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  ISRAEL    
 
 
  YOM HAATZMA'UT  
 
MACCABI WORLD UNION, DESCRIPTION & IDEOLOGY, BY RABBI CARLOS A. TAPIERO

Yom Ha'Atzma'ut: Israel's 67th Independence Day: Israel and its new heroes
By: Rabbi Carlos A. Tapiero, Carlos@maccabiworld.org
Deputy Director-General
Maccabi World Union, www.maccabiworld.org

RABBI CARLOS TAPIERO, MWU DEPUTY - DIRECTOR GENERAL & DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION

 יום העצמאות

 

Monday, April 20, 2015 

Yom Ha'Atzma'ut: Israel's 67th Independence Day:

Israel and its new heroes

 

Dear Friends,

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 fighters:

  • 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 casualties;
  • 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 malfunctioned;
  • 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 People.

 

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 our country;

 

When our sages taught in Masechet Avot, "Who is brave? He who subdues his instincts"[1], 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"[2]: 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

----------

[1] Pirkei Avot IV, 1.

בן זומא היה אומר:       
איזהו גיבור?
הכובש את יצרו.

[2] Isaiah II, 3.

כִּי מִצִּיּוֹן תֵּצֵא תוֹרָה, וּדְבַרה' מִירוּשָׁלִָם.


 
   
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