Wandering around Savyon, aka the Beverly Hills of Israel, can certainly disorient you. Following a crowd to a Yom HaZikaron Tekes (Israel Rememberence Day gathering) in Savyon can really leave your head spinning.
There I stood, in the swankiest of towns in a generally modest country, among throngs of well-dressed and well-mannered (apparent) Israelis all gathering for a solemn night of honor and remembrance.
I had been to many Yom HaZikaron events before but it was not until the one in Savyon this year that I realized that all the ones I have attended in Israel share a common theme.
After the preliminary blessings for the State, Safety of the Soldiers and Return of Captives, each and every town honors the fallen that hailed from their own town. It becomes very narrow and personal.
Although I had witnessed this before, it struck me somewhat more significantly this time. It was a NATIONAL day of mourning and remembrance, why does each town isolate itself? It originally felt to me as if each town was vying for the top spot on the ‘most-sacrificed for the country’ list. It was a fascinating (and somewhat puzzling) phenomenon.
Shortly thereafter, however, I remembered a Dvar Torah (sermon) I had recently read by Rabbi Yissocher Frand in the name of Rav Nachum Lansky at the end of the book of Exodus. Rav Lansky observed that at the end of the entire book of Exodus, in the final passage, the Jewish people is referred to as “the House of Israel”.
Rav Lanksy contrasts this ending with the last passage in both Leviticus as well as Numbers. In the final passages of the latter books of the Torah the Jews “end with the more commonly used expression ‘Children of Israel’”. Rav Lansky asks “why there is a difference in the case of Exodus”.
He points to“symmetry” he finds between the opening and closing passages of Exodus. The book opens with “And these are the names of the Children of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each man AND HIS HOUSEHOLD”. Rabbi Lansky goes on to explain that Exodus is the book in which the ‘people of Israel’ become the ‘Nation of Israel’. Therefore, what he teaches, and uses the closing passage of Exodus to reinforce, is that a Jewish nation is NOT a nation of people but a nation of households…a nation of families.
With the slow extinction of family values in liberal modern Western society, Jews must remember that our strength as a people is the strength of our families.
Remembering this lesson, I was no longer befuddled by the personalization of each Yom HaZikaron tekes. It is not that each town is attempting to isolate itself from the nation. It is in fact the opposite! Each town’s honoring of its own fallen shows just how strong our family bonds are. When a son, daughter, father, mother or friend falls in action defending his people two families suffer loss; his immediate family and the family of Israel, aka the Nation of Israel.
We must remember all the people who have made the ultimate sacrifice to serve as the foundation of our households and that we dare not squander their invaluable contribution. Right, center or left on the political spectrum, if you are in a position to make a difference in the direction Israel will be heading, in I implore you to never forget the responsibility you have to your household. If you do that, the door will always be open to you and no mortal force will ever uproot our home.
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