‘The time has come to free ourselves from the urge for survival, and to rise to the next level.’
From Pesach until Shavuot the People of Israel progresses, step by step, in the deep, internal journey to the essential meaning of our existence.
The exodus from slavery to freedom via Mount Sinai, where we received the ethical code according to which we must act in the Land of Israel, to the destiny of bringing divine morality to the entire world, is exciting and heavy; it is laden with responsibility, but also a great challenge.
These lines are written between the blasts of the sirens of Holocaust Memorial Day and Yom Hazikaron for the soldiers, by members of the second generation of Holocaust survivors.
Survival was the principle that guided every Jew in Auschwitz; survival was also the principle that guided the People of Israel in the diaspora, and even here, in the Land of Israel, we are guided by survival-oriented behavior, whose purpose is to strengthen our security forces against the enemy and the attacker. Security needs are our main concern, and rightly so, but along with this we must also place before us the goal for which we returned to the Land of Israel.
The first pioneers of the Second Aliyah defined the goal of Aliyah and the destiny of the settlement enterprise in the Land of Israel as the establishment of an exemplary society. Such a society is possible to be established, and indeed is being established, only in the Land of Israel. In the 69th year of our wondrous State of Israel we must set as our motto, “We are continuing to build an exemplary society that will radiate to the entire world”.
Even now, as we commemorate 50 years since the miracle of the liberation of parts of our historical homeland, the sovereign status of these areas has not yet been regulated. And here too, the motive for this is the same spirit of survival guiding us; the fear of the other nations, their reactions and their irrational responses.
The time has come to free ourselves from this fear, which stems from the same urge for survival, and to rise to the next level, to progress on our way to the ethical society that we have set as our goal. We can do this only in a whole state, only by completing the ethical process of the People of Israel’s return to its land, the cradle of its homeland, the region of Judea and Samaria. The return of the People of Israel to its land after all the years of exile is an ethical obligation, both national and international, that has been imposed upon us. The completion of the People of Israel’s sovereignty over part of the Land that it has returned to after it was immediately attacked by those who would destroy it is a high ethical principle.
In order for the State of Israel to exist, it must burn into its consciousness the additional, higher layer, the layer of destiny, without which, it will not be able to make its contribution to the rest of the world. The People will not be able to fulfill its destiny without its complete and sovereign land, the Land, to which the complete return is the first vital and ethical step for the People and for the entire world.
The partial acceptance of a partial State of Israel and a partial Land of Israel as the beginning of the flourishing of our redemption is not good enough. This is what Rav Zvi Yehuda cried on Independence Day of 1967, three weeks before the Six Day War broke out: “Where is our Hevron, our Nablus, our Jericho”, and so forth.
Why was the rabbi not satisfied with the borders of the partition? What was behind his alarming cry, which remains engraved in our minds? What, actually, is the Land of Israel?
In his book, The Kuzari, Rabbi Yehuda Halevi deals with the special connection between the Land of Israel and the People of Israel and the “parable of the vineyard” explains the things well. Just as every tree needs specific soil, and only in a certain climate can it bear fruit, also a nation has land that is specific to it, such that it is suitable to develop its culture and its uniqueness.
The spiritual development of the People of Israel will be expressed and completed only in the Land of Israel.
The Complete Land of Israel is not only political completeness but also social and ethical completeness. It is with this concept that the second generation of the settlement enterprise developed in Judea and Samaria, dozens of cadres of Torah emissaries developed in almost every city of our Land, volunteer projects, charity groups, national service, “Ma’agalei Tsedek” (NGO that promotes a just society in Israel), military preparatory schools, military service, which integrate and guide all areas of Israeli society.
We see that most of the commandments connected to the Land touch on the ethical character of society – collecting food for the poor, how to deal with a lost object, leaving the margins of a field for the poor, observing the sabbatical year for the soil. We cannot make a distinction between the longing for the complete Land of Israel and the Israeli longing for an exemplary society.
Therefore, in this, the 70th year, we must finally connect the State of Israel to the Land of Israel. The application of sovereignty over the Land of Israel must come. We must provide our minorities, members of other peoples, with personal human rights but not national rights.
And to those who would accuse of aggression, we quote the words of Yitzhak Tabenkin, an advocate of the complete Land of Israel: “Power is a prerequisite for justice, wisdom and the other good attributes and without it, no ethical system in the world could be effective. In the Land of Israel as well, the Jews will not have a future unless they become powerful” (Anita Shapira, 2004). With these words, Tabenkin asserted that the Land of Israel is an organic whole, a living body, and transferring parts of it to a foreign power is a step that is anti-Zionist, anti-ethical and reminiscent of a diaspora consciousness.
We urgently need leadership capable of deep thought and wise action, leadership that will know how to guide us to our goal – to apply our sovereignty over the total expanse of our Land. Thus, the spiritual power that is stored within the Chosen People will be able to set out and influence the entire world with its light and its goodness.
Not “in the end of days” and not “little by little”, which is sometimes used to exempt us from the work at hand. We must arise and rebel against complacency, against survival as an end goal, against mediocrity and incompleteness. We must arise and act as did the students of the Gaon from Vilna, the first waves of immigrants to the Land of Israel, and the original settlers, the trailblazing pioneers of Judea and Samaria