors are open to the remnants who escaped the merciless sword. In this case also, it is necessary to begin the story with the negative before getting to the positive.
In the text of Hallel (Psalms of Praise) we say: “Please, Hashem, save; please, Hashem, give success.” Both of these requests are recited twice. Let us understand these prayers as above, starting with the negative and building to the positive. At the depths of despair, the request was for simple salvation. What more could one ask for when most Jewish men, women, children, and infants were in the constant shadow of imminent, cruel death. The prayer for success became relevant after the head of the serpent was cut off and we were blessed with our own homeland. We ask Hashem to give success to our defenders in the great challenge of our generation. Give us success so that our nation will know to follow the correct path. Give success that we may prosper in all of our national endeavors.
The significance of the double language can be understood from what our Rabbis (Berachot 6b) tell us in regard to the prophet Eliyahu’s double plea to Hashem to hear him. Eliyahu asked that Hashem answer him with fire from the heaven (to prove that Hashem is G-d) and that the people assembled would not say he used witchcraft to do so. A similar thing can be said about our plea for salvation. Not only did we need to be saved, but we also needed not to be tempted to say that the salvation was a chance event. “’Would it not have been for Hashem’, shall Israel say” (Tehillim 124:1). We should recognize and verbalize that had it not been for Hashem, our cruel enemy would have succeeded in wiping us out totally.
The same duality is true of the request for success for our Jewish state. Not only do we need success, but we need to know that the success comes from Hashem. If we do not recognize that, then it is possible that the blessing will turn into a curse and that the venom of anti-Semitism, which that wicked man sowed in the earth, Heaven forbid, will reemerge.
The lesson we should learn from the painful past to the present is that there is a chasm that separates between Bnei Yisrael and the nations of the world. There is something innate within us that makes us foreign, misunderstood, and hated. There is no explanation of the essence of the Jewish people except through its Torah. We need to follow it in all of its details, to know it intimately, and to love it. Only when we learn how to cling with all our might to the Torah of the living G-d will the success that we see in the Land of Israel be a double success. We will then not only receive Divine Blessing, but we will know to Whom to attribute it. We will thus also know how to build the present of independence into a State that is rooted in the laws of Moshe and Israel.
Top of page
Print this page
Send to friend
This edition of