Israeli President Yitzchak Herzog Herzog published a special column in Israeli media on Thursday. Although he didn’t mention the name of Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the column was obviously a reaction to Lieberman’s brazen mockery of lomdei Torah and his stated intent to harm them financially.
“There is no other nation whose history, identity, and depth of existence have been shaped by engaging in and studying a sefer like the Jewish people,” Herzog wrote. “’The Jewish nation is a nation only by virtue of the Torah,’ Rav Saadiah Gaon stated. The Torah, the written Torah and oral Torah, is the creative home for the soul of the nation, it is the foundation on which the existence of the Jewish people stands.”
“The Sefer Torah has accompanied our people throughout all generations. Already during the crossing of the Yarden in the days of Yehoshua bin Nun, Yehoshua commanded: ‘This Sefer Torah shall not leave your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night.’ Since then, the people have accompanied the Torah and the Torah the people – the Churban Bayit Rishon, the return to Tzion, the Churban Bayit Sheini, and during the years of galus – this Sefer Torah has never left us. Even today, in the days of the renewed return to Tzion, we must make an effort to deepen and persevere in the study of the Torah and glean darchei chayim from it. Limmud Torah isn’t just another profession, it is the secret of Yahadus, the secret of our strength and the desire of our souls.”
“In Sivan 1946, a letter arrived at the Aliyah Department from my grandfather, Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Halevi Herzog, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, requesting assistance in bringing 500 yeshiva students from Europe, who fled to Japan during World War II and were sent to Shanghai, most of them students of Yeshivas Mir.”
“In his letter, my Saba, z’tl, cries over the loss of Gedolei HaTorah and yeshivah bochurim in the terrible Holocaust. ‘“Woe to us for our great rupture! … ‘The world was their name’…. Even today, chas v’shalom, Torah may be forgotten from Israel by this extermination, if we do not hurry in time to save the last ember… This is the last remnant from the valley of murder, from the Nazi hell! From them is a foundation, from them is a cornerstone for the future of Yahadus in Israel and in the Diaspora.'”
“Less than eighty years have passed since the days when there was a real fear that Torah would be forgotten from Yisrael, and here the Jewish people and the State of Israel won – that the world of Torah flourishes on a scale never known in all of Am Yisrael’s history. In this sense, Chag Matan Torah, Chag HaShavuos, is an opportunity to remember the neis of the flourishing of the Torah, and to get to know and appreciate lomdei Torah and the study of the Torah and its meaning for our generation.”
“On the words of the passuk: ‘And Yisrael encamped there opposite the mountain,’ Rashi writes the words of the Mechilta: ‘And Yisrael encamped – as one man with one heart, but all the rest of the stops were with grievances and dispute.’ Kabbalas HaTorah had to be as one man with one heart, with a commitment and a deep connection of every Jew to Jew.”
“The characteristic of Chag Matan Torah is consistent with the ideological unity of our people, not only in its context as Chag Matan Torah, but also as one that concludes Sefiras Ha’Omer. In the days of Sefirah, we remember, among other things, the talmidim of Rabbi Akiva, who died because they did not treat each other with respect, and we must now emphasize these words of mussar so that they permeate our hearts.”
“There is nothing more Jewish than the debate, the controversy that exists l’shem Shamayim, but it must always be done with kavod. The more we know how to share deeply but also to respect those whose beliefs and actions are different from ours, and even to love them – for they’re our brothers – the more we will know how to sustain and glorify our nation in Torah and yirah.”
“As Chag Matan Torah is upon us, my tefillah is not only will we know how to learn and teach, appreciate and cherish lomdei Torah v’oskeha, but that we’ll also know how to receive it together, as one man with one heart.”
“This is the moment and time that should all commit ourselves with love for Klal Yisrael and like ‘the mother of royalty,’ the first giyoress, said, we’ll also commit to each other: “באשר תלכי אלך, באשר תלוני אלין, עמך עמי ואלוקיך אלוקי”.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)