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Shabbat Parashat Kedoshim 5779

Parashat Hashavua: Many Torot Have Been Emanating from Jerusalem

Harav Yosef Carmel

We have discussed in the past that we should thank Hashem that the State of Israel is today a Torah powerhouse beyond that which existed in any generation. The number of Torah learners is greater than it ever was, the number of hours of Torah study exceeds what ever existed, and the level of learning is higher than anywhere else in the world. The main reason for all of these is the State of Israel.

The incredible technological development is one of the things that have made this possible, and Israel is a leader in this as well. Technology allows more non-work time, makes Torah libraries available in everyone’s “window,” and allows for all sorts of Torah to be disseminated instantaneously, day and night.

So we can say that Yeshayahu’s prophecy (2:3), “For from Zion will come forth Torah and the word of Hashem from Jerusalem” has begun to be fulfilled. If we look at the verse’s simple reading in context it is that the Torah will be spread throughout the world and to all the nations; it will not be limited to the Nation of Israel in the Land of Israel. Let us look how the words of the prophet are being fulfilled in our times.

Torah does not have to be limited to what we usually call Torah – Tanach and the Oral Law. It can also include a set of values and valuable infrastructure that the Jewish People can impart to the nations of the world. It can include:

1. The sanctity of human life and the obligation to beware not to harm anyone without explicit permission. In a case of pikuach nefesh (danger to human life), all mitzvot (except for the three most severe) are overridden.

2. The obligation to help those who are (defined in a variety of ways as) weak. This obligation is mentioned tens of times in Torah, and the Prophets stressed it even more.

Let us look at what has happened in these fields. Israel is the birthplace of the “stent,” a medical device that has saved millions throughout the world who suffer from severe vascular problems. Israel, and its capital, Jerusalem, is also a leader in the field of autonomous cars, which are expected to save many lives with safer driving. It will also improve the quality of living and will allow there to be fewer cars on the streets. (It may also help limit problems of chillul Shabbat; poskim will have to come up with guidelines that will emerge when such systems are available.)

In the field of help for the needy, Israel is a leader in the field of water desalinization and energy creation, which is crucial in places where there is a shortage of these resources. These technologies can make life more livable for millions of people. Israel is a power in the field of helping the sight impaired. An Israeli invention makes written material accessible to the blind and enables people without sight to get around safely. We do not have enough room in this forum to continue with other important developments.

Let us spend Yom Ha’atzmaut giving gratitude to Hashem for all the good that He has bestowed upon us through the establishment of the State and for the privilege of living in a place that has helped fulfill, if seen broadly and to a certain degree, the pasuk: “For from Zion will come forth Torah and the word of Hashem from Jerusalem.”
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