Yom Ha'Atzma'ut: Israel's 67th Independence Day:
Israel and its new heroes
The new State of Israel, established in 1948 as the Third
Commonwealth of Jewish Sovereignty after the destructions of the
First in 586BCE by the Babylonians and the Second in 70CE by the
Romans, has given the Jewish People of great heroic figures
formed in its most difficult battles. Names like Yitzhak Rabin,
Moshe Dayan, Yoni Netanyahu, Yigal Allon, Avigdor Kahalani, Ilan
Ramon and Arik Sharon populate our hearts and imaginations,
leading military operations which brought not only glory to the
reborn Jewish Nation, but more elementally, made possible the
renaissance of our national life in our ancient Homeland, our
Country, our Heritage.
Innumerable acts of heroism attended Israel's most recent
military operation, Protective Edge, especially
by young soldiers who saved the lives of their comrades and the
citizens of Israel. In a country whose policy of awarding medals
for military bravery and courage is sharply less than all other
countries, it is significant that 57 IDF soldiers and officers
were decorated for bold and altruistic actions after Protective
Edge. The most exceptional instance was the bravery of
Lieutenant Eitan Fund, awarded the highest military honor.
Trying to rescue his friend and colleague, Lt. Hadar Goldin of
blessed memory from the murderous clutches of Palestinian
terrorists who violated a ceasefire agreed by both sides, Eitan
Fuld risked his life by entering Hamas terror tunnels armed with
only his personal weapon. Hadar Goldin was treacherously
ambushed during the ceasefire, but Eitan charged alone into the
tunnel to free him; he returned only when he had gathered clear
evidence that Hadar did not survive the fatal ambush.
Among the decorated fighters, 4 other stories, four
Master Sergeant Omri, an IDF
reservist in the secret Duvdevan Unit who can be identified
only by his first name, on August 2 volunteered to lead an
operation during which he bodily shielded another soldier
from a fragmentation grenade, and at great risk to his own
life helped evacuate wounded soldiers;
Staff Sergeant Yogev Ofir, a
reservist combat medic serving with the Nahal Brigade who on
July 25 returned fire in a deadly incident. When his
ammunition ran out, and though himself wounded, retrieved
ammunition from wounded soldiers he was treating to continue
firing at the enemy in order to cover evacuation of
Sergeant Sahar Elbaz of the Givati
Brigade's Rimon Battalion. During an attack on his unit when
IDF soldiers took cover inside a mosque, Sgt. Elbaz stayed
at his post and drew the enemy's gunfire and fragmentation
grenades, killing four terrorists before his own weapon
Sergeant Yehuda Vislitzky, who on
July 20 took command of his tank from his wounded commander,
called for help, covered the evacuation team, and stayed in
command throughout the night.
Israelis and the whole Jewish People honor our young
heroes who make life of modern Israel possible, and their
actions of altruism and generous courage honor our State and our
Yom Ha'atzmaut - Independence Day - celebrates the
collective heroism of the entire Jewish Nation.
Israelis of all positions in life, whether in the forefront of
combat zones or in the home front, made and make the existence
of the State that fulfills the millennial aspirations of our
People for a national life.
Are these acts not enormously heroic?
the fond embrace of young soldiers by mothers and
fathers as they depart for the battlefront;
the quiet strength of families enduring many hours in
bomb shelters under the threat of missile attacks;
millions of citizens going daily to work under
bombardments during Protective Edge, showing that the life
of our country always continues, no matter how terribly
dangerous the threats of our enemies;
the instant military mobilization of tens of thousands
of ordinary civilians, men and women, determined to defend
When our sages taught in Masechet Avot, "Who is brave? He
who subdues his instincts",
the Jewish People were under the tyranny of the Roman Empire. We
had lost our national independence, our capacity to defend
ourselves, the strength of our popular life. In this context,
courage was measured only in spiritual,
individual and personal levels. The realization and fulfillment
("hagshamah") of The State of Israel returned our Nation to the
more traditional concept of courage, courage linked with
sacrifice to a cause of common good, courage that transforms
terrible situations into conditions that can be endured,
conditions that bring out the best in human beings for our
People. Yom Ha'atzmaut celebrates 67 years of Israeli Statehood,
a festival in which our Nation honors the continuation of our
enormous achievement in living and flourishing in so implacably
hostile a region as the Middle East. Despite the very real
threats to our existence, our geographically tiny Jewish State
is based on, grows and develops through the collective sum of
immense individual courage that saves lives and ensures our
future. Our national achievement of the life of Israel, our
youth, strength, joy, and future is born from unshakable faith
in the justice of our cause, our national redemption from
centuries of abuse, persecution and death: these are
achievements for the entire Jewish People, walking tall in the
light that emanates from the Homeland that invests us with
courage and heroism. Perhaps that too, is what the Prophet
Isaiah meant when he said "From Zion shall go forth the Torah,
and the Word of God from Jerusalem":
the life-essence of our People grows in the sap of Medinat
Israel, the tree that nurtures all the branches in Diaspora of
the Children of Israel.
On this 67th Yom HaAtzma'ut, may we
all be blessed in the joy of witnessing the further growth and
flourishing of our small but great State, in peace, recognition
and acceptance by the Nations of the Earth,
of our dream of a united Jewish People returned to Eretz
Tzion vi'Yirushalayim, the Land of Zion and of Jerusalem,
Eternal Capital of our People.
May God bless the State of Israel, which marks the
beginning of our national Renaissance, the rebirth of our pride
and our Future as a People.
Chag Ha'Atzma'ut Sameach!
Chazak ve' ematz!
RABBI CARLOS A. TAPIERO
Deputy Director-General & Director of Education
Maccabi World Union
 Pirkei Avot
בן זומא היה אומר:
הכובש את יצרו.
 Isaiah II, 3.
כִּי מִצִּיּוֹן תֵּצֵא תוֹרָה, וּדְבַרה'