The State of Israel

On the fifth day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, 5708 according to our
counting from the Creation of the World (May 14, 1948) when the
establishment of the State of Israel was declared, the Jewish nation,
after two thousand years of exile, merited to once again fulfill the
mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel. As a result of the declaration
and the implementation of sovereignty over parts of the land, we began
to fulfill the mitzvah of Eretz Yisrael being in our control and not
in the control of other nations. True, before the establishment of the
State, every single Jew who lived in the Land of Israel fulfilled the
individual mitzvah of settling the land. Nevertheless, the essential
aspect of the mitzvah, namely, its general facet, that the land be
ruled by the Jewish nation and not by foreigners, remained
unfulfilled. Even during times when many Jews lived in Eretz Yisrael,
as long as the land was under foreign rule, we did not merit the
fulfillment of the general mitzvah.
Likewise, the Sages decreed that one who sees the cities of Judea in
ruins says: “Your holy cities have become barren,” and tears his
garment. The general rule is that as long as sovereignty of the land,
or parts of it, is in the hands of non-Jews they are considered to be
in ruins, and one tears his garment upon seeing them. If, however,
these areas were under Jewish rule, even if the majority of its
inhabitants were non-Jews, they are not considered to be in ruins, and
one does not tear his garment upon seeing them (Beit Yosef, Bach,
Orach Chaim, 561:2).

Thus, Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah HaKohen Kook ztz’l would emphasize, that on
Independence Day, we merited to fulfill the mitzvah of settling the
land. Once, at the Independence Day festivities at Yeshiva Merkaz
HaRav, a prominent rabbi spoke about the great value in the
establishment of the State, for since then, many yeshivot were started
and it became easier for religious Jews to keep Torah and mitzvoth.
Therefore, he concluded, we must be happy and thank G-d for the
establishment of the State. Our Rabbi and mentor, Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah
HaKohen Kook, took pains to add and emphasize that the very essence of
the establishment of the State was itself a tremendous event, it being
one of the greatest mitzvoth in the Torah. Subsequently, without
doubt, other mitzvoth would be fulfilled, for the fulfillment of a
mitzvah begets another mitzvah. In summary, the establishment of the
State itself is of great consequence, and not just as a means to
perform other mitzvoth. Additionally, the establishment of the State
and the blossoming of its desolate areas is an important stage in the
Redemption of Israel.

For many generations, we were forced into a situation where we could
not fulfill this mitzvah, for we lacked an army and weapons that would
facilitate the conquering of our land and establishing sovereignty
over it. It follows that the creation of Israel’s military power
before the establishment of the State, and its strengthening and
consolidation in the creation of the I.D.F., allow us to fulfill the
mitzvah. Thus, the mere existence of the army is a necessary means of
fulfilling the mitzvah to settle the land, in addition to the mitzvah
of saving Jews from their enemies. And so it will be until better days
arrive, when the prophetic vision of Isaiah is fulfilled (2:2-4): “And
it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the
Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and
shall be exalted above the hills; and all the nations shall flow unto
it. And many people shall go and say, Come, and let us go up to the
mountain of the Lord, to the house of the G-d of Jacob; and he will
teach us of his ways, ad we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion
shall go forth Torah, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he
shall judge among the nations, and shall decide among many people: and
they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into
pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither
shall they learn war any more.”

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