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Shabbat Parashat Emor 5774

Parashat Hashavua: Choosing the Right Time for Independence

Harav Yosef Carmel

This week we will joyfully celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut and thank Hashem: “The stone that the builders despised became the cornerstone. From Hashem this came to be; it is a wonder in our eyes. This is the day that Hashem made; we shall rejoice and be happy in it” (Tehillim 118:22-24).

We will follow in the footsteps of Rav Tzvi Yehuda Hakohen Kook and explain what happened on 5 Iyar 5708 and why it was correct to set the day of the declaration of independence as the time to thank Hashem for the beginning of our salvation.

In successive perakim in Shmuel II, the navi describes how David first turned Yerushalayim into the political capital of the first State of Israel and that afterward he attempted to bring the aron to the city and turn it into the nation’s eternal spiritual center. Let us try to understand the unfolding of the process.

When Israel, as led by Shaul, fell to the Plishtim in battle at Emek Yizrael and Har Gilboa, the latter took control of the entire western section of the Land. The only survivor among Shaul’s sons was Ish Boshet, who was apparently too weak to take part in the battle. Avner ben Ner fled with him to the eastern side of the Jordan, from where they tried to rule over Israel. At the same time, David moved from Tziklag to Chevron, after consulting with the Divine Presence. In Chevron, David ruled, primarily over Yehuda as a vassal of Achish, King of Gat, his patron from the time David fled from Shaul. At that time, David was king only over the Tribe of Yehuda, which had been subservient to the Plishtim for centuries. After Ish Boshet’s death at the hands of officers from his own army, David moved his kingdom to Yerushalayim as the king of all twelve tribes of Israel.

A good look at the p’sukim raises a serious problem. On one hand, it says that Ish Boshet ruled for only two years, and on the other hand that David ruled in Chevron over Yehuda for seven and a half years (Shmuel II, 2:10-11). If Ish Boshet was David’s only rival, why did David wait five and a half years to assume his position as king in Yerushalayim over the whole nation (see Radak, Ralbag, and Alshich ad loc.)?

The move to Yerushalayim, turning it into a unified capital, had not only national but also international significance. It was a declaration of independence and an announcement of intentions to throw off the rule of the Plishti occupation. For this reason, the move drew an immediate Plishti response, as they attempted to destroy David and his new state (see Shmuel II, 5:17 and further). This declaration of independence required a lot of preparation in government building and international connections, and the decision of the exact moment to do it required great Divine Assistance. Premature action could be dangerous; needless delay could cause a missed opportunity to be regretted for generations. David determined that after an additional five and a half years, conditions were ripe, and he declared independence.

In our generations as well, David Ben Gurion’s decision to declare independence on 5 Iyar 5708 was a dangerous one, but it turned out to be opportune despite the difficult war launched by a slew of Arab states. It is through Divine Assistance that we succeeded, after some 2700 years without sovereignty over such large sections of western Eretz Yisrael. Let us pray that just as we witnessed the beginning of the liberation, so will we soon experience the geula shleima.

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