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Yom Haatzmaut 5763

By: Rav David Milston

The "Shir Shel Yom" for Yom Haatzmaut, was fixed by our Chief Rabbinate to be Chapter 107 of Tehillim.

However, in this sicha, I would like to concentrate specifically on the three preceding Psalms.

Tehillim 104 is very well known to us - "Barchi Nafshi". It is the Psalm we say every Rosh Chodesh, in some communities it is said on Shabbat afternoon, in the months between Sukkot and Pessach.

"Bless the L-rd, Oh my soul; Hashem, my G-d, You are very great; You are clothed in glory and majesty, wrapped in a robe of light." "You make springs gush forth in torrents; they make their way between the hills."

"You make the grass grow for the cattle; and herbage for man's labor."

"He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows when to set.".

" How many are the things You have made, Hashem; You have made them all with wisdom; the earth is full of your creations."

These are just a few of the many beautiful verses in this psalm. The psalm deals with the creation, with the magnificence of Hashem. For anyone looking deeply into the creation of the world, it is not difficult to find the works of G-d. This psalm is essentially a celebration of the creation of the world, but not simply as a historic event of past, but as an ongoing process. Hashem is in nature Hashem is everywhere.

Tehilim 105 speaks more specifically about the relationship between Hashem and Am Yisrael. If the previous verse spoke of the wonders of Hashem in the general perspective regarding the world in its entirety, this psalm deals specifically with the wonders that Hashem has performed for His nation. "Remember the wonders He has done, His portents and judgments He has pronounced."

"He is mindful of His covenant, the promise He gave for a thousand generations, that He made with Avraham, swore to Yitzchak, and confirmed in a decree for Yaakov, for Israel, as an eternal covenant."

"They were then few in number, a mere handful, sojourning there, wandering from nation to nation."

"He called down a famine on the land, destroyed every staff of bread. He sent ahead of them a man, Joseph, sold into slavery."

"Then Israel came to Egypt; Jacob sojourned in the land of Cham."

" He sent His servants Moshe and Aharon, whom he had chosen."

"He led Israel out with silver and gold; none among their tribes faltered."

" He spread a cloud for a cover, and fire to light up the night."

"He gave them the land of the nations; they inherited the wealth of the peoples."

Yet after having shown the active presence of Hashem in the ongoing creation, having shown the mercies of Hashem towards Am Yisrael, Psalm 106 paints an all too familiar picture:

"We have sinned like our forefathers; we have gone astray done evil." " Our forefathers in Egypt did not perceive your wonders; they did not remember your abundant love, but rebelled at the sea, at the sea of Reeds. Yet He saved them as befits His name…" "Then they believed His promise, and sang His praises. But they soon forgot His deeds; they would not wait to learn His plan." "They exchanged their glory for the image of a bull that feeds on grass. They forgot the G-d who saved them, who performed great deeds in Egypt." "They rejected the desirable land, and put no faith in His promise. They grumbled in their tents and disobeyed the L-rd." "He saved them time and again, but they were deliberately rebellious."

The psalm runs through our entire history showing how time and again Am Yisrael failed to see the acts of Hashem, failed to respond positively to His wonders and mercies.

These three psalms should be seen as a unit. Hashem is primarily around us everywhere in everything that we do. Nature is the miracle of ongoing creation; our faith should be based on Hashem the Creator, Hashem the provider. The basis of our belief is Psalm 104.

Yimiyahu Hanavi speaks of this phenomenon when he says:

"Should you not revere Me - says the L-rd; should you not tremble before Me, Who set the sand as a boundary to the sea, as a limit for all time, not to be transgressed? Though its waves toss they cannot prevail; though they roar they cannot pass it."

The Radak comments:

People often rely on one-time miracles for their belief. Yet the prophet is saying to Am Yisrael why do you wait for proof of Hashem from a Kriat yam suf? The wonders of Hashem are plain for everyone to see in nature in everything that is around us. Our reverence of Hashem is not from the one time super natural miracles, our belief should be based on nature - who set the sand as a boundary to the sea?

Yet we have seen that even when Hashem changes the ways of nature, as is described in detail in psalm 105, we often fail to see the wonders of his ways as is depicted in Psalm 106. We are not only faced with the denial of G-d in the acts of nature, but even when we are faced with realities that are above and beyond nature there are still those who would stand up and insist that Hashem is not involved.

On this most wonderful day, we sing out the words of Hallel, we proclaim with an absolute simcha:

"This is the day that Hashem did, and we will rejoice in Him".

We stand up on this day and rejoice in the merit that we have merited in seeing the wonders of Hashem. In fifty-five years this country has achieved the unachievable, has developed in so many ways that each day the miracle just becomes greater. Just to look over the events of the last six months is an uplifting experience in itself. One of our greatest enemies has been removed from power, without our army needing to be involved. The Kinneret, which at the start of the autumn was lower than it has ever been before, is now overflowing. During Chol Hamoed Pessach we drove up to the Kinneret to see this miracle with our own eyes.

The State of Israel is a combination of Psalms 104 and 105. We have had the most wonderful zechut to have been born at such a time, a time which our people has waited for for two thousand years. We see Hashem in nature, we see Him in miracles. In the miracles of the War of Independence, The Six day war, in the miracles of Entebbe, the Ethiopian Aliya, the Russian Aliya, and ultimately in the ongoing miracle of our ability to exist even when we are surrounding by so many nations who oppose us.

We must ensure that our reaction to Psalms 104 and 105 is not Psalm 106. We must ensure that we rectify the mistakes of the past. If in the past Am Yisrael failed to see the wonders of Hashem, then the time has come for us to proclaim on every day of the week, but specifically on this day, the wonders of Hashem

The time has come for us to open the door. Kol dodi dofek, let us not make the mistake of Shir Hashirim, let us not be so slow in reacting to chasdei Hashem, that by the time we react, our beloved will be gone. We roam the streets of the Old City of Yerushalayim, we are historical moments away from the final redemption. We must acknowledge the miraculous days that we are living through. We cannot take for granted this most incredible period in our people's history.

Clearly, there are still problems, clearly we have not yet reached our final destination, but we are closer than we have been for centuries, there are more Jews living in Israel today, than at any time in our history since the first Bet Hamikdash. The future lies in our hands, there must be appreciation of Hashem, appreciation of the moment, combined with the initiative to overcome all of the issues that need to be dealt with.

Yet just as on Purim there is no Amalek, there is no doubt, it is a day of absolute celebration. So on Yom Haatzmaut, we put our issues to the side and celebrate in the most absolute fashion possible. We turn toward Hashem and thank Him with all our hearts. We thank Him for the zechut of being able to live in Our land as a people, we thank Him for being able once again to be: Am Yisrael BeEretz Yisrael Al Pi Torat Yisrael


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