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Shabbat Parashat Lech Lecha| 5763
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Education for Loyalty to Torah and State - From Harabanut V’hamedina, pp. 281-3
We are, unfortunately, witness to Israeli students studying abroad who too easily distance themselves from Jewish life in the Diaspora. Along with this, their connection to Israel itself weakens and they are willing to exchange their homeland for another country where living conditions are easier. Within the framework of religious education, where the proper way of life is the focal point of one’s thought process, lies the solution to this problem.
Rav S.R. Hirsch was correct that without a land, a language, or the normal social conditions, a Jewish nation is still possible. A Torah lifestyle can serve as a common language, which erases geographical separations. However, this philosophy contains two major dangers.
One can start to negate the significance of the State in the life of our nation. Why can’t one have a full Jewish life in the Diaspora? After all, if the main significance of living in Eretz Yisrael is related to mitzvot hat’luyot ba’aretz, they anyway have little impact on city dwellers. A second danger is the adoption of the outlook that one can be “a Jew in his home and a nationalist in the public realm.” In other words, one can think that national, political affairs need not be part of a religious worldview and idealism, but are designed to deal only with secular needs. If one feels so, then a religious Jew, who believes that Hashem provides for all of man’s needs, can throw away any and all regard for the national apparatus.
The religious educator must show his students the religious elements that should be included in the framework of the State and Jewish independence and which cannot exist in the Diaspora. Let us start with the example of Shabbat. Shabbat in the Diaspora is based around the home, but the surroundings are a sea of the mundane. “Rejoice in His majesty” is not possible in the Diaspora. There can be pockets of proper behavior, but no “full rest which You desired” on a national level.
One of the symbols of a state is its army. Abroad, the army is so often a place where youngsters throw off all vestige of moral behavior. We want to educate our youth to act as the troops of King David or as Yehoshua, who prepared for the upcoming battle by spending the night in intense Torah study (Megilla 3a).
On the social front, we want to educate toward involvement in the struggle against poverty and social problems, not as individuals, but as part of a national effort and direction. We want to be part of a society that fights tendencies toward social decadence and invests heavily in education. We must educate to be involved in a national effort to stem the tide of social rift between the rich and the poor, a problem which has caused revolts throughout the world, but has always brought rise to governments that were as ruthless and unjust as their predecessors. We want to be part of a state whose international affairs are based on Divine values, not on self-interest and bilateral relationships of convenience.
These are some of our aspirations for our state. However, the aspirations are not met by simply declaring statehood, but require our constant vigilance and our care that the proper lines of behavior are preserved. It requires a strong effort to educate on an individual level, as well. We must educate toward a state which does not divorce itself from its past or from its brethren in the Diaspora. The State must maintain a connection to the Diaspora, not in order to receive benefit from it, but in order to influence and spread its light to those places.
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