Rabbi Andrew Shaw
This Shabbat across America 90 educators from Israel are speaking in shuls all across the USA at the beginning of Israel 360.
Israel 360 is an initiative of World Mizrachi to celebrate the wondrous days of Yom HaAtzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim by coordinating a global campaign of Torah learning during this auspicious time. Over the next four Shabbatot 360 communities across 13 countries will be experiencing Torat Yisrael from some of the top educators from Israel. Here in the UK we are proud to be a part of the programme with our Weekend of Inspiration from Thurs 16th – Sun 19th May, it is an event not to be missed – please sign up here.
We all know that the Shabbat between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Shuva.
This Shabbat also should have a name as the Shabbat that falls between Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron / Yom HaAtzmaut it should be called Shabbat M’Afela L’Orah – the Shabbat of Darkness to Light. Yom HaShoah and Yom HaAtzmaut commemorate our transition from the horrors of the Holocaust to the miracles of our own independent State in our homeland.
It has been noted that, in Israel, we have two Memorial Days on which the siren wails. Yom HaZikaron – to remind us of the cost of having Israel, Yom HaShoah – to remind us the cost of not.
I will never forget, a few years ago, I was given Pticha on Yom HaAtzmaut morning in Raleigh Close. Opening the ark with me was a hero of the Jewish people – Solly Irving z’l, a survivor of Buchenwald who also fought in Israel’s war of independence. As we stood there that morning, he turned to me and said ‘I was present at the lowest point in our history as well as one of the highest’. Remarkable.
Since that incredible day in 1948, Israel has come on a long way in the last 71 years.
The Gemara tells us the Tanna- Choni Hame’agel wondered about the meaning of the verse ‘Shir Hamalot bshuv hashem, et shivat Tzion, hayinu k’cholmim’ When Hashem will return the captivity of Zion, we will be like dreamers.’
Why is the geula of us returning to Israel compared to a dream?
To help him understand the concept, Hashem arranged for him to fall asleep for 70 full years.
When he awoke, he saw a new world- the fruits of trees planted seventy years earlier were now being enjoyed by the grandchildren of those who first planted them. He saw how drastically things had changed in just 70 years and no one recognized or remembered him.
He was amazed. It was a TOTALLY new world.
Geula generates (relatively) quick changes. Change may happen slowly, but when one looks back with historical perspective, the results are astonishing. I am sure that if Choni awoke today, from a 1948 induced seventy year slumber, he would be even more amazed.
Over the past seventy years Israel’s population has grown at a mind-boggling rate – 1200% in just 7 decades. It began with just 6% of the world’s Jewish Population. Now it has 46% and very soon Israel will house the majority of Jews currently in existence. Average life expectancy in Israel has climbed from 65 to 85.
This incredible nation has made the desolate land blossom, with an amazing ability to grow anything, anytime, anywhere. Israel has built modern, magnificent cities. Israel has revolutionized Torah learning- there were 400 young men learning Torah in Israel in 1948. There are now over 120,000. And there are over 100 seminaries where women study Torah. Thanks to Israel, more Jews are studying Torah today than at any other time in history.
Israeli technology guides the planet, the army is second to none, the economy is booming- the GDP has gone from 25 billion shekel to 1.22 trillion shekel and exports from 29 million to 53 billion. Most importantly, Israel populace has one of the world’s highest satisfaction ratios.
The Jewish nation that emerged from the Shoah, shattered and broken, has regained its pride and rightful place as a force to be reckoned with, in the Middle East and far beyond.
Last Wednesday night and Thursday Mizrachi UK were honoured to hold our annual Yom Hashoah programme in Woodside Park and in our Jewish schools – to remember the darkness.
This Tuesday night we invite everyone to join us at Alei Tzion for Yom Hazikaron and then on Wednesday night to join Bnei Akiva to celebrate Israel 71 at Kinloss – to give thanks to Hashem for the light.
This Sunday and Monday are Rosh Chodesh Iyar – the beginning of a month that tells the story of the Jewish people in the modern era.
A month of Geulah.
A month of Torat Yisrael.
A month of Thanksgiving to Hashem.
See you Tuesday night at Alei Tzion.